SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey #1 by Matthew Rosenberg, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Rachelle Rosenberg and Travis Lanham, on sale now.
Jean Grey is dead. Long live Jean Grey!
While the younger incarnation of the X-Men’s founding female member was recently killed by the Phoenix, the adult one is back among the living. However, we already knew that the adult Jean Grey was returning; it’s been solicited for months.
What we didn’t know, of course, is the surprise return on the very last page. This particular moment changes everything we thought we knew, not only about this miniseries, but what it actually means for the future of the X-Men.
There are strange things afoot in the Marvel Universe, as the X-Men respond to an alert from Cerebro that something mutant-related has occurred in the quiet suburban town of Annandale-on-Hudson. Arriving on the scene, the team finds two children in apparent psychic distress, floating a few feet off the ground and bleeding from their faces. What the X-Men don’t know is that the pair had recently come across a little girl with empty, black eyes A child who seemingly came back to life and uttered a mysterious and seemingly nonsensical sentence before a different little girl arrived and attacked them with dead birds.
Keen readers of the X-Men will know that Annandale-on-Hudson is the home of the Grey family, leading Rachel Grey to comment that she used to have family around there. The reason why she mentions that in the past tense might be the key to the mystery at the heart of Annandale. A decade ago, the entire Grey family was slaughtered by Shi’Ar death commandos as part of the “End of Greys” storyline. The attack was an attempt to stop the Phoenix Force from ever manifesting again, and it left Rachel as the remaining member of her cross-timeline family. The storyline concluded with the deceased Jean Grey welcoming her murdered family into The White Hot Room, a sort-of heaven dimension which she had ascended to.
This is important, because the mysterious phrase the little girl said was DAED RETTEB FFO EREW DAED, which reversed gives you the ominous “We were better off dead”. It seems the return of Jean Grey might have brought back the entire Grey family from the White Hot Room, and they’re not too happy about it. Rachel even feels the disturbance upon entering Annandale, muttering the backwards warning to herself as she departs the plane. However, we said there was a big return in this issue that isn’t Jean Grey, and this isn’t it; the debut issue has a last page which will knock your socks off.
The X-Men, led by Kitty Pryde, split up into three teams to invesetigate the mysterious phenomena around the world tied into the energy they tacked to Annandale. Kitty herself leads a team to the former Hellfire Club, Rogue leads the time-displaced X-Men to Mont Saint Francis, and the Weapon X team heads to the North Pole.
Each location has a connection to Jean, which the X-Men don’t seem to have realized. The Hellfire Club is where Mastermind manipulated Jean into becoming Dark Phoenix; Mont Saint Francis was the location of a huge fight between The X-Men and The Acolytes in Uncanny X-Men #300; and the North Pole is where the Phoenix Force last attempted to resurrect Jean Grey in Phoenix: Endsong. At each location, the teams fight enemies who shouldn’t be there, and who disappear just as strangely, as around the world people witness a flash of the Phoenix raptor in the sun.
Meanwhile, we learn Jean Grey is working as a waitress in a small town diner. It seems she has no memory of being a mutant, or a member of the X-Men. She’s not the only one, either, as she takes the order of a Mr. Cassidy who — judging by his sideburns and use of the word “lass” — seems to be Sean Cassidy, AKA Banshee. It’s unclear if Banshee recognizes Jean, or if he has a larger role to play in the story. He hasn’t been seen since he was brought back to life as one of The Apocalypse Twins’ four horsemen of death and he was left in the care of the X-Men as Beast worked on a cure to purge him of the death seed energy. It’s pretty exciting that Banshee is back after such a long time… but he still isn’t the big return in Phoenix Resurrection!
The issue ends with Jean returning home to her parents — who should also be dead, killed by the Shi’Ar death commandos — and telling them about her weird day. Jean plans to have a lie down, but her father reminds her that they’re expecting a guest. At that moment, the doorbell rings and Jean answers it to find none other than Scott Summers waiting for her with a bouquet of flowers.
Cyclops, of course, died as a result of the M-Pox caused by exposure to Terrigen Mist, but he seems fine and dandy in the final page of Phoenix Resurrection. He’s still wearing his trademark red specs, and like Jean herself, there’s no indication he has any memory or knowledge of being a member of the X-Men.
It makes sense if you think about the title, keep in mind the book is called Phoenix Resurrection and not Jean Grey: Resurrection. Cyclops was the Phoenix too during Avengers vs X-Men and if our theory about the Grey family is correct, they all had their own connection to the Phoenix via the White Hot Room. What if the Phoenix hasn’t just brought back Jean Grey, but everyone connected to the Phoenix? It already killed the time-displaced Jean Grey, but what could be its ultimate plan? While in the past it has been depicted as a force of nature, this is The Phoenix Force as a shrewd and cunning plotter, which is somehow even scarier.