Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Rant: Avengers vs. X-men and the Jean Grey Fans it Torments

Since I don't have another review to offer this week, I figured I would try something different with this blog. I've got some liquor in me and I may or may not have snorted coffee grounds after thinking they were some left over blow, so I'm too wired to pass out. With Avengers vs. X-men inching closer and no more football as a distraction, there's a lot for us fanboys to discuss and wildly ramble about. This is Marvel's biggest event in quite some time. This is an event that has been building since House of M, a story that was told over half a freakin' decade ago. You can't fault Marvel for thinking long term and I'm looking forward to this event almost as much as a bender in Las Vegas. However, there's element that has been causing quite a stir among a certain segment of fans and Avengers vs. X-men threatens to change it in a way that will either piss them off or make them lick the mud off of the Marvel editor's shoes.

That threat has a name, Jean Grey. I've mentioned her many times in my drunken reviews. I've pointed out on various occasions how utterly fucked it is that Marvel has been using her imagery and her persona to essentially replace her. First, Emma Frost took over as the top telepath of the X-men and the de-facto fuck buddy for Cyclops. Never mind that their relationship has absolutely none of the depth that Jean had with Cyclops. It started off intriguing under Whedon, but since then writers like Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction have turned their relationship into a mix between a bad porno and an episode of Two and a Half Men. They don't show any romance. They just fuck as if that gives them more meaning than Cyclops and Jean, who raised a fucking child together and got married. But I digress.

The second and most egregious fucked-upedness that Marvel employed came in the form of Hope Summers. This is a character that was completely new when she was created in Messiah Complex. Marvel could have made her look like anything they wanted. They could have given her green skin and pink hair. They could have given her Betty White's face and Megan Fox's rack. Instead, they gave her red hair and green eyes like Jean Grey. That in and of itself isn't too fucked up because there are a lot of famous redheads in Marvel like Black Widow and Mary Jane Watson that fit that description. But none of them have the fucking Phoenix Force. And Hope has shown traces of the Phoenix Force since she was a baby. It's on panel to the point where it's not hard to ignore unless your blind, drunk, and brain damaged.

Yet Marvel insists that Hope is not Jean and will not acknowledge any connection. When it came up during their big Youtube announcement, Marvel's big wigs were completely silent. They were silent when I asked a Jean related question in a recent CBR X-POSITION. It's led some of the vocal Jean Grey fans that have managed to stay alive in the nearly 10 years since Jean Grey was killed off to express hope that Hope (no pun intended this time) will somehow lead to her return.

Now I would love for this to happen. I've grown really sick of Hope. She's a brat. She's a whiny bitch. She insists on dressing like Jean, acting like Cable, and playing the general role of a replacement character. However, that would make way too much sense. Marvel has done this before. They've teased the return of Jean Grey by connecting it with some big ass story that gets people talking. Whenever asked about it, they're silent as they're contractually obligated to be under threat of torture. Yet every instance when this has happened in recent times has turned out to be complete fucking bullshit. Everybody remember this?

Or what about this?

They both followed the same theme. Marvel hinted it and then laughed their ass off before saying "psyche!" at the end. This doesn't even get into the Phoenix Endsong and Phoenix Warsong series. While the first story was great in that it ended with Jean merging with the Phoenix, it was utterly and completely swept under the rug. Phoenix Warsong began the trend when it told a Phoenix story WITHOUT Jean Grey. And low and behold, it was poorly reviewed and didn't sell anywhere near as well as it's predecessor. You would think that Marvel would learn a lesson that having the Phoenix without Jean Grey is like having peanut butter without jelly, tits without ass, or weed without a jumbo bag of Doritos. But no. They haven't learned. They decided to pretty much cast Jean Grey aside and just use her imagery. That's like trying make shit smell like roses. It's an impossible task and a dick move.

But that's what has been done over the past few years. It all came to a head when Hope Summers returned in the epic X-men event, Second Coming. It was the first time Hope manifested the Phoenix Force in a full, Jean Grey-ish type way. She defeated Bastion and helped kick start the mutant species once more. But that moment was almost secondary to this.

