As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.
JEAN GREY vol 2 #3
Writer: Louise Simonson
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colour artist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Design: Jay Bowen
Editor: Sarah Brunstad
COVER / PAGE 1. Jean Grey fights the Goblin Queen.
PAGES 2-4. Jean confronts “Madelyne”, and gets interrupted by Hope.
Okay, for once we’re going to take this a panel at a time.
Page 2 panel 1. So far in this series, we’ve been following Jean’s disembodied mind as she thinks back on her life, following her “death” in X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023. We’ve already been through two possible scenarios where her life could have gone differently, but making the other choice turned out even worse. The previous issue ended with Jean turning her focus to her clone Madelyne Pryor, who ought to be familiar to everyone since she’s starring in Dark X-Men. But we’ll come to her back story in a bit shortly.
Page 2 panel 2. This is a jump pack to Jean’s disorientation at the start of issue #1, complete with fragmented images of many of the same events. From left to right:
- A fragment of a panel of the Avengers releasing Jean from suspended animation in Avengers #263.
- Jean as Dark Phoenix.
- Beast travels back in time to recruit the Silver Age X-Men in All-New X-Men #1 (2012).
- Some sort of explosion effect, probably intended to be the shuttle where Jean becomes Phoenix in X-Men #100-101.
- Dark Phoenix again.
- Jean as a child with her dying friend Annie Richardson, from the flashback in Bizarre Adventures #28 (this is where Jean’s telepathy emerges, which is why it’s a formative memory).
- The young X-Men with Kid Cable from the Extermination miniseries.
- Beast, Cyclops and Jean as members of X-Factor, apparently from the tail end of their run with the team.
- Jean in costume.
Page 2 panel 3. The desert is the (apparently symbolic) setting for the Krakoan exodus in Immortal X-Men. In Immortal X-Men #16, Exodus and Hope find a delirious Jean in the desert, babbling her dialogue from the end of the previous issue.
Page 2 panel 4. Jean’s focus shifts back to Madelyne. The real Madelyne isn’t here – as noted, she’s in Dark X-Men – so this is Jean’s memory of Madelyne asserting its control over her, or, if you prefer, Jean’s unresolved feelings about Madelyne manifesting as Madelyne herself. Madelyne’s comments about being “shackled” by Jean’s memories are to do with her lack of authentic memories of her own history beyond fragments of Jean’s history.
Page 2 panel 5. This is Hope from Immortal X-Men #16.
Page 2 panel 6. Jean seems to be briefly aware here of what happened at the Hellfire Gala.
Page 3. Again, Exodus and Hope are simply repeating their scene from Immortal X-Men #16. Jean is preoccupied with Madelyne and doesn’t pick up on the reference to the White Hot Room.
Page 4. We’ll get to the details of Inferno shortly. Note though that Madelyne – who is just an aspect of Jean – plays the narrator role for most of this issue, instead of Jean proper.
PAGE 5. Recap and credits.
PAGES 6-8. Jean and Madelyne recap the original plot.
This is a basically straight recap of Madelyne’s history as it leads up to “Inferno”, the major summer crossover of 1989.
Mr Sinister. Madelyne’s actual back story as a creation of Mr Sinister is revealed in Uncanny X-Men #241, during Inferno itself.
“Awakened by the Phoenix Force.” This is also from Uncanny X-Men #241. The idea of the original story is that the Phoenix took part of Jean’s soul with it in X-Men #100-101 and tried to return it to Jean after she died on the moon. Because of the atrocities committed by Dark Phoenix, Jean rejected it, and it wound up animating Madelyne instead. “Inferno” was originally meant to be the point where Madelyne was reabsorbed back into Jean.
“I married Scott…” In Uncanny X-Men #175.
“…produced Nathan Christopher…” Nathan is born in Uncanny X-Men #200.
“…and was abandoned by Scott when he learned that you still lived.” Scott leaves Madelyne and Nathan to be with the recently-revived Jean Grey in X-Factor #1, which is a big part of Madelyne’s motivation but was widely seen as making Scott look pretty awful. Jean chips in to insist that Scott did try to return home and was led to believe that Madelyne was dead – this comes from X-Factor #13-15.
The rest of page 6 is the build-up to Inferno, during the X-Men’s Australia era.
“He found Christopher – he was cryogenically frozen, in a secret creche…” This fight with Nanny and the Orphan-Maker, and Nate being abducted by demons, comes from X-Factor #35, in the immediate run-up to Inferno. Jean’s “What If…?” turning point for this issue is “What if Jean had stopped the demons from abducting Nate?”
PAGES 9-13. Alt-Madelyne and Mr Sinister.
This confrontation with Sinister – including the stuff with the chains and Sinister challenging Madelyne to remember anything about her childhood – is an alternative version of Uncanny X-Men #241. Page 10 panel 2 is another flashback to Bizarre Adventures #27, and panel 3 is the end of the Dark Phoenix Saga in X-Men #137. N’Astirh’s reaction is different in the original story – he’s more excited about Madelyne’s uncontrollable power. Here, he’s worried that the plan is going off the rails and that Madelyne needs to be set back on track.
In the original story, two random demons attack Sinister, rather than N’astirh and S’ym, but we’re streamlining the story for thematic reasons. (As pointed out in the comments, specifically, the random demons in the original story are actually Jean’s transformed parents, but nothing really turns on that so far as this story is concerned.)
In this version, Madelyne is able to seize the techno-organic virus from S’ym (which was a big storyline about the demons of Limbo in New Mutants at the time), and turn herself fully into a non-human version of Jean Grey.
PAGES 14-15. Scott and Jean arrive back in New York.
This version of Inferno is actually quite tame compared to the original, where buildings were eating people. It seems to be mostly vines.
Ship was X-Factor’s headquarters at the time. It was a living spaceship that they liberated from Apocalypse.
PAGES 16-21. Jean fights Madelyne.
This doesn’t really fit the pattern of the previous two issues, of Jean herself going on a path which turns out to be self-destructive – instead, it’s just Madelyne being just as big a threat whether she successfully steals baby Nate or not. The key point is that the Phoenix Force shows up on page 18 to ask Jean to accept it and return to life – which fits with the idea that she’s reconstituting herself in the White Hot Room. Jean rejects the Phoenix Force altogether, and Madelyne destroys everything. The end.
PAGE 22. Jean tries again.
As she points out, she accepted the Phoenix in the real world, and over the last couple of issues she’s tried sending it to someone else and rejecting it altogether, and none of these options seem to work.
The various Jeans seen in the final panel are:
- On the far left, the hand of … well, almost any Jean that wore gloves.
- Another generic Jean who’s mostly off panel.
- Late Silver Age Jean in the green miniskirt and yellow mask.
- Dark Phoenix in red.
- Early Silver Age Jean in the black and yellow team uniform.
- 1990s Jean, talking to us.
- A burning Jean who I think is meant to be the version from “Here Comes Tomorrow”, at the end of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men. The most recent Jean here, in fact.
- Age of Apocalypse Jean Grey.
- A mostly obscured Jean who’s probably the sane version of Phoenix
- The left hand of Morrison/Quitely Jean Grey from New X-Men.
PAGE 23. Trailers. The Krakoan reads ASHES TO ASHES.