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Jean Grey

Jean Grey
Jean Grey as Phoenix.
Interior artwork from Astonishing X-Men vol. 2, 1 (September 1999). Art by Brandon Peterson.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance X-Men #1 (September 1963)
Created by Stan Lee
Jack Kirby
In-story information
Alter ego Jean Grey-Summers
Species Human Mutant
Team affiliations Phoenix Corps
The Twelve
Notable aliases Marvel Girl, Red, Phoenix, Dark Phoenix, White Phoenix of the Crown, Redd Dayspring
  • Telekinesis
  • Telepathy
  • Mind reading and control
  • Memory alteration and erasure
  • Psionic blasts

Phoenix Force:

  • Matter and energy manipulation
  • Time manipulation
  • Space travel
  • "Cosmic fire"
  • Disintegration energy
  • Resurrection from death and manipulation of life energy in others

Jean Grey, or Jean Grey-Summers, is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics and is a founding member of the X-Men. Jean Grey has been known under the aliases Marvel Girl, Phoenix, and Dark Phoenix. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in The X-Men #1 (September 1963).

Jean Grey is a member of a subspecies of humans known as mutants, who are born with superhuman abilities. She was born with telepathic and telekinetic powers. Her powers first manifested when she saw her childhood friend being hit by a car. She is a caring, nurturing figure, but she also has to deal with being an Omega-level mutant and the physical manifestation of the cosmic Phoenix Force. Jean Grey experienced a transformation into the Phoenix in the X-Men storyline "The Dark Phoenix Saga". She has faced death numerous times in the history of the series. Her first death was under her guise as Marvel Girl, when she died and was "reborn" in the X-Men storyline "The Dark Phoenix Saga" as Phoenix. This transformation led to her second death, though not her last.

She is an important figure in the lives of other Marvel Universe characters, mostly the X-Men, including her husband Cyclops, her mentor and father figure Charles Xavier, her romantic interest Wolverine, her best friend and sister-like figure Storm, and her genetic children Rachel Summers, X-Man, Cable, and Stryfe.

The character was present for much of the X-Men's history, and she was featured in all three X-Men animated series and several video games. She is a playable character in X-Men Legends (2004), X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (2005), Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (2009), Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (2011), Marvel Heroes (2013), and Lego Marvel Super Heroes (2013), and appeared as an enemy in the first Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.

Famke Janssen portrayed Jean in five installments of the X-Men films. Sophie Turner will portray a younger version of Jean Grey in the upcoming 2016 film, X-Men: Apocalypse.

In 2006, IGN rated Jean Grey #6 on their list of Top 25 X-Men from the past forty years,[1] and in 2011, IGN ranked her 13th in the Top 100 Comic Book Heroes.[2] Her Dark Phoenix persona was ranked 9th in IGN's "Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time" list.[3] She was ranked third in Comics Buyer's Guide's 100 Sexiest Women in Comics list.[4]

Publication history

Debut (1960s)

Created by writer Stan Lee and artist/co-writer Jack Kirby, Jean first appeared as Marvel Girl in X-Men #1 (September 1963). The original team's sole female member, Marvel Girl was a regular part of the team through the series' publication. Initially possessing the ability of telekinesis, the character was later granted the power of telepathy,[5] which would be retconned years later as a suppressed mutant ability.[6] She began a relationship with Scott Summers, which persisted as her main romantic relationship throughout the X-Men franchise, though she would also harbor a secret attraction to teammate Wolverine.[7]

"The Phoenix Saga" and "The Dark Phoenix Saga" (1976-1980)

Marvel Girl becomes Phoenix. (X-Men, vol. 1 #101) Art by Dave Cockrum.
Under the authorship of Chris Claremont and the artwork of first Dave Cockrum and then John Byrne in the late 1970s, Jean Grey underwent a significant transformation from the X-Men's weakest member[8] to its most powerful.

In an attempt to save her fellow X-Men by piloting their damaged shuttle back to earth, Jean was exposed to fatal levels of radiation. Dying but determined to save Scott and her friends, Jean's love pushed her to reach her full potential as a psychic and telekinetic.[9] The ship landed in Jamaica Bay, with the other X-Men unharmed. Jean then surfaced wearing a new green and gold costume and adopted the codename Phoenix, having gained immense powers.[9]

This new identity and immense abilities eventually resulted in Jean becoming overwhelmed and corrupted by her god-like powers after a failed attempt by the villainous group called the Hellfire Club to control her mind. She transformed into a force of total destruction; now called Dark Phoenix, she consumed a star, inadvertently killing the inhabitants of the star's planetary system, and jeopardized the entire universe. Eventually, in a regained moment of mental clarity, Jean committed suicide to ensure the universe's, and her fellow X-Men's, safety.

