This weekend, the Fox X-Men universe comes to a final conclusion. As their culminating story, they chose to adapt the "Dark Phoenix" storyline from the Marvel comics. This film is sure to highlight the powerful feminine force that is Jean Grey, the Phoenix.
One of the founding members of the X-Men in the comics, there's no shortage of good Jean Grey stories. With Dark Phoenix debuting in theaters, it is a better time than any to look at some of her great storylines from the comics. Without any further ado, here are the top 10 most important Jean Grey stories.
10 X-Men #28
This may be one of Jean Grey's coolest moments. In 1994's X-Men #28, Professor X had mistakenly thought that the villainous Sabertooth was in need of help. In order to help Sabertooth control his murderous rage, Xavier brought him back to the X-Mansion to repair his fractured mind. Unfortunately for Xavier, Sabertooth was not very receptive.
Overpowering the rest of the X-Men as he made his escape, Sabertooth then came face-to-face with Jean Grey. Although no other X-Man could stop him, Jean easily subdued the rampaging psychopath using her telepathic ability. This story highlighted Jean's raw power, showing that she is one of the strongest mutants on the X-Men roster.
9 X-Men Origins: Jean Grey #1
This 2008 one-shot written by Sean McKeever was a true standout for the character. While the photorealism of the outwork is truly outstanding, it is the story that makes this comic great. As Jean's childhood best friend, Annie, is hit by a car, her telepathic abilities manifest for the first time. Jean is forced to experience the final thoughts of her dying friend and is traumatized as a result. With Professor Xavier's help, she works past her trauma and goes on to become a hero.
The tragic, lifelike beauty of this story and illustration makes X-Men Origins: Jean Grey a stand-out among her many stories. It is a must-read for the character, as it helps inform both how she became such a powerful entity and what monsters she has lurking in the back of her mind.
8 All-New X-Men
Losing hope for the future of mutant kind, Beast decides that what's missing in the modern world is the hope of the past. This leads him to grab the original five X-Men—Jean Grey, Iceman, Angel, Beast, and Cyclops—from the past.
Many changes are made to this time-displaced Jean. For instance, due to learning of their tragic future, Cyclops and Jean end their relationship. Instead, she begins somewhat of a romance with the young Beast. These five teenagers are forced to deal with the reality of their futures while trying to help ensure the future remains hopeful. Jean gets a central role, and in this incarnation, she becomes the team leader.
7 The Trial of Jean Grey
Captured by the space-faring Shi'ar empire, the teenage, time-displaced Jean Grey is put on trial for crimes her future self has already committed. Drawing immense power from deep within herself, Jean is able to escape her captors. The power she displays is both awe-inspiring and deeply terrifying.
In the end, she comes face-to-face with the most powerful champion of the Shi'ar: the Gladiator. The Gladiator is one of the few Marvel characters with Superman-level strength. He is so strong, he has even survived the explosion of entire planets. Despite all of this, Jean eventually defeats even him, showing the rest of the Marvel universe that she's a force to be reckoned with.
6 X-Men: Season One
Written by Dennis Hopeless, X-Men: Season One was a modern retelling of the original X-Men team, featuring the original five: Cyclops, Beast, Ice Man, Angel, and Jean Grey. In the original Stan Lee run, Jean played more of a passive role on the mutant team. With Hopeless’ adaption, that was no longer the case.
This reimagining fits Jean between learning about her new powers and dealing with a team of hormonal teenage boys. Not only did it push the character in new directions, X-Men: Season One also made Jean a relatable teenage girl, which wouldn’t be done again until All-New X-Men.
5 The Wedding of Cyclops & Phoenix
This was the moment X-Men fans had been waiting for. The two of them finally got hitched after years and years of comics. This story was a huge deal for the editors at Marvel, so much so that they even hired a professional to design Jean’s dress.
Although scores of current and former X-Men were in attendance, the most popular one of all time refused to show. Wolverine sent a heartfelt letter explaining his absence, due to his lingering feelings for the redhead. Although simply one issue (X-Men #30), this moment was one of the biggest in the X-Men's history. If only it had all worked out.
4 X-Cutioner's Song
This '90s story arc saw both Jean and Cyclops fight the mutant Stryfe, who, for unknown reasons, wishes to seek revenge on both of them. It turns out that this whole conflict was because Stryfe was the time-traveling son of Cyclops and Jean Grey (sort of), forced into the future by his father due to impending danger.
Actually, Cable is the son and Stryfe is Cable's clone. But let's not overcomplicate things too much. This story was full of action, and perfectly highlighted why the '90s were one of the greatest decades for X-Men comics. It also gave us a good look at why Cyclops and Jean were meant for each other.
3 Phoenix Endsong
When the alien Shi'Ar empire attempt to eliminate the Phoenix Force (the sentient source of Jean's Phoenix powers) for good, they accidentally release it. Hurdling towards Earth, the Phoenix Force quickly arrives and reanimates the corpse of Jean Grey, recreating the devastating "Dark Phoenix."
Over the course of the story, we see the X-Men hopelessly fight to subdue this unstoppable force. While the Jean we know and love is not in very much of this story, we slowly see consciousness chip away at the Phoenix Force's hold on her. Eventually, Jean's consciousness is able to subdue the cosmic entity, returning herself to the grave. This story not only showed the unstoppable nature of Jean's powers, but also her resilience and self-sacrificial nature.
2 New X-Men, Volume 1
Over the course of this comic book run written by Grant Morrison, Jean Grey had her fair share of important moments. Among them are Jean discovering Cyclops' psychic affair with telepath Emma Frost. This was a game changer for their relationship.
Another great moment was Jean saving Xavier's school from the U-Men, a military unit hoping to harvest the organs of innocent mutants. Jean, using her powers to defend the other X-Men, tragically dies at the end of this run, telling Cyclops to be with Emma.
1 The Dark Phoenix Saga
It cannot be understated how groundbreaking and influential The Dark Phoenix Saga was, not only for the X-Men but for all of comics. To this day, The Dark Phoenix Saga is lauded as one of the greatest comic book runs of all time. Having returned from a mission in space, Jean was exposed to a solar flare, giving her a huge power boost that makes her become the most powerful member of the X-Men. When the final barriers to this ultimate power shatter with Jean's mind, she renames herself "Dark Phoenix." Deciding to destroy her identity as Jean Grey, the Dark Phoenix cuts ties with the X-Men, defeating them in battle.
She goes on to drain the energy of a star just to sustain her power. Doing so kills the entire population of an alien planet. The X-Men battle Jean again, losing. However, Xavier manages to put some psychic barriers on her powers, returning her personality to normal. Shortly after, the Shi'ar alien empire abducts Jean to put her on trial for the murder of an entire planet. The X-Men battle the Shi'ar Imperial Guard to decide the fate of Jean, but when her powers begin to reemerge, she's forced to make a terrible choice. Knowing that the Dark Phoenix would return, Jean uses a weapon to disintegrate herself, after a short goodbye to her love, Cyclops.
But don't worry about Jean. Eventually, the Phoenix rises again.