Friday, September 30, 2011
My Favorite Marvel: Jean Grey
If there is one person who really has his act together in the Marvel universe it is Mr. Sinister. I don't mean that he has his act together in that he's fighting for the right cause or doing anything good in any way. I mean that he just has the best taste in mutants. Mr. Sinister has been obsessed for hundreds of years with the bloodlines of Scott Summers and Jean Grey, and they just happen to be two of my absolute favorite characters in the Marvel universe. For that, Sinister ought to be applauded. He's like a foodie, only with individuals who have genetic mutations that give them amazing and terrible powers. For all the other stuff, Sinister can go... Well, I'm sure you know what he can do with himself.
If I had begun my X-Men experience as a child reading X-Men #1 and continuing throughout the various X-comics, I think my first love would have been Jean Grey. (As it was, my first X-Men experience involved watching X-Men: The Animated Series, and my first love was Rogue. Or was that my first lust? When you're young and being burned alive with testosterone those boundaries can be confusing.) Jean Grey was much like many of my real-life first loves for the boys of the original X-Men team. Many of them had never been noticed by a girl before, much less one so beautiful, and though they were constantly racked with doubt - I'm talking mostly about Scott Summers now, but I'm sure the others had their moments - Jean Grey made them feel really good about themselves when she was there and made them miss her when she was gone.
Now, much of this has been my understanding of Jean Grey through ruby-quartz glasses. But there is something about Jean Grey outside of Scott Summers' perception of her that is fantastic. For one, she's possibly the most powerful mutant of all time. But like Superman, her power is accompanied by a great deal of personal strength, of will. The first appearance of the Phoenix power manifested itself in Jean Grey when she was piloting a doomed space craft to Earth. Though there were others who were better pilots, others who were more manly, she sacrificed herself for the sake of the safety of the others. And through this sacrifice we were introduced to the Phoenix force for the first time. It was this show of great strength that brought Jean Grey strength beyond imagination. Once the Phoenix force was established, Jean Grey showed us what we should have been learning from over-powered DC characters for years, that immense power is tempting and terrifying, that it will drive you mad, that you will spend all of your life trying to keep this power under control.
And such is the myth of Jean Grey. Whether you're calling her Jean or Marvel Girl or Phoenix or Red, Jean Grey is simply one of the best characters ever created.