The storyline in which Jean Grey died as Marvel Girl and was reborn as Phoenix (Uncanny X-Men [vol. 1] #101-108, 1976–1977) has been retroactively dubbed by fans "The Phoenix Saga", and the storyline of her eventual corruption and death as Dark Phoenix (Uncanny X-Men, vol. 1 #129-138, 1980) has been termed "The Dark Phoenix Saga". This storyline is one of the most well-known and heavily referenced in mainstream American superhero comics, and is widely considered a classic, including Jean Grey's suicidal sacrifice.[10][11][12]

When the first trade paperback of "The Dark Phoenix Saga" was published in 1984, Marvel also published a 48-page special issue titled Phoenix: The Untold Story. It contained the original version of Uncanny X-Men #137, the original splash page for Uncanny X-Men #138, and transcripts of a roundtable discussion between Shooter, Claremont, Byrne, editors Jim Salicrup and Louise Jones, and inker Terry Austin about the creation of the new Phoenix persona, the development of the story, and what led to its eventual change, and Claremont and Byrne's plans for Jean Grey had she survived.[13]

Claremont revealed that his and Cockrum's motivation for Jean Grey's transformation into Phoenix was to create "the first female cosmic hero".[14] The two hoped that, like Thor had been integrated into The Avengers lineup, Phoenix would also become an effective and immensely powerful member of the X-Men. However, both Salicrup and Byrne had strong feelings against how powerful Phoenix had become, feeling that she drew too much focus in the book.[14] Byrne worked with Claremont to effectively remove Phoenix from the storyline, initially by removing her powers. However, Byrne's decision to have Dark Phoenix destroy an inhabited planetary system in Uncanny X-Men #135, coupled with the planned ending to the story arc, worried then-Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter, who felt that allowing Jean to live at the conclusion of the story was both morally unacceptable (given that she was now a "mass murderer")[13] and also an unsatisfying ending from a storytelling point of view.[13] Shooter publicly laid out his reasoning in the 1984 roundtable:

I personally think, and I've said this many times, that having a character destroy an inhabited world with billions of people, wipe out a starship and then—well, you know, having the powers removed and being let go on Earth. It seems to me that that's the same as capturing Hitler alive and letting him go live on Long Island. Now, I don't think the story would end there. I think a lot of people would come to his door with machine guns...[14]

One of the creative team's questions that affected the story's conclusion was whether the Phoenix's personality and later descent into madness and evil were inherent to Jean Grey or if the Phoenix was itself an entity merely possessing her.[14] The relationship between Jean Grey and the Phoenix would continue to be subject to different interpretations and explanations by writers and editors at Marvel Comics following the story's retcon in 1986. At the time of the Dark Phoenix's creation, Byrne felt that, "If someone could be seen to corrupt Jean, rather than her just turning bad, this could make for an interesting story."[15] Salicrup and Byrne stated later that they viewed Phoenix as an entity that entirely possessed Jean Grey, therefore absolving her of its crimes once it was driven out.[14] However, the creative and editorial team ultimately agreed that Phoenix had been depicted as an inherent and inseparable aspect of Jean Grey, meaning that the character was fully responsible for her actions as Phoenix. As a result, Shooter ordered that Claremont and Byrne rewrite issue #137 to explicitly place in the story both a consequence and an ending commensurate with the enormity of Phoenix's actions.[14] In a 2012 public signing, Claremont spoke about the context of the late 1970s and the end of the Vietnam War during the story's writing, stating that the history of these events also made Jean Grey's genocidal actions difficult to redeem.[12]

In the original ending, Jean does not revert to Dark Phoenix, and the Shi'ar subject her to a "psychic lobotomy", permanently removing all her telepathic or telekinetic powers.[14] Claremont and Byrne planned to later have Magneto offer Jean the chance to restore her abilities, but Jean choosing to remain depowered and eliminate the threat of Dark Phoenix returning to power.[14]

Return to publication (1986)

The unfinished cover for X-Factor #1, before Bob Layton and Jackson Guice decided on the fifth female team member. (X-Factor, vol. 1 #1) Art by Jackson Guice.

After several years, Marvel decided to revive the character, but only after an editorial decree that the character be absolved of her actions during "The Dark Phoenix Saga".[16] Writer Kurt Busiek is credited with devising the plot to revive Jean Grey.[16] Busiek, a fan of the original five X-Men, was displeased with the character's death and formulated various storylines that would have met Shooter's rule and allowed the character to return to the X-Men franchise.[16] He eventually shared his storyline idea with fellow writer Roger Stern who mentioned it to Byrne, who was both writing and illustrating the Fantastic Four at the time.[16] Both series writer Bob Layton and artist Jackson Guice, who were developing the series X-Factor—a team of former X-Men—had yet to settle on their fifth team member, initially considering Dazzler.[17] Layton opted to fill the open spot with Jean instead, and both he and Byrne submitted the idea to Shooter, who approved it.[16] Jean Grey's revival became a crossover plotline between the Avengers under Stern, Fantastic Four under Byrne, and X-Factor under Layton.[16]

Jean Grey was reintroduced in Marvel Comics six years after the publication of "The Dark Phoenix Saga" in Avengers #263 (January 1986) and was revived in Fantastic Four #286 (January 1986), with the events of "The Dark Phoenix Saga" retconned. The new version of events was that rather than being Jean Grey reborn, Phoenix was actually an entirely separate entity posing as Jean. The new events state that while near-death in Uncanny X-Men #100, Jean made contact with a cosmic entity called the "Phoenix Force".[18] The Phoenix Force offered to save Jean's life and that of other X-Men and took on Jean's form.[18] Jean Grey imbued the copy with her essence, causing the Phoenix Force to believe that it truly was Jean Grey.[18] The Phoenix Force, now in the form of Jean Grey and calling itself "Phoenix", placed the dying Jean Grey's body in a healing cocoon, which sinks in the ocean during the events of Uncanny X-Men #101.[18] The duplicate continued on in the events from Uncanny X-Men #101, all the while believing itself to actually be Jean Grey up to its "death" at the conclusion of "The Dark Phoenix Saga".[18] Future issues would further explore the details of the interaction and connection between Jean and the Phoenix Force.[19][20] The real Jean Grey awoke from the cocoon when her injuries were healed (though without access to her telepathy) and with no recollection or involvement in the events that had occurred after meeting the Phoenix Force.[18]

Busiek later found out that his idea had been used thanks to Layton, and he was credited in Fantastic Four #286 and paid for his contributions.[16] The decision to revive Jean Grey was controversial among fans, with some appreciating the return of the character and others feeling it weakened the impact of the "Dark Phoenix Saga"'s ending.[16] Busiek maintained that the idea that led to Jean Grey's official return to Marvel Comics was merely a case of sharing his ideas with friends as a fan, and that he neither formally pitched the idea to anyone nor gave it the final go ahead.[16] Claremont expressed dissatisfaction with the retcon, stating in 2012: "We’d just gone to all the effort of saying, 'Jean is dead, get over it,' and they said, 'Haha, we fibbed.' So why should anyone trust us again? But that’s the difference between being the writer and being the boss."[12]

In the comics, having been fully established as separate from the "Jean Grey" copy created and taken over by the Phoenix Force, Jean is "absolved" of involvement in the atrocities of "The Dark Phoenix" storyline, and she returned in the first issue of X-Factor (1st Series) only to find that the other members of the original X-Men have retired.[21] Jean convinced the retired X-Men to found a new team, X-Factor, to respond to growing anti-mutant sentiment and reused the "Marvel Girl" codename.[21] The series also reunited Jean with Cyclops, who abandoned his wife, Madelyne Pryor—a woman who looked uncannily like Jean—and their infant son, Nathan Christopher, to run the X-Factor team.[21] Upon discovering that her former lover had established a family during her absence, Jean encouraged Cyclops to return to his wife and child.[22][23] However, finding their home abandoned, he believed Madelyne had left him and taken Nathan with her, prompting Scott to return to X-Factor and continue his relationship with Jean.[23]

The team's adventures continued throughout the series, culminating in the line-wide "Inferno" crossover. Madelyne resurfaced, now nearly insane and with powers awakened by a demonic pact, calling herself the Goblyn Queen.[24] During the crossover, the X-Men discovered that Madelyne was a clone of Jean created by Mister Sinister and brought to life by the Phoenix Force after the events of "The Dark Phoenix Saga". Sinister created her with the purpose of having a child with Scott Summers, because their genetics carried the potential to produce powerful mutant offspring. This drove her completely insane and she planned to sacrifice her son to achieve greater power and forge her own destiny.[25] Inferno reunited Jean with the X-Men, who were happy to learn that she was alive, particularly Wolverine, reminding Jean of her unaddressed feelings for him. At the conclusion of Inferno, Jean and Madelyne confronted each other, with Madelyne attempting to mind meld with Jean and kill them both. Jean only managed to survive by absorbing the remnants of the Phoenix Force housed within Madelyne, giving her both Madelyne's memories and the Phoenix's memories from "The Dark Phoenix Saga".[26]

Claremont later commented on how Jean's revival affected his original plans for Madelyne Pryor, stating that the relationship between the two women was intended to be entirely coincidental.[27] He intended Madelyne only to look like Jean by complete coincidence and exist as a means for Cyclops to move on with his life and be written out of the X-Men franchise, part of what he believed to be a natural progression for any member of the team.[27] Claremont expressed dismay that Jean's resurrection ultimately resulted in Cyclops abandoning his wife and child, tarnishing his written persona as a hero and "decent human being", and the "untenable situation" with Madelyne was dealt with by transforming her into a prolicidal demonic villain and killing her off.[27]

