I Just Finished – Jean Grey #7

Jean Grey, founding member of the X-Men way long ago, has been kidnapped out of time as a teenager and brought forward to an era where her adult self is long dead, and remembered primarily for becoming the all-powerful, all-corrupt entity known as the Phoenix. Now the leader of her teenage cohorts, Jean is on a quest to learn how she can avoid following in her older counterpart’s footsteps.

In the latest issues of her solo series, Jean has been meeting up with a different denizen of the Marvel Universe each month–all the other Phoenix hosts, Namor, Thor, Psylocke, Doctor Strange–all with the goal of learning how not to become the Phoenix. She’s also being stalked by the ghost of her older self.

This issue, she meets up with the Scarlet Witch. There’s a bond between these two 1960s-born heroines, one which author Jeff Parker clearly recognized when he wrote a humorous series of adventures for the two, as teens, in the back pages of X-Men First Class several years ago. Both are mutants. Both were the only women on their teams, Wanda first in The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and later in The Avengers.

Both are also women who became phenomenally powerful–Jean as the Phoenix, Wanda as the foremost practitioner of “chaos magic” in many universes.

Finally, both were found by creators to be problematic (not in the sense the word is used now), disgraced, and shoved off in corners. Wanda killed several of the Avengers, earning the hatred of most of her friends and quite a few readers, and Jean, well, Jean committed the cardinal sin of not being as interesting a bad-girl whore as the White Queen, Emma Frost. So she died. Twice.

In this story, Wanda comes to find young Jean to encourage her, to take her out for some fun times. She tells her suddenly much-younger friend that it’s not the power that drives you mad, it’s the stress. It’s refreshing to see Wanda played light for the first time in years, and to see her encouraging another heroine who was cast aside by the fraternity of fandom because she was too powerful.

My only complaint about this issue is that Ghost Jean comes off really bitchy. She inexplicably hates Wanda. It’s not clear why, since I believe Jean died (the latest time) well before Wanda lost her mind and destroyed the Avengers. I’m willing to withhold judgment, however, because the cliffhanger ending, in which Ghost Jean uses young Jean’s body to get to her arguably greatest nemesis, makes it look like next issue will be a great deal of fun.

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