Jean Grey is one of the most prominent female superheroes in Marvel history, having been around for decades as a member of various teams, mainly the X-Men and X-Factor. Born with the powers of telekinesis and telepathy, Jean was the only female member or the original X-Men team. Caring and nurturing, she would go on to become one of the mainstay characters of X-Men lore, most notably for her role in “The Dark Phoenix Saga”, in which she becomes possessed by an all-powerful cosmic entity. She would die and return several times through the years, making it hard on her loved ones, including life-long love Cyclops.
After a 13-year long absence, the powers that be over at Marvel have resurrected Jean from her most recent death. Not only has she returned to the X-Men, she supposedly will play a huge role in motivating and inspiring mutant-kind similar to the teachings of Charles Xavier. Following her return, she forms a new group of X-Men including Nightcrawler, Wolverine and Namor to aid in her crusade of saving the next generation of mutants. In honor of Jean’s latest comeback, we take a trip down memory lane to look at the costumes that helped make our First Lady of X a legend.
15. BLACK QUEEN
Following her run-in with the Phoenix Force, Jean is slowly seduced by the darker side of her powers. She begins to want only for more power and destruction, which drew the attention of several members of the villainous Hellfire Club. Between the Phoenix and being manipulated by Mastermind’s persuasive powers, Jean becomes the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, turning on her friends and teammates.
What can you say about this costume? It’s basically a colored version of what the White Queen, otherwise known as Emma Frost, was wearing at the time. It’s hard to believe this got passed the censors, especially back then. Let’s just be glad it was just a phase and we never saw her again in this once she became herself again.
14. X-MEN: BLUE
After quitting the main X-Men team, the time displaced X-Men of the past, lead by a young Jean Grey, joined up with Magneto to help in his mission to preserve Xavier’s dream by eliminating those who oppose it. Skeptical of Magneto’s intentions, the team also practiced scenarios in which Magneto turned against them as a back up. In her solo series, the young Jean would also encounter the Phoenix Force in a storyline that ends with the resurrection of the current timeline’s Jean (not complicated at all).
This young Jean Grey look is reminiscent of the Quitely X-Men, depicting baggy clothing with random X’s placed throughout the costume. Add in a Taylor Swift-style hairdo and this Jean just screams millennial. Readers weren’t much of a fan of this varsity jacket look, but it will probably change again given who the character is.
13. TIME DISPLACED JEAN
In an effort to talk some sense into Cyclops, a Beast from the past travels to the present with the rest of the X-Men. This was initially Marvel’s way of bringing Jean “back,” by having her younger self join present-day continuity. While this Jean had some similarities to the one we know and love, there were a few things that she did that got under readers skin like reading people’s minds without their permission and being bit of a flirt in front of her boyfriend, Cyclops.
The team uniforms utilized by the time-displaced team are reminiscent of the Fantastic Four’s Future Foundation costumes. They are very minimalist, and they have that Power Ranger feel to them with all the team members wearing the same outfit but in different colors.
12. ULTIMATE MARVEL
In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Professor X discovers Jean Grey in a mental hospital, unable to control her powers while having visions of the Phoenix raptor. She would eventually become his second student after Cyclops, and would grow into the most powerful. Following the apparent death of Xavier, she would become the school’s headmistress, later dying and then being resurrected similar to main continuity.
This version of Jean is responsible, yet extroverted, and is scathingly sarcastic. Early in the series, she sports short, cropped hair and prefers to dress like a rocker. As she matures, she lets her hair grow out a little and starts dressing more conservatively. She also adopt another uniform following her possession of the Phoenix Force, which would reminiscent of her original outfit in mainstream continuity.
11. FIRST CLASS
Sometimes we forget that comics were originally intended for kids, so when X-Men: First Class came out in 2006, it was a nice throwback to the more innocent early years of the team. This title focused on the early days of the original five X-Men while they were still being trained in the use of their powers by Xavier. The series would go on to feature guest stars like Doctor Strange, Invisible Woman and Thor.
The entire team received new blueish-black and yellow costumes that were intended to be a more modern approach to their classic blue and gold ones. Jean’s in particular was a bit more mature looking, with opera-length gloves and thigh high boots. Kitty Pryde would go on to adopt a similar look during her run as a member of Excalibur.
10. NEW X-MEN
With Grant Morrison’s X-Men reboot in 2001 also came new uniforms for the team (again). Everyone wore basically the same design, except for Emma Frost who, of course, wore the least amount of clothing she could. Many fans had a problem with this era for various reasons, from the secondary mutations that were introduced to the marriage-destroying affair between Emma and Scott.
Jean’s costume during this time didn’t look anything like a costume at all. Taking a cue from Bryan Singer’s redesign of the X-Men’s uniforms in the movies, the outfit was something you could just walk around in out in public. A striped shirt, combat boots and a trench coat round out the look. A large X is prominently displayed because it is so important for people to know which team you’re on.
In the late ’80s the X-Men were based out the Australian outback following their experience with the Siege Perilous. Marvel was looking at a way to add a secondary team of mutants, one that included the original X-Men roster of Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, Marvel Girl and Beast. This lead to the creation of the first iteration of X-Factor, with later versions including a government sponsored team and a group of mutant private investigators.
Following her (first) resurrection, Jean joined the other original X-Men members to form a team of mutant superheroes, X-Factor. Like a lot of female comic book characters, she would go through a lot of costume changes, but this red number stands out. Not only because of its perfect simplicity, but because the color scheme pays homage to Jean’s past as Dark Phoenix. Utilizing red and gold, this costume has a big, dramatic X across her upper body.