Soon after the beginning publication of X-Factor, Marvel also reprinted and released the original X-Men series under the title "Classic X-Men". These reissues paired the original stories with new vignettes, elaborating on plot points. One such issue, Classic X-Men #8 (April 1987), paired the original X-Men #100 (August 1976) story of Jean Grey's disastrous return flight from space immediately preceding her transformation into Phoenix ("Love Hath No X-Man...") with the new story "Phoenix". The story further supported the retcon establishing Jean Grey and the Phoenix Force as two separate entities. The vignette elaborated on the events between X-Men #100 and X-Men #101: facing certain death from radiation poisoning, Jean Grey cried out for help to save the lives of her fellow X-Men. Hearing her cry and sensing her intense passion for life and love for Scott and her friends, the Phoenix Force—the "sum and substance of life"—responded, offering to save her by bonding to her, coupling her humanity with its incredible power. Jean accepted and immediately found her consciousness in a duplicated body. She placed her former dying body, still containing a spark of her soul, in a healing cocoon. The duplicate, now calling itself Phoenix, proceeded to the events depicted in the original X-Men #101 (October 1976) story "Like A Phoenix, From The Ashes!" with the cocoon sinking to the bottom of Jamaica Bay to be discovered in Avengers #263.[19]

Return to the X-Men (1990s)

File:Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 334.jpg
Jean Grey on the cover of Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 #334.

Following the conclusion of Inferno, Jean continued to be a mainstay character throughout the rest of X-Factor, rejecting a marriage proposal from Scott and meeting her alternate future daughter Rachel Summers, whom she also rejected out of the feeling that they both suggest her life is predetermined.[28][29] She also regained her telepathy during a battle with the villain Psynapse.[30]

X-Factor (1st Series) ended its run featuring the original X-Men with X-Factor #70 (September 1991), with the characters transitioning over to Uncanny X-Men, explained in continuity as the two teams deciding to merge. The fourteen X-Men divide into two teams—"Blue" and "Gold"—led by Cyclops and Storm, respectively. Jean was added to the Gold Team beginning in Uncanny X-Men #281 (October, 1991).[31] During this time, she was no longer given a codename, but instead was referred to by her full name, Jean Grey. In Uncanny X-Men #308 (January 1994), Jean proposed to Scott and the two were married in X-Men #30. Jean had also, by this time, reconciled her initially hostile feelings toward Rachel and welcomed her into her life permanently. (March 1994).[32] Jean and Scott were immediately featured in the four-part miniseries The Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix, where the two were psychically transported 2,000 years into the future to raise Scott's son Nathan, who had been transported to the future as an infant in hope of curing him of a deadly virus. The series depicted the couple assuming the names Redd (Jean) and Slym (Cyclops) and raising Nathan Christopher for twelve years before being sent back into their bodies on their honeymoon. Before their return, Jean learned that Rachel had transported them to the future to protect Nathan, and following her request, adopted the codename "Phoenix" once again to establish it as a symbol of good after all the bad it had caused.[33]

Jean continued to appear as a mainstay character in both X-Men and Uncanny X-Men including franchise-wide crossovers like "The Phalanx Covenant" and the line-wide crossover Onslaught, which featured the manifestation of Charles Xavier's dark half. The crossover revisited long untouched issues between Xavier and Jean, including Xavier's secret love for Jean mentioned in the original X-Men comic series decades earlier.[34][35] Jean also met another alternate future child of hers and Scott's: the immensely powerful Nathan Grey, who accidentally revived the psionic ghost of Madelyne Pryor, leading to another confrontation between the two women.[36] While appearing in Uncanny X-Men and X-Men, Jean grew more comfortable with her immense psychic powers and began using the iconic green and gold Phoenix costume again.[37] She also quickly brought together a team of X-Men in the three-issue revival of the Astonishing X-Men title.[38]

New X-Men (2000s)

File:Cover of New X-Men Vol. 1 no. 128.jpg
Jean Grey on the cover of New X-Men Vol. 1 #128.

Following Cyclops' possession by the mutant villain Apocalypse and disappearance in the conclusion of the crossover storyline "Apocalypse: The Twelve,"[39][40] Jean lost her telekinetic abilities and was left with increased psychic powers, the result of the "six month gap" in plot across the X-Men franchise created by the Revolution revamp. During the Revolution event, all X-Men titles began six months after the events of Apocalypse: the Twelve, allowing writers to create fresh situations and stories and gradually fill in the missing events of the previous six months of continuity. Due to editing decisions following the success of the 2000 X-Men film, which depicted the character of Jean Grey with both telepathy and telekinesis, an explanation for Jean's altered powers in the comics was never explicitly made, though writer Chris Claremont revealed in interviews that it was intended to be an accidental power switch between fellow X-Man Psylocke, explaining Psylocke's new telekinetic powers as well.

