Legendary X-Men comics writer Chris Claremont, who collaborated with artist John Byrne on the seminal "Dark Phoenix Saga," says he wishes Jean Grey had remained dead.
In comic books, it is an unwritten rule that only Peter Parker's Uncle Ben and Bruce Wayne's parents are truly, permanently dead. Speaking to SYFY WIRE, the acclaimed X-Men writer revisits the fact that if he had his way, Jean Grey would have also been on that short list.
“I would have been much happier if she’d stayed dead," Claremont said of Jean's then-controversial resurrection. "The other X-Men suddenly realized, 'We are mortal. We are not protected by the fact that we’re all copyrighted and trademarked.'”
Just five years after Jean's demise at the end of "Dark Phoenix Saga" in 1980, Marvel delivered one of the biggest comic book retcons of all time when it brought the hero back to life in Fantastic Four #286. The return, orchestrated by Byrne, who was writing and illustrating FF at the time, caught Claremont by surprise. He had spent the previous half-decade writing stories based on the presumption that Jean was gone for good; stories that included Scott Summer, aka Cyclops, mourning her death, then moving on to get married and have a child.
Jean's return kickstarted her relationship with Scott Summers once again. With Scott having married Madelyne Pryor only a year before, Jean's comeback created a moral problem for the former X-Men leader.
“You’re talking about taking a character, having him walk out on his wife and newborn son to go back to his old girlfriend,” Claremont recalled. “What kind of hero would do that?” Scott eventually left Madelyne to join X-Factor with Jean, a decision that still remains unpopular with a portion of X-Men fans.
Jean would eventually die again, years later, a demise that would stick far longer than her original. It, too, was eventually undone, however; following her recent rebirth in the Phoenix Resurrection miniseries , Jean can currently be found leading her own team in the pages of X-Men Red.