SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey #5, by Matthew Rosenberg, Leinil Francis Yu, Joe Bennett, Gerry Alanguilan, Belardino Brabo, Rachelle Rosenberg and Travis Lanham, on sale now.
We’ve known about the return of the adult Jean Grey for a while now. But while the beloved Marvel hero has been on her way back to the land of the living in Phoenix Resurrection, she’s very much not been the Phoenix itself.
The series' final issue not only brings Jean Grey back from the dead, it resolves her relationship with the Phoenix in a seemingly final way. it also wraps up the mystery of the town of the dead while setting the newly-returned character's course for the rest of her life within the X-Men titles.
Throughout the miniseries, we’ve seen Jean Grey living in a creepy, almost eldritch version of her hometown, alongside suburban counterparts of pretty much every dead member of the X-Men and every dead member of the Grey family, unaware of the strangeness going on all around her. Thing have been coming to a head, though, and with the X-Men crossing over to the pocket reality The Phoenix created, Jean soon learns the ugly truth about her resurrection. Confronted by Logan, her one-time flame slashes the neck of her “co-worker” revealing the fire beneath and triggering Jean’s dormant memories to resurface, reminding her of, well, everything.
Emerging from the ruins of the diner dressed as The Phoenix, Jean is confronted by the reality that not only are all of her friends and family in the pocket reality are dead, they all died while she was dead. Her entire family bloodline was wiped out by the Shi’Ar, her husband died of M-Pox caused by exposure to the Terrigen Mists, her Logan was smothered in Adamantium. The Phoenix’s offer to achieve godhood and resurrect her family and friends is so much more enticing because so many of them died while she wasn’t around to save them, so when she says no, it’s an even harder decision.
One Last Time
The one thing Phoenix Resurrection does with Jean Grey in its final issue better than most incarnations and appearance of the character is that it gives her agency. So many times, Jean Grey is an agent of fate; pushed and pulled along destiny’s path, without a say in her own future. However, this time, Jean gets to tell The Phoenix exactly why she doesn’t want to be involved in its plans and machinations, and for the first time, The Phoenix listens. It tries one last gambit, resurrecting Cyclops — actually resurrecting him, not just creating a Force ghost of him — but instead of convincing Jean to side with it, it convinces Jean to go on without it.
Jean and Scott get a chance to say goodbye to each other one final time before The Phoenix’s power over Scott vanishes, and he dies in Jean’s arms. In a shift of power, Jean seems bigger than The Phoenix for the first time, and it starts desperately presenting her with scenarios in which they could be together, but Jean explains that living that sort of life is no life at all and surprisingly, The Phoenix lets Jean go. It almost looks sad as it tells Jean goodbye, and then it disappears leaving Jean in the rain with her friends and her husband’s corpse, with a whole new open future in front of her.