Jean was next featured in the six-issue miniseries X-Men Forever written by Fabian Nicieza, which was designed to tie up remaining plot lines. During the series, Jean revisited many of the events involving the Phoenix Force and the series introduced the concept of "Omega level mutants", a category for mutants with unlimited potential, which included Jean herself.[41] Cable and Jean were the central characters in the 2001 miniseries X-Men: Search for Cyclops where the two believe Cyclops to be alive. The two tracked Cyclops down and Jean was able to psychically free him from Apocalypse's possession. The couple then returned as mainstay characters in X-Men (2nd Series) once again.[42]

In June 2001, X-Men was retitled as New X-Men under writer Grant Morrison. The title consisted of a smaller team featuring Jean, Cyclops, Beast, Wolverine, Emma Frost, and Charles Xavier. The overarching plot focused on the team assuming the roles of teachers to a new generation of mutants at the Xavier Institute while navigating their personal relationships and dealing with newly emerging pro- and anti-mutant political sentiments.[43] The series saw the return of Jean's telekinesis, her emerging ability to tap into the powers of the Phoenix Force once again, her assumption of the duties as headmistress of the Xavier Institute, and the failing of her marriage to Scott following his traumatic experience of being possessed by Apocalypse.[43] Jean and Wolverine addressed their long-unspoken mutual attraction, deciding it was best not to act on their feelings, while Scott began feeling further alienated from Jean and sought consolation from Emma Frost to address his disillusionment and his experiences while possessed by Apocalypse.[43] These interactions led to a "psychic affair" between Scott and Emma. Jean's discovery of the psychic affair resulted in a confrontation between Emma and her, though ultimately Jean realized that her marriage to Scott has run its course.[43] Jean also made minor appearances in other titles during the New X-Men run, such as Chris Claremont's X-Treme X-Men, occasionally lending support to the characters.[44]

New X-Men concluded with Jean fully realizing and assuming the powers of the Phoenix under her complete control. However, in the final chapters of New X-Men, she was killed in battle by Magneto,[43] though Marvel later retconned her killer's identity to that of an imposter.[45] The series also explored a dystopian future caused when Scott chooses not to run the Institute with Emma following Jean's death. This alternate future timeline, called "Here Comes Tomorrow", was the closing chapter of Grant Morrisson's run on New X-Men.[43] The story was eventually resolved by a resurrected Jean becoming the fully realized White Phoenix of the Crown, using the abilities of the Phoenix Force to reach back in time and influence Scott to accept Emma's offer to run the school together.[43] Scott and Jean's relationship ended with her death and he and Emma assumed the duties of co-headmaster and co-headmistress of the Xavier Institute under writer Chuck Austen's take over of New X-Men and its change over to X-Men under the editorial X-Men ReLoad decision.

Jean and her connection with the Phoenix Force was examined again one year after the conclusion of Morrison's run on New X-Men in X-Men: Phoenix – Endsong written by Greg Pak in 2005.[46] In it, a fragmented Phoenix Force attempts to resurrect Jean, resulting in a struggle between herself and the X-Men as she attempted to control the "Dark Phoenix" persona. The miniseries concluded with Jean resolving her relationship with Scott and moving on to a higher plane of existence with the Phoenix Force.[46] The Phoenix Force as its own entity continued to be explored in other later titles, such as X-Men: Phoenix – Warsong (2006) and Matt Fraction's run on Uncanny X-Men, with brief references to Jean.[47] At the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con X-Men panel, when asked whether or not Jean would return, editor Nick Lowe responded by saying, "She's dead."[48]

Return of the Phoenix Force and All-New X-Men (2010s)

Regarding Jean's actual return to the X-Men franchise, Marvel indicated that Jean's eventual return is being discussed but stated that the return of Jean Grey was "a story Marvel does not want to rush."[49] Marvel loosely tied questions regarding Jean Grey's eventual return to the events in 2007's X-Men: Messiah Complex in which a mutant girl named Hope—who has red hair, green eyes, and immense mutant powers—is born,[50] and 2010's X-Men: Second Coming which sees both Hope's return as a teenager and the return of the Phoenix Force.[51][52] In the 2012 line-wide crossover event Avengers vs. X-Men, Cyclops is possessed by the Phoenix Force and eventually becomes Dark Phoenix. On the brink of destroying the world, his mind reaches the White Hot Room where Jean Grey appears to him and convinces him to let go of the Phoenix Force.[53][54]

