Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey #1
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by R.B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto and Rain Beredo
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10
Mutantkind’s most famous ginger gets some intense multiversal therapy in the gorgeous but lightweight Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey #1. Cullen Bunn uses the stage of Generations to insert Teen Jean into a pivotal moment of her own history (despite a seeming continuity conflict), right before the villainous Mastermind hijacks her adult counterpart’s mind and her limitless power as the Phoenix. While Bunn finds an interesting dynamic with the two Jeans, most of the development here is cosmetic hamstrung by the isolated nature of this being a one-shot.
But while the plot’s soup is a bit thin, what artists R.B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto, and Rain Beredo serve up is much more substantial. Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey #1 is capital-G Gorgeous and takes readers on a lavishly colored journey from the beach to the depths of space, holding fast your attention throughout with all sorts of dazzling displays from the cover artist and his talented co-contributors. While the Generations one-shots haven't exactly blown the doors of the joint as of yet, Phoenix & Jean Grey at least tries to make up for its slightness with plenty of flash and fire.
“This journey is a gift!” proclaims the boisterous caption on the credit page of this one-shot, but to young Jean Grey, getting teleported against your will to another reality isn’t exactly high on her birthday list this year. Cullen Bunn, who has been impressing with his wry, world-weary take on young Jean in her solo title, really tries to make the most of this sudden departure. There are some really great moments to be found in this story.
For example, casting young Jean as the cynical one and older Jean as the “carefree” gallivanting powerhouse is a really novel take. Bunn even takes it a step further by allowing young Jean to know exactly what's on the horizon for the Phoenix based on where she has landed in her own timeline. This choice adds a layer of tragedy to the whole proceeding because after all, what is the story of Jean Grey without tragedy? This all culminates in a splashy sequence in deep space that pits Team Jean against the dread Galactus that functions more like a scene of interpersonal discovery than a superhero throwdown.
But while this dynamic and set piece is an interesting one, the limits of a one-shot can only extend so far and, just as it really starts, it is over. You get what you pay for when it comes to one-shots and this one is no different. That said, this is especially disappointing since the “breakthrough” Bunn takes young Jean through is a major one for her and one I would love to see bleed into the pages of her own title. But something tells me, I will be waiting a while still to see the threads introduced here to be picked up again, if even at all. We know these are all a prelude to a bigger incoming event of sorts, but we also know how quickly heartfelt characters get lost in the shuffle of big stories.
Though the script never quite flourishes like it should, the artwork blossoms beautifully throughout this one-shot. Penciler R.B. Silva, inker Adriano Di Benedetto, and colorist Rain Beredo really pull out all the stops here, starting with an almost quaint setting of a crowded beach and then rapidly expanding their scope to include a strange alien world hanging in the inky expanse of space.
Silva, who makes a strong sartorial case for bringing back the Marvel Swimsuit Special with his design of Phoenix's fierce swimwear this issue, brings the same eye for composition and emoting that make his covers so eye catching to the interior of Generations, aided by the strong inks of Di Benedetto and the roiling colors of Beredo. The scenes in space are clearly the standout bits of this issue with their epic scale, flaming displays of power, and intense emotions at play throughout, but as a whole this issue is arguably the best looking one-shot of the bunch so far. Had it been gifted with a few extra pages, it could have been truly something, but R.B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto, and Rain Beredo make the most of their time with the Jeans, much to the issue’s benefit.
The life of Jean Grey is a complex one, and Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey #1 doesn’t do much to make it simpler. But what it does do is attempt to give Jean a bit more control over her tumultuous past and future. If it actually does remains to be seen, but at least it is a beautiful jaunt toward a deeper understanding of one of Marvel’s prominent female heroes. As Walt Disney once said, “whatever you do, do it with style,” and Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey #1 certainly does what it does with plenty of classic X-flair.