Now it's not even being teased. Hope and the Phoenix Force are linked. Marvel isn't even denying that anymore. But there's still no mention of Jean Grey or how the events of Phoenix Endsong fit in if at all. They've only focused on the Phoenix Force and mention Jean Grey only as the unlucky bitch that died because of it. When Avengers vs. X-men was first hinted it, it came in the form of a Phoenix teaser.

That teaser has no mention of Jean Grey and neither has any subsequent announcement. It's gotten to the point where Marvel is starting to change the Phoenix mythos entirely and link it to other characters who never so much as uttered anything about it in decades. Case and point, Iron Fist.

So what does this all mean and why am I wasting perfectly good liquor talking about it? Well it's led me to conclude that Marvel is going to keep breaking the hearts of every Jean Grey fan in comic fandom. They're going to keep separating the Phoenix Force from her even if that means outright ignoring what happened in Phoenix Endsong. They want Jean's imagery, but they don't want to go through the trouble of bringing her back because for reasons that I can only assume are personal to the point of being a fucking phobia they don't want to bring her back. They claim they love her, but she's the fucking Phoenix and they're keeping her dead. In the same time that Jean has been dead, characters like Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, Colossus, Psylocke, Thor, Cable, Hawkeye, and Sabretooth (who had his fucking head chopped off mind you) have come back to life. And they don't have the Phoenix Force. When a character whose very name implies that she comes back is kept dead, something done been horribly fucked up.

All this subtle bullshit leads me to believe that Avengers vs. X-men won't end with Jean Grey coming back in any real form. It'll probably end with the Phoenix Force being retconned or revamped to not need Jean Grey at all. It'll probably make it so Hope is a permanent replacement of sorts, one which Marvel could use as an excuse anytime someone asks about Jean Grey. It's a cop out and not a very good one. I want to believe that Marvel won't stoop to that level, but I've yet to see anything that would indicate otherwise.

Now let me disclose that I'm just a drunk here and there's definitely a chance that Marvel could prove me wrong. They could actually bring Jean Grey back with this event. They could make me have to post an equally long post apologizing for this post and offering to buy them all the beer in Frankfurt. I actually hope this happens. I usually don't want to be wrong, but this is once instance where I hope the talent at Marvel shuts me up and makes me look like a fool (as if I don't do that enough on this blog). However, given the history of Jean Grey teases I find it hard to hope otherwise until it actually happens.

So that leads me to one final prospect. A few days ago I started a thread on the CBR X-men Message Board asking if Jean doesn't return in AvX, then will that be the death knell to her fans that are constantly hoping for her return? Will they give up hope now that it looks like Jean will be dead for more than a decade? I don't base my love of Marvel comics on Jean Grey's return. I'll read, review, and embrace Avengers vs. X-men if it's awesome and the books after it. But Jean Grey remains a huge issue for Marvel fanboys of many stripes. With the Phoenix being center stage in this story, this may be the best time and the best stage to bring her back. If it doesn't happen, I don't see another chance like this coming along for a very long time. But again, I hope I'm wrong. I can't predict the future, but I can get wasted in the present. I suppose that's all we fanboys can do until Avengers vs. X-men finally arrives. Nuff said!


  1. The biggest piece of bullshit is that out of ALL the characters that have died...Jean's return makes sense. It's expected. It's what a phoenix does. Marvel bends over backwards to kiss their own ass when they come up with some fucked up way to bring someone back (Ariel?! really wtf?!). You can only get cock teased enough to the point where you push the stripper off your lap and go and take care of business with your own hands. Marvel is really good at building up to a story, but the end or the outcome is NEVER EVER as good as you think it's going to be.

  2. Thanks for adding that. I forgot to mention Ariel as well. I mean, how the fuck is there more demand for Ariel to come back than Jean Grey? There isn't. It's just that simple. I want to believe that Marvel is just setting everything up for Jean, but given how stories like Fear Itself ended I'm not assuming it's going to be that awesome until I read it. Thanks again!


  3. Haha. This was fun to read. I also echo the strangeness that was Ariel's resurrection as at the time I had no idea who she was (and to be honest I still don't).

