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Nov 17

Jean Grey #4 annotations

Posted on Friday, November 17, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

JEAN GREY vol 2 #4
“Ashes to Ashes”
Writer: Louise Simonson
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colour artist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Design: Jay Bowen
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

COVER / PAGE 1. Assorted Jean Greys squabble over who gets to touch the Phoenix Force.

PAGE 2. Jean is surrounded by other Jean Greys.

This is where we left off last issue. Leaving aside the two Jeans who are shown only in silhouette, the other Jeans on page 2, from left to right, are:

  • Jean in her costume from the 2018 X-Men Red series.
  • Jean in X-Men #100, just before she becomes Phoenix.
  • Dark Phoenix.
  • The Goblin Queen.
  • Late 1960s Marvel Girl
  • Time-travelling “Silver Age” Jean Grey from All-New X-Men.
  • Jean Grey from the Morrison/Quitely New X-Men.

“Because everyone’s dead!” “Not quite… Not everyone. Hope–” Jean is starting to recall that the mutants were being slaughtered by Orchis immediately before her death in X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023. She knows that Hope survived because she saw her briefly last issue, in events shown in more detail in Immortal X-Men #16.

PAGES 3-4. The other Jeans explain the high concept.

Obviously, all of the other Jeans are fragments from her memories (though Goblin Queen makes a point of reminding us that she’s a clone and therefore not entirely “real” to start with). The Phoenix then pops up to assure us that, nonetheless, all of this is real in a sense within the White Hot Room.

PAGE 5. Silver Age Jean Grey yells at Jean.

“I saw a dozen realities and my gut said – forget them all!” I’m assuming that’s the radio-edit sense of “forget”. Anyway, this is the version of time-travelling Silver Age Jean who we saw in issue #1, where the alternate reality element was for the X-Men to keep their memories of the future on returning to the past. There’s a suggestion that these are scenarios that actually played out in some sense within the White Hot Room.

I’m not quite sure what younger Jean means when she says that she saw a “dozen realities” before returning home – it might refer to her own visit to the White Hot Room in Jean Grey vol 1 #11, but that would be a very obscure reference.

PAGES 6-7. Phoenix yells at Jean.

Like the Silver Age version, Phoenix’s basic point is that Jean made the best available choices first time round, which is why all of her alternate realities were worse.

PAGE 8. Recap and credits.

PAGES 9-11. Pre-Phoenix Jean.

Again, this is Jean in the dress she was wearing in X-Men #100 (after Wolverine cut it off at the knee). We get a recap of issue #2 and another explanation of why Jean made the right calls in the first place and should stop second-guessing herself. It’s an attempt to exonerate her of the worst consequences of the Phoenix by showing that she couldn’t have made any better choices.

The D’Bari were the race whose planet was wiped out by Dark Phoenix in X-Men #135. The retcon by which Phoenix wasn’t strictly Jean Grey was always intended to exonerate Jean of moral responsibility for that – while keeping the emotional weight of the story by having Phoenix still be Jean in a sense. “Unfortunate” might be thought a slight understatement for planetary-scale genocide.

“They found your true body cocooned beneath the sea and awakened you.” In Avengers #263 and Fantastic Four #286.

PAGES 12-14. Madelyne Pryor.

Madelyne appears first in her wedding dress from when she married Scott Summers in Uncanny X-Men #175, then as the techno-organic version of the Goblin Queen which appeared in issue #3’s alternate version of Inferno.

After pointing out that Jean’s attempt to alter Inferno was, again, not an improvement, Madelyne returns to her origin story as explained in Uncanny X-Men #241 and suggests another possible departure point. Per that story (and the remainder of Inferno), after Dark Phoenix died on the moon, Phoenix tried to return its portion of Jean’s soul to her, but Jean rejected it because of the awful things it had done. So Phoenix used it to animate Madelyne Pryor instead. Madelyne points out that Jean could have simply accepted the Phoenix’s offer the first time round (and then, oddly, throws in a reference to the alternate timeline from issue #2). And this time, Jean gets the point quickly enough that this wouldn’t have been a better outcome either, at least in the sense that Madelyne would never existed and, by extension, Cable wouldn’t have existed either.

PAGES 15-16. Jean remembers the Hellfire Gala.

A basically straight recap of Jean’s death in X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023 as her mind clears.

PAGES 17-18. The Phoenix itself talks to Jean directly.

The Phoenix spells out rather directly that it has been steering Jean to self-acceptance by demonstrating to her that different choices would have led to worse outcomes, and that the bad things that happened in her life were ultimately beyond her control.

PAGES 19-22. Jean sees Exodus and Hope fighting “Apocalypse.”

This is a continuation of the scene from Immortal X-Men #16, though we know in that book that this isn’t the real Apocalypse, but something that forms part of the desert/exodus scenario in which most of the Krakoans are trapped. However, since the Phoenix itself is perched on Jean’s arm here, this Apocalypse presumably isn’t himself the Phoenix.

The Immortal #16 scene simply ends with Hope reading Jean’s mind and asking what the White Hot Room is, so this is a continuation. Jean apparently makes some of Phoenix’s power available to Hope via Hope’s power-copying ability. Presumably, we’ll see more of this in Immortal X-Men #17 next week.)

The Kaballah. Exodus apparently does know what the White Hot Room is, and draws a parallel with “Tiphareth, from the Kabbalah.” This refers back to X-Men #108 (1977), where Phoenix stops the M’Kraan Crystal from destroying the universe; the accompanying narration refers too the kabbalistic Tree of Life and says that “the heart of the tree, the catalyst that binