The Phoenix Force (and the original Jean Grey) are returning in January for the Phoenix Resurrection, and that's set off alarm bells for the younger time-tossed Jean Grey inside her self-titled ongoing.
As the ominous presence approaches, the red-headed original X-Man is looking for help from onne of the most surprising people: her long-time adversary (on several levels) Emma Frost.
Newsarama spoke with series writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Victor Ibanez about this week's Jean Grey #8, and what's coming in future months leading to Phoenix Resurrection.
Newsarama: Dennis, we now know the older Jean grey is returning from the dead. Knowing that lies ahead, what does this confrontation with the Phoenix mean for your Jean?
Dennis Hopeless: Jean wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn the Phoenix is coming. She’s been trying to tell people that for months now.
The endless cycle of death and resurrection that plagues adult Jean is the very thing our teenage Jean has wrestling. Becoming a Phoenix host is her worst nightmare. She wants no part of it, which is exactly why she’s been traveling the Marvel Universe learning from the best and formulating a battle plan. If that firebird wants Jean, it’s going to have to defeat her first.
Nrama: As you inferred, you’ve been foretelling the Phoenix’s arrival since this title started. Is young Jean ready to meet this head-on?
Hopeless: She’s certainly more prepared than she was at the start. Jean spent our first arc learning from and training with various heroes. She’s building an arsenal of weapons and tactics. As of Jean Grey #6, Jean has also picked up a ghostly travel companion. The spirit of Adult Jean Grey seems to have returned to guide her younger through these trials.
All of that said, no one is every truly ready to face the Phoenix. There’s a whole lot of fire on the horizon.
Nrama: You’re also putting Jean in Emma Frost’s crosshairs. To say Emma might feel she has unfinished business with Jean is an understatement. How’s this going to go?
Hopeless: Emma Frost becomes a big player in our second arc. Readers saw the opening salvo of the Jean/Emma confrontation at the end of Jean Grey #7. There’s obviously plenty of bad blood there, but this is much more than a rekindled grudge match. Ghost Jean has specific plans for Emma and like most everything else in the book, it’s a Phoenix thing.
Fans of the Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely New X-Men run will have a lot of fun with issue #8. We’re digging into that era with both hands.
Nrama: Emma’s been a wielder of the Phoenix before. With Emma potentially mentoring Jean here, what’s that mean for the young Jean’s relationship with her older self when she comes back - if they have one at all?
Hopeless: Jean and her older self don’t get along terribly well to begin with. Imagine trying to prepare a teenage version of yourself for war. Training Teen Jean is epically frustrating for Ghost Jean and she’s not about holding her tongue. Not with the Phoenix coming. Now add Emma Frost to the mix and you have a really tumultuous animosity triangle. Loads of arguing to come.
Nrama: Down the road, the solicitation for this week’s Jean Grey #8 says Jean is trapped in Emma’s mind. Is this the psychic throwdown of the century it looks like?
Hopeless: Issue #8 is sort of the inception of Emma Frost. The two Jeans are working together to infiltrate the deepest darkest corners of Emma’s mind. She has a crucial Phoenix puzzle piece hidden in her memories and the Jean’s go in to dig it up. It’s a mindscape smash and grab inside the head of one of Marvel’s most powerful telepaths. The White Queen never goes down without a fight, so yeah, things get ugly. We had the most fun with this story and Victor’s art is absolutely stunning.
Nrama: Let’s bring in Victor here, who is illustrating these upcoming issues.
Victor, when it comes to Marvel Comics, there aren’t many more iconic pairings than Jean Grey and the Phoenix Force. How do you approach that as an artist? What sources are you drawing on for your version of the Phoenix?
Victor Ibanez: Well , the only way I can approach to this is with a lot of respect. But also with a childish Joy. Besides Storm, Jean Grey, and Phoenix has ever been amongst my favorite Marvel characters.
Nrama: Without being too spoiler-y, what’s your favorite moment of this Phoenix story so far?
Hopeless: Jean and Hope meeting in issue #2 was a blast. Two of my favorite X-Men to write sharing a scene together. That’s a dream come true. Hope shows back up in the second arc and I’m loving it all over again.
Ibanez: Well, in this story it’s the Phoenix Force which feels like the shark in Jaws. But mostly of my favorite moments on the book are Emma Frost-related
Nrama: Victor, when it comes to Marvel Comics, there aren’t many more iconic pairings than Jean Grey and the Phoenix Force. How do you approach that as an artist?
Ibanez: When I think of the Phoenix Force iconography my mind jumps straight to Paul Smith take on the character. Elegant and super solid art treatment. Maybe cause my style follows his naturalistic line art.
Nrama: Last question is for you, Dennis: what does “Legacy” mean for Jean Grey?
Hopeless: Jean’s worst nightmares are coming. Ghost Jean went from whispering in her ear to screaming in her face, but the message is clear. The Phoenix is cresting the hill. Time is running short. Put up or burn up.