    Jean is a special character indeed as she's one of the few characters whose "death" actually matters because it's felt both in the story and in the tone of the X-Universe itself. Think of all the main characters that have died over the years, whether they came back at some point or not,: does it ever feel like the survivors notice much after all is said and done? Nightcrawler's been gone a while and I can't recall anyone mentioning that or it affecting someone's behavior post mortem (and I love Nightcrawler), but with Jean this is clear throughout the series.

    And with Jean gone there is definitely a sense of heart missing to the core books. Jean may never have been an actual leader but (almost) everyone loved her and no one short of Xavier could draw a group together and give it some focus like she could. It doesn't seem that long ago that she disappeared, but her exit from the books was about when I stopped buying them regularly. There's been good stuff since then but I'm missing Jean's graceful balance to all the dark and gritty I've been seeing lately.

    And it's not like the character doesn't have potential. Whenever someone says she's a boring character I wonder "Did they not read X-Men #28?" That perfectly depicts everything I love about Jean and the great flaming space turkey is nowhere to be seen.

    In the end I agree that if Marvel doesn't bring her back with AvX odds are she'll be gone for the foreseeable future, and I believe Marvel did say that to bring her back they'd need a story big enough to justify it. So just maybe avoiding her is them trying to avoid spoiling the story, or maybe they're just tired of hearing it. I guess we'll see.

  4. It's like they're taking a shit on my soul.

  5. Thanks for the comments, guys. I still find it fucked up that characters like Ariel and Sabretooth come back to life while Jean Grey stays dead. Where was there any poll or question demanding that Marvel bring Ariel back? It doesn't exist. This whole waiting for the right story just feels like a ruse. Marvel just seems against any action that would bring Jean Grey back. They want her to be Gwen Stacy. That would be all well and good if she DIDN'T HAVE THE FUCKING PHOENIX FORCE. I agree. It is akin to taking a shit on the souls of Jean Grey fans.


  6. I have two things that I think would be awesome

    1) They bring Jean Back, and reunite the original 5 for a new series going forward, which with Phoenix, up and coming Omega level mutant Bobby, post Dark Angel Saga Warren, and Hank and Scott who no longer get along would be really interesting


    2) The phoenix plucks all versions of Jean Grey from multiverse, and creates a Jean army as a third player in the AvX conflict

    These are both unlikely scenarios, but how cool?

  7. I agree. Those scenarios are very cool, which is exactly why they probably won't happen. It just makes too much sense and Marvel isn't about making sense at the moment. Sad but true.


  8. Don't know if anyone has thought of this....but if we take our minds back to Endsong/Warsong we can establish two things 1) The Phoenix was shattered into an unknown number of pieces 2) Jean reclaims some of the Phoenix and enters the White hot room, Scott's last words are for her to find all her missing pieces. Now I'm thinking that Jean has recovered most of these fragments, hence the power of Korvus's blade leaving him and Rachel's words 'Please Mom not now..". Now bare with me, but what if a fragment of the Phoenix happened to say, possess a child i.e. Hope Summers. The phoenix is extremely familiar with Jean Grey, so it's not a giant leap for this fragment to want something familiar i.e. a girl with red hair and green eyes. I'm thinking that Hope is actually the host to a fragment of the Phoenix, just as powerful, as was mentioned in Ednsong, the phoenix is an infinitely powerful cosmic force and what is a fraction of infinity??

    Jean grey appeared to Emma telling her to prepare, what if Jean+Phoenix is recovering in the White hot room and only has limited ability to intervene in this situation, could we be leading up to a permanent split in the phoenix force? A phoenix vs phoenix type event. Is Hope's manifestation of the Phoenix stable? She seems to anger very easily....her control over the Lights isn't very ethical etc.

    Just some thgought...what do you think?

  9. It's a nice theory, but there's one problem with it. It makes too much sense. Marvel doesn't usually go that route. They're more content to shock readers and pull new shit out of their ass rather than clear up plot holes from past books. I don't like it either, but that's usually how they roll. So I'm not going to speculate on how right you'll be, but I hope you got at least some elements right. The story would be better because of it. Thanks for commenting!


  10. Funny how someone who's name I don't know can come up with something far more entertaining and enticing then writers names 'everyone' knows. There were people who had issues with Phoenix: Endsong/Warsong...I loved the series it made sense. It had the same 'taste' as Grant Morrison and left you with just enough to want more. Didn't the fragments that were in the Cuckoos leave them as well? As good as a Phoenix vs. Phoenix/Jean Grey would be...I think Hope & Scarlet Witch makes more sense. "i made you...i can unmake you." Jean needs to come Jean...simple as that.

