Lovefool 09.29.14 | Rediscovering Jean Grey

Lovefool lets her sister join in on the fun with a special guest column covering the ups and downs of her relationship with the X-Men’s resident redhead.



I grew up in a small town in Kentucky, and there were all of two decently-adjusted children that were my age and shared my interests—which, at the time, amounted to the Power Rangers, Gargoyles, Barbies, terrorizing my older sister whom I shared a bedroom with (our very own Lovefool), and stuffed animals. Thankfully, not much has changed—aside from sharing a bedroom with Lovefool. I’m sure we could manage, but I’m not too sure about the Misters.
The room I shared with my sister very suddenly became mine and the time I would spend playing with her toys, clinging to her and her friends, and being an annoying sibling, was now empty.
Fox aired X-Men exactly five minutes after I got off of the bus, assuming that I ran down the hill from the bus stop and didn’t trip over my feet. Tripping added minutes and meant I would be late. Nothing made me happier once school was over than opening our screen door and hearing that theme song, and watching the Blackbird fly over the X-Men fighting the Sentinels and closing on them clashing with the Brotherhood.
My mother’s favorite X-Men were Beast and Storm, but this wouldn’t shock you if you knew my mother. For the beginning of the series, I couldn’t quite decide who I loved more: Rogue had a southern accent, Jubilee shot sparklers, Gambit had a southern accent and threw playing cards at people, and Cyclops was perfectly dreamy.
To be honest, I didn’t even notice Jean Grey, but that’s what is so amazing and wonderful and awesome about Jean. Jean has been there from the creation of X-Men, being both mental and physical eye-candy. Jean was forgiving and understanding, she was fierce and loyal, she was who I pretended to be. Most importantly, for me, Jean was the role model that an overachieving, socially awkward, dorky girl in kindergarten and then first grade needed. Jean has gorgeous, thick red hair that should be the envy of everyone in all of the comic book world because she can roll out of bed and it is perfect. Scott may have been the command-barking leader, but Jean was their emotional glue, and that’s what her sacrifice in that space shuttle so cry-worthy.
Jean was willing to die—and would continue to die, again and again—for the X-Men.
I will never forget the first time that I saw the Phoenix rise out of the water, with the cry of, “I am fire! And life incarnate! Now and forever—I am Phoenix!”
It was Jean, but it was so much better than Jean could have ever hoped to achieve on her own—a cosmic force saw her sacrifice and chose to preserve her (there’s this theory that the Phoenix was always in her, but whatever). The Phoenix Force was Jean at her best and Jean at her worst—it was me getting student of the month for the first half of my second grade year and it was me contemplating dropping out of high school when I was sixteen.
Jean and I have hit high and low notes together. She’s the only woman in my life that has always been there. She understood having a mentor who told me what I would never be able to accomplish, she understood my cheating boyfriends, she understood being in love with someone who was terrible for me, and I finally understood her when I got to the point where I was okay being alone.
My relationship with Jean hasn’t always been the best. I walked out of the theatre before the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. Famke Janssen was amazing as Jean Grey, but the direction that they took the Phoenix was stupid and hurt my fangirl hopes. Jean would never kill Xavier, not even in her most power-crazed rampages in which she extinguishes civilizations. Scott would, but that’s because Scott couldn’t handle the fraction of the Phoenix Force he hosted during Avengers vs. X-Men. Just another reason Jean is better than everyone else: she is one woman containing all of that eternal, cosmic power.

After X-Men 3, I stepped away from Jean Grey. I was angry. How dare they take the most powerful mutant (arguably, of course) and turn her into a quiet, demure thing that became the threat of the Brotherhood? I wasn’t a feminist yet, but that pissed me off. I loved Endsong and Warsong, and X-Men 3 was just too much for my seventeen year old self. I swore off X-Men after that, for a while.
Recently, I was having an animated discussion with my Mister about the new Batgirl. (Our household is the envy of our local comic book store. He’s a DC fan and I’m a Marvel fan, he’s a Jedi and I’m a Sith, and it works nicely.) As I wandered down the aisle, I pulled out the first trade for Batgirl (if you haven’t read it, get to it—Gail Simone is amazing) and asked the sales guy to point me in the direction of where to start with the X-Men. He put The Trial of Jean Grey in my hands and the first trade for All-New X-Men along with it.
I had a complicated relationship with Jean Grey until I started reading All-New X-Men.
The past Jean Grey living in a world where Jean Grey had been melted by Magneto, attending The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning is the Jean Grey who reminded me that I could be anything. The Trial of Jean Grey has the Shi’ar kidnapping the young Jean Grey because she is alive and is now able to be held accountable for her actions. It was a wonderful, albeit out of order, introduction to the new Jean Grey.
I love this Jean Grey. She will not fit in your prison cell, and she will not be prosecuted for a crime she has yet to commit.
However, she will adorably kiss a human Hank McCoy and then levitate herself for the first time over the teenage anger she has in response to Hank questioning why she ran off with Cyclops after kissing him.
It’s a good time to be a Jean Grey fan. | Catherine

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