Following the conclusion of the event, as part of the Marvel NOW! event, a teenage Jean Grey and the four other founding members of X-Men are transported across time to the present day by Beast in the series All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis.[55][56] The time travel also caused her suppressed telepathic powers to awaken much earlier in her life than they were supposed to.[57] During the Battle of the Atom crossover, a future version of this Jean Grey, who had never returned to the past and whose powers had grown beyond her control, would return to the present as Xorn, a member of the future Brotherhood of Mutants.[58] Xorn perished during the battle, but in the process the X-Men also find out that there is something preventing the All-New X-Men from returning to the past.[59]

Young Jean is later kidnapped by the Shi'ar and placed on trial for the destruction done by the Phoenix Force years earlier in a 2014 crossover storyline Trial of Jean Grey. The All-New X-Men team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to rescue Jean from the Shi'ar homeworld, but Jean would end up awakening a new power that she never had, in which she is able to absorb massive amounts of psionic energy from others and combine her telepathy and telekinesis.[60]

Fictional character biography

Jean Grey was born the second daughter of John and Elaine Grey. She had an older sister, Sara Grey-Bailey. John Grey was a (fictional) professor at Bard College in upstate New York. Depictions of Jean's childhood and her relations with her family have shown a stable, loving family life growing up.

Jean's mutant powers of telepathy and telekinesis first manifest when her best friend is hit by a car and killed. Jean mentally links with her friend and nearly dies as well.[6] The event leaves her comatose, and she is brought back to consciousness when her parents seek the help of powerful mutant telepath, Charles Xavier.[32] Xavier blocks her telepathy until she is old enough to be able to control it, leaving her with access only to her telekinetic powers.[6][61] Xavier later recruits her as a teenager to be part of his X-Men team as "Marvel Girl", the team's sole female member.[62] After several missions with the X-Men, Xavier removes Jean's mental blocks and she is able to use and control her telepathic powers.[6] She begins a relationship with teammate Cyclops (Scott Summers), which persists as her main romantic relationship, though she also develops a mutual secret attraction to later addition to the team, Wolverine.[7]

During an emergency mission in space, the X-Men find their shuttle damaged. Jean pilots the shuttle back to Earth, but is exposed to fatal levels of radiation.[14] Dying, but determined to save Cyclops and her friends, Jean calls out for help and is answered by the cosmic entity, the Phoenix Force.[18] The Phoenix Force, the sum of all life in the universe,[20] is moved by Jean's dedication and love and takes the form of a duplicate body to house Jean's psyche.[18] In that instant, the Phoenix Force is overwhelmed and believes itself to be Jean Grey and places Jean's dying body in a healing cocoon.[19] The ship crashes in Jamaica Bay, with the other X-Men unharmed.[63] The Phoenix Force, as Jean Grey, emerges in a new green and gold costume and adopts the new codename "Phoenix", with immense cosmic powers.[9] Meanwhile, the cocoon containing the real Jean Grey sinks to the bottom of the bay, unnoticed. Phoenix continues her life as Jean Grey with the other X-Men, joining them on missions and saving the universe. During the "The Dark Phoenix Saga", Phoenix becomes overwhelmed and corrupted by her first taste of evil and transforms into a force of total destruction, called "Dark Phoenix", consuming a star, inadvertently killing the inhabitants of the star's planetary system, and jeopardizing the entire universe.[64] However, Jean's personality manages to take control and Phoenix commits suicide to ensure the universe's safety.[18][64]

Upon its suicide by way of a disintegration ray, the Phoenix Force disperses into its original form and a fragment locates the still-healing Jean at the bottom of Jamaica Bay.[25] In trying to bond with her, Jean senses its memories of death and destruction as Dark Phoenix and rejects it, causing it to bond with and animate a lifeless clone of Jean Grey created by the villain Mister Sinister.[25] Sinister created the clone to mate with Cyclops to create genetically superior mutants. Named "Madelyne Pryor", the unaware clone meets Cyclops in a situation engineered by Sinister and the two fall in love, marry, and have a child, Nathan Christopher Summers. Meanwhile, the cocoon is discovered and retrieved by the Avengers and the Fantastic Four.[18] Jean emerges with no memory of the actions of the Phoenix/Dark Phoenix.[18] The Avengers and Fantastic Four tell her of what happened and that she was believed dead until now.[18] She is reunited with the original X-Men, and convinces them to form the new superhero team X-Factor.[21] Jean learns that Cyclops has romantically moved on with Madelyne, who is angered over his decision to lead X-Factor and neglect his family.[21] Though Jean encourages Cyclops to return to Madelyne, he finds their house abandoned and assumes that Madelyne has left him and taken their infant son;[22] Cyclops returns to X-Factor and he and Jean continue their relationship.[23]