  11. I enjoyed Phoenix Endsong. I thought Phoenix Warsong was a bad joke. Everyone seems to have ignored Warsong anyways so I really don't see much merit for it. Yeah, the Cuckoos lost their Phoenix piece, but when was that even mentioned at other points in the comic? It's like Marvel isn't keeping up with their own shit anymore. That's why I'm convinced that they won't bring Jean back. If they can avoid it, they will.

  12. urgh, when i frst saw the teaser pics for avx, i losted it and i just knew that wth was the long awaited return of jean, naturally as a really really really huge jean fan i followed closly to news about the event, as i was thinkng about the players and trying to figure out how the avengers was going to be involved in the story(note: iam pretty good a calling marvel events)and thinking about the players, i realized that this is not going to be a resurrection for jean, they are only using her imagery to gain interest for hope, (whch really sucks, i dont dislike hope but this really pisses me off)
    it breaks down like this
    cyclopes believes that hope will heal the mutant community and her connection to the phoenix force is the answer
    captain america knows that with the phoenix come destruction and have probably have some contingency plan in case it ever came to earth
    and thats where the conflict arises scott must stop the avengers from destroying/ blocking the phoneix from earth...
    scarlet witch will probably seek the phoenix forces powers to reignite the mutant comunity herself as atonement for hom since she lost that power in the children's crusade
    which leave little to no need to involve jean in this event
    the only hope that jean will be in this event/return for good is whatever link she may or may not have to hope(which is impossible to speculate on because marvel has been extremely vague with hopes past) which isn't very encouraging but you never know marvel might surprse us jean-nuts

    1. Back in 1975, Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #19, written by Chris Claremont, introduced us to the Firebird which represented the soul and potential goodness for the Earth!

      Before the Great Cataclysm just after the N’Garai were banished from ruling the Earth, a woman known as Jade was physically and sexually assaulted by a band of men and left for dead in the woods. When she recovered she was so mentally anguished that she prayed for death and in response, she was exposed to a blinding light which set her afire, and transformed her into the Firebird, the mystical embodiment of all that is good, kind, decent and noble in humanity.

      In this way Jade represented all that is best, and served as humanity’s soul, and thus lifted humanity out of the charnal pit the N’Garai had dug for it, allowing it to rise above its damned infancy.

      Millennia later, the demon sorcerer, Dhasha Khan, sought to power of the Firebird directing a group of people to assault its human manifestation, Jade, in Feng-Tu, the realm of the dead for the people of K’un L’un.

      This assault was prevented by Iron Fist, who it was suggested was Firebird’s protector.

      With this in mind, it’s interesting that the upcoming Avengers Vs X-Men is suggesting that Iron Fist is the protector of the Firebird.

      Given Bendis and crew are fans of Marvel’s 70s period, I wonder if the plot is a thruline from this story…

      So perhaps Hope Summers isn’t Jean Grey, but Jade reincarnated from Feng-Tu.

      And K’un L’un’s Book of the Dead reveals that the duty of each Iron Fist down the ages has been to protect each incarnation of her!

  13. You are so right. Jean Grey is awesome, point blank. It puzzles me that Marvel would kill bankable characters and leave them dead this long. Nightcrawler, too. Both Jean and Nightcrawler are A-list and franchise builders. Besides Cyclops, the only REAL X-Men on his side right now are Psylcoke, Colossus and Storm, arguably Dazzler. The rest are kids, former villains, non mutants and B-listers and below from other books. (Don't get me wrong, I love Magik and some of the others)...but please. They've done a bad thing in taking away a star from their catalogue.

  14. Well they already brought in a replacement Nightcrawler from AOA so they have that role filled. But that's an alternate universe version so it's somewhat more salient. Hope Summers was conjured out of thin air from farts and nothingness to replace Jean Grey. That's what makes her such a massive dick move. I get bringing characters back from the dead is tricky, but when one of them has the fucking Phoenix Force there are no excuses. Not one. Zilch! Nuff said.