Sunday, September 18, 2005

Favorite Female Characters #3: Jean Grey

Jean Grey
Originally uploaded by Heidi Meeley.
Arguably the most powerful X-Men team member prior to her untimely demise, Jean Grey has been through the proverbial comic book ringer. She has died more then once, and though it seems that now it is for good, her power of the comeback cannot be underestimated.

Jean Grey has gone by Marvel Girl, Phoenix, and her own name, but each persona is backed by the heart of a hero. Her long suffering husband Scott Summers and the complexity of their relationship has made them the couple everyone roots for while knowing that it can't possibly last. Scott is currently in love with Emma Frost since Jean's death. Who knows where this will go? The most certain thing in X-Men lore is uncertainty.

Jean was a charter member of the X-Men. As the only female, Jean was on a pedestal in her teammates eyes. To this day she has a close relationship with the original members. Jean has also had a relationship with Charles Xavier, her mentor, that has raised eyebrows. Is it unrequited love? We may never know, and that is what makes it so intriguing.

As Phoenix, Jean could consume planets and entire systems. Her fight to remain true to heroism caused her first death back in Uncanny X-Men #137. When she was resurrected, it was said that the Phoenix had taken on her form rather then using her own. This, of course, led to X-Factor #1 and a whole mess of jumbled continuity.

I have been fascinated with Jean Grey since I first read The Essential X-Men #1. She is the most interesting character to me in the mutant genre. She is at times passionate but at other times completely untouchable and pure. Her red-headed temper is unbridled and adds an unpredictability. Jean is the type of character that endlessly changes.

Jean is a strong female character, and her relationships have been marred by her duties as a mutant. She is an optimist, and a fighter. I love that her power comes from within and that her telepathy and telekinesis are so strong that she has been able to be a secret weapon of sorts.

Jean's relationships with other women set an example as well. Maternal but whimsical, Jean and Ororo AKA Storm have one of the longest standing friendships in comics. I have also enjoyed watching Jean work with the next generation of mutants, and lead by example. Jean was a mother figure to Jubilee when she needed it most, but also had a knockdown-dragout with Psylocke when she thought she was after her man.

It is the complexities and the vulnerabilities that complete Jean as a character and make her one of my favorites. I have been slowly getting used to the idea of her being dead again, but know that we will see her again.

Recommended Reading: Essential X-Men Vol. 1, X-Factor #1-69, Uncanny X-Men: too many issues to count!, and New X-Men #114-154.

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