Madelyne eventually resurfaces with powers awakened by a demonic pact, calling herself the "Goblyn Queen".[24] Learning of her true identity and purpose as a clone drove her completely insane and she plans to sacrifice Nathan Christopher to achieve greater power and unleash Hell on Earth.[25] While attempting to stop her, Jean is reunited with the other X-Men, who are happy to learn that she is alive, particularly Wolverine, reminding Jean of her unaddressed feelings for him. Jean and Madelyne confront each other, and Madelyne attempts to kill them both. Jean manages to survive only by absorbing the remnant of the Phoenix Force housed within Madelyne, giving her both Madelyne's memories and the Phoenix's memories from "The Dark Phoenix Saga".[26]

While continuing on X-Factor, Cyclops proposes to Jean and she meets her alternate future daughter Rachel Summers (who goes by the codename "Phoenix" as well and is also able to tap into the Phoenix Force), but she rejects them both out of the feeling that they indicate that her life is predetermined.[28][29] When X-Factor unites with the X-Men, Jean joins the Gold Team, led by her best friend Storm.[31] During this time, she no longer uses a codename, instead being referred to by her civilian name. After some time, she makes up with Rachel, welcoming her into her life, and proposes to Cyclops and the two marry.[32][65] On their honeymoon, the couple is immediately psychically transported 2000 years into the future to raise Cyclops' son Nathan, who had been transported to the future as an infant in hopes of curing him of a deadly virus. Jean adopts the identity of "Redd" along with Cyclops (“Slym”) and they raise Nathan Christopher for twelve years before they are sent back into their bodies on their wedding honeymoon. Jean learns that a time-displaced Rachel had used her powers to transport them to the future to protect Nathan, and per Rachel’s request, Jean adopts the codename "Phoenix" once again to establish it as a symbol of good after all the bad it had caused.[33] Meanwhile, her psychic and telekinetic abilities begin to grow and she begins using the iconic green and gold Phoenix costume again.[37]

Following Cyclops' possession by the mutant villain Apocalypse and apparent death,[39][40] Jean continues with the X-Men, but is distraught by the loss of her husband. She later learns that she is an "Omega-level" mutant with unlimited potential.[41] Jean begins to suspect that Cyclops may still be alive and with the help of Nathan Christopher (now the aged superhero "Cable"), is able to locate and free Cyclops of his possession by Apocalypse.[42] The couple return to the X-Men as part of the Xavier Institute's teaching staff to a new generation of mutants.[43] While Jean finds she is slowly able to tap into the powers of the Phoenix Force once again, her marriage to Scott begins to fail.[43] Jean and Wolverine address their long-unspoken mutual attraction, deciding it is best not to act on their feelings; Cyclops grows further alienated from Jean due to her growing powers and institute responsibilities and seeks consolation from the telepathic Emma Frost to address his disillusionment and his experiences while possessed by Apocalypse.[43] These therapy sessions lead to a "psychic affair" between Scott and Emma. Jean's discovery of the psychic affair results in a confrontation between her and Emma, though ultimately Jean realizes that her marriage to Scott has run its course and that Emma truly loves him.[43]

In a final confrontation with a traitor at the institute (the X-Men's teammate Xorn, posing as Magneto) Jean fully realizes and assumes complete control of the powers of the Phoenix Force, but is killed in a last-ditch lethal attack by Xorn.[43] Jean dies, telling Scott "to live." However, after her funeral, Scott rejects Emma and her offer to run the school together. This creates a dystopian future where all life and natural evolution is under assault by the infectious, villainous, sentient bacteria "Sublime". Jean is resurrected in this future timeline and becomes the fully realized White Phoenix of the Crown, using the abilities of the Phoenix Force to defeat Sublime and eliminate the dystopic future by reaching back in time and influencing Cyclops to accept Emma's love and her offer to run the school together.[66] Jean then reconciles with Cyclops and fully bonds with the Phoenix Force and ascends to a higher plane of existence called the "White Hot Room".[46] Though she has yet to fully return, the Phoenix Force continues to manifest itself, particularly through the red-haired, green-eyed "mutant messiah" Hope Summers,[67] and Jean briefly appears in a vision to Emma Frost from the White Hot Room, telling the X-Men to "prepare."[68] She again appears in a vision to Cyclops when he is overwhelmed by the power of Dark Phoenix, helping him abandon the power so that it can pass on to its true host.[volume & issue needed]

In All-New X-Men, a younger version of Jean is relocated to the present day along with the other original X-Men,[69] and this version has experienced a surge in her abilities due to the trauma of being brought to the future.[volume & issue needed]. This version of Jean Grey is being trained in her psychic powers by Emma Frost.[70]

Powers and abilities

Jean Grey is an Omega-level mutant, and at her highest and strongest potential was bonded with the Phoenix Force.


