X-Men Origins: Jean Grey #1
Writer: Sean McKeever
Art: Mike Mayhew
This long-dormant inventory tale (written before McKeever went to DC many, many months ago) finally sees release. The question is, “Why now?” Actually, the question is, “Why at all?” This book is yet another take on the early days of the X-Men, particularly Jean Grey. In a world crowded with X-books, some of which already deal with the early days of the X-Men from yet another angle, this one just seems like egregious overkill.
Off the top, I’d guess that it’s the art that gets it out the door. Mayhew’s work is tremendous here. His young Jean actually looks like a young girl, and his astral plane landscapes are truly nice. It’s solid, pretty stuff from top to bottom.
As for the story, McKeever does almost nothing new with the characters. Nearly everything here is stuff that you’ve been able to piece together from flashbacks and back-ups for the past twenty or so years. Charlie helped Jean as a young girl? Check. Jean’s friend Annie died in a car accident, awakening Jean’s powers? Check. Jean likes Scott? Check, check, checkity-check. The only new wrinkle is a scene where Jean wanders off by herself and punks out on an early skirmish with Magneto. She has an incident of her own that is apparently supposed to, in saccharine Aaron Spelling family-drama fashion, exorcise the ghost of Annie. Instead, it just felt flat, uninspired, and made Jean look bad for ditching the team.
Frankly, I’m pretty tired of the “let’s take another look at young [Insert Marvel Character or Team] here” books. The First Class titles are the exceptions that prove the rule; with them, why go to this particular well at all? If you wanted the world to see this series, why not bite the bullet and put it online as a true test of Marvel’s DCU initiative? That would be a way to burn-off inventory without wasting reader patience or goodwill. As pretty as this thing is, I expect a fair amount of people to be annoyed by reading what is essentially another retread of some pretty worn ground.