8. MARVEL GIRL OG
An early feminist pioneer in the comics, Jean Grey wore the same costume her male teammates wore when they first debuted as a team back in 1963. At the time possessing only her telekinetic abilities, Jean assumed the codename of Marvel Girl and joined Cyclops, Iceman, Beast and Angel to form the original team of X-Men under the tutelage of Professor Charles Xavier.
Jean famously compared her very first costume, designed by Jack Kirby, to Christian Dior. While that be a bit of an exaggeration, it was definitely of the time and remains a classic. The blue and gold would become the X-Men’s signature team colors, even naming two separate squadrons after the colors (and now two currently-published titles). That balloon head-mask must have been murder on her fab flip hairdo, though.
X-Factor underwent quite a few costume changes throughout the series. However, they almost always followed the Power Rangers rule: everyone has the same basic outfit, just with different colors. This is probably one of Jean’s most overlooked costumes since it only appeared in a handful of X-Factor issues right before the team rejoined the X-Men in the early ’90s. Like her previous one, a gold X is prominently displayed across her upper body, but it also features an updated silhouette. Pointed shoulders that place emphasis on the X without quite hitting the ’80s shoulder pad trend.
Despite the colors paying homage to her original Marvel Girl costume, it did come with a downside of Cyclops wearing pretty much the same thing. This gave the couple a “his and hers” matching set look that didn’t vibe well with readers. Thank goodness there haven’t been anymore couple outfits like that since.
6. MARVEL GIRL
This was a uniform Jean made following the team’s graduation from Xavier’s school, which she also chose to wear in the fight for her life against the Shi’ar empire during “The Dark Phoenix Saga”. Moving away from the form-fitting superhero spandex, this green dress gave Jean a more flattering and feminine look. The dress was a one piece, but in true female X-Men fashion, she wore a belt with it.
The color of the belt would change, although it was usually yellow but occasionally red. The buckle would always have an X in the center and would vary in size. How much skin she showed would also vary from artist to artist throughout the years. This costume would become a fan favorite and stick around for a long time.
5. AGE OF APOCALYPSE
In the “Age of Apocalypse” storyline, Jean Grey is a student of Magneto’s who eventually falls in love with Weapon X (Wolverine). Jean is kidnapped by Mr. Sinister and, although she escapes with Logan’s help, Sinister extracts her DNA to mix with Cyclops to engineer the perfect mutant, X-Man. She gives her life to save the United States from a series of nuclear bomb attacks in an attempt to kill Apocalypse. She is later resurrected via the Phoenix Force, incinerates Sinister and becomes the lead of the X-Men.
In this reality, gone is Jean’s long, flame-red hair, replaced with a shorter ‘do. Her costume was kept simple, utilizing colors of red and blue yet again. She also sported tattoo markings around her eye, similar to Psylocke’s following her exposure to the Crimson Dawn.
In the early ’00s, all the X-titles received another revamping known as “Revolution,” which was most notable for bringing classic X-Men writer Chris Claremont back to the flagship titles that he has become so famous for helping put on the map. The event also gave nods to early-’90s marketing such as including trading cards and printing variant covers. Unfortunately, this phase only lasted for nine months before switching creative teams yet again.
As with most revamp events, most of the X-Men received makeovers, with some being more popular than others. We were particularly fond of Jean’s red and gold number, especially having the huge, metallic phoenix incorporated across her chest. Although the bandage gloves are a bit post-apocalyptic, this costume is consistently underrated, this outfit pays homage to her past while being something new.
3. X-MEN: RED
Following the events of Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey, the original Jean returns to the land of the living after being absent for over a decade. Upon her return, she puts together a new team of X-Men, including veteran member Nightcrawler, Laura Kinney’s Wolverine and a brand new character named Trinary, who has the ability to psychically control technology. X-Men: Red also features the return of infamous X-villain Cassandra Nova.
Jean’s new costume hearkens back to her ’90s Jim Lee look, with a little bit of updating and simplifying. Gone are the side leg pouches and leggings replaced with pieces that look more like body armor than anything else. The look feels modern, but at the same time like old Jean, before her world came crashing down. We like this Jean.
2. X-MEN: GOLD
The ’90s were peak X-Men mania, with X-Men #1 becoming the bestselling comic book of all-time. Most of this probably had to do with superstar artist Jim Lee’s involvement. Anyways, the X-Men’s popularity would go on to spawn numerous spin-off titles, each with a varying degree of success. This was followed by the critically acclaimed and fan favorite X-Men: The Animated Series, which based its character designs off of the same book.
X-Men #1 also featured numerous costume updates for our merry mutants, including Jean Grey. While on paper, the blue and orange color scheme with random shoulder pads sounds horrid, it came together quite nicely in actuality for our favorite redhead. This would become one of her most iconic looks, used in everything from the animated series to video games.
Jean Grey is the exact opposite of the Hulk. When Bruce Banner turns green, you better run for cover, but with Jean green is usually the safer color. The difference between Phoenix and Dark Phoenix’s costumes are their color and the size of the raptor on her chest. Phoenix’s green outfit has a smaller gold phoenix at the top, while Dark Phoenix’s costume is red and the gold phoenix covers almost the entire upper half of her body. We’re not touching the white.
Both costumes have gold arm-length gloves and thigh-high boots and, with the exception of the gold hip sash flowing in the wind, their costumes are so tight they may as well have been painted on. With all that said, it probably is best to not critique a woman with the power to destroy the universe.
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