When her powers first manifest, Jean was unable to cope with her telepathy, forcing Professor X to suppress her access to it altogether. Instead, he chose to train her in the use of her telekinesis while allowing her telepathy to grow at its natural rate before reintroducing it.[71] When the Professor hides to prepare for the Z'Nox, he reopens Jean's telepathic abilities, which was initially explained by writers as Xavier 'sharing' some of his telepathy with her.[72]

Jean's telepathy allows her to read, influence, control, and communicate with the minds of others, project her mind into the astral plane, and generate telepathic force blasts that can stun or even kill others. Jean is one of the few telepaths skilled enough to communicate with animals (animals with high intelligence, such as dolphins,[73] dogs,[74] and ravens[75]). She can also telepathically take away or control people's natural bodily functions and senses, such as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or even mutant powers. As a side effect of her telepathy, she has an eidetic memory.[76] Jean was able, through telepathic therapy with the comatose Jessica Jones, to grant Jessica immunity to the Purple Man's mind control abilities, despite his powers being chemical in nature rather than psychic.[77] When Jean absorbs Psylocke's specialized telepathic powers, her own telepathy is increased to the point that she can physically manifest her telepathy as a psionic firebird whose claws can inflict both physical and mental damage. Phoenix discovers that she can telepathically enhance the powers of other mutants.[volume & issue needed] She briefly develops a psychic shadow form like Psylocke's, with a gold Phoenix emblem over her eye instead of the Crimson Dawn mark possessed by Psylocke,[volume & issue needed] Jean briefly lost her telekinesis to Psylocke during this exchange, but her telekinetic abilities later came back in full at a far stronger level than before.[volume & issue needed]


Her telekinetic strength and skill are both of a supremely high power-level, capable of grasping objects in Earth orbit and manipulating hundreds of components in mid-air in complex patterns. She often uses her telekinesis to lift herself and others, giving her the ability of levitation and flight. She uses her telekinesis to create durable shields and energy blasts. She later manifests a "telekinetic sensitivity" (called "the Manifestation of the Phoenix"[43]) to objects in her immediate environment that lets her feel the texture and molecular patterns of objects, feel when other objects come into contact with them, and probe them at a molecular or subatomic level.

Phoenix Force

When transformed into Phoenix, Jean's powers escalate to a considerably higher level, allowing her to rearrange or disintegrate matter at a subatomic level, fly unaided through space, survive in any atmosphere, and manipulate electromagnetic and cosmic energies for various effects and atmospheric disturbances. She can create stargates that can transport her anywhere in the universe instantaneously. At this level, she is powerful enough to easily defeat a herald of Galactus.[78]

Jean, while acting as a Phoenix Force avatar, can create 'cosmic' flames, even in seemingly impossible situations such as the vacuum of space or underwater. Typically they manifest as a raptor or part of a raptor such as a claw or wings. Jean has perfect control over these flames, only consuming what she wills. These flames do not require oxygen to burn, and burn so intensely that matter is consumed without by-products such as ash. It is unclear whether these flames are an extension of her telekinesis and telepathy or a more general property of the Phoenix Force. The cosmic flames are a literal punctuation to the Phoenix's purpose to "burn away what doesn't work", as well as being described as "burning through lies" and deception.

As the Phoenix, Jean is able to resurrect after death. In some depictions, these resurrections are immediately after she is killed, while other depictions indicate that resurrection must occur at a "correct" time, sometimes taking a century. The Phoenix Force allows Jean to revive, absorb, rechannel, and preserve the life-force of any kind of life-form, meaning that she can take life energy from one person and give it to others, heal herself with the same life energy, or even resurrect the dead, since the Phoenix is the sum of all life and death.[20]

The relationship between Jean Grey and the Phoenix (and the nature of the powers she has) is portrayed in a variety of ways throughout the character's history. In the initial plotline of the Phoenix being a manifestation of Jean's true potential, these powers are considered her own,[20] as part of Claremont and Byrne's desire to create "the first cosmic superheroine."[14] However, since the retcon of the Phoenix as a separate entity from Jean Grey, depictions of these powers vary; these include Jean being one of many hosts to the Phoenix and "borrowing" its "Phoenix powers" during this time,[43][79] being a unique host to the Phoenix,[43] and being one with the Phoenix.[20][46] She is later described as one of the few to hold the title of "White Phoenix of the Crown" among the many past, present, and future hosts of the Phoenix.[66]


Jean Grey is a college graduate from Metro College with a select education in psychology.[volume & issue needed] Years later she finished her masters at Columbia University during her membership with the original X-Factor.[volume & issue needed]

Other versions

As a fictional character in the Marvel Universe, Jean Grey appears in various alternate plot lines and fictional universes.

In other media

Jean Grey appears in various media, such as animated programs, video games, films, and is sometimes referenced in pop culture.

See also


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External links