This week’s Phoenix Resurrection #1 set the stage for the return of the original Jean Grey – and sows the seeds for a deeper mystery afoot as well. With writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Leinil Yu diving deep into X-Men lore for this issue, there’s a lot to unpack and to decode.
Spoilers ahead for Phoenix Resurrection #1.
When Phoenix Resurrection #1 kicks off, two children see a young girl laying bloodied on the ground. When they approach for help, the bloody girl disappears, and a young red-headed girl takes her place. The red-headed girl speaks backwards and displays other psychic phenomena, leaving the children unconscious and levitating off the ground. A few hours later, the X-Men arrive to investigate the situation, saying that Cerebro detected mutant activity. Rachel Summers experiences psychic backlash that puts her in the hospital.
There are a few things to note in this scene which connect it to Jean Grey’s history. First, the scene takes place in Annandale-On-Hudson, the town where Jean’s father was a college professor when she was a child (Rachel refers to this briefly in dialogue). And, of course, the scene with the two mysterious girls resembles the moment when Jean’s powers manifested, after her friend Annie was killed in a car accident.
Gathering the various X-teams together to investigate the incident – and several other seemingly related anomalies around the globe – Kitty Pryde breaks them into three squads. The first, comprised almost entirely of X-Men from the “Dark Phoenix Saga” era, heads to the old Hellfire Club base in Manhattan where Mastermind worked to subvert Jean Grey in that story. The second, made up of members of the various X-Force black-ops squads, heads to the North Pole, and the final, made up primarily of Rogue and the four remaining time-displaced original X-Men, travels to Mont St. Francis monastery, which was once briefly used by Magneto’s Acolytes.
As the teams split up, they encounter various strange phenomena at their destinations. At the old Hellfire Club, the team fights seemingly unending hordes of Hellfire Club troops - which Jubilee says aren't human - until Colossus breaks down the wall.
At the monastery, a twice-dead Acolyte named Seamus Mellencamp fights the team with Rogue taking him on singlehandedly before he disappears.
At the North Pole, a similar battle takes place with the recently dead Wolverine in his classic costume – though all the enemies seem more like apparitions than actual physical presences.
As the fights end, a vision of a blazing phoenix appears in the sky – and a young, red-headed waitress named Jean looks up at the phoenix before returning to work at a place called "Annie's Diner," to serve coffee to a man – resembling the deceased Banshee – who she calls “Mr. Cassidy.” We follow her home from work, where she’s greeted at the door by a man she calls “Scott,” who looks exactly like the older, recently dead Cyclops, who is there to take him on a date.
The story continues in Phoenix Resurrection #2, due out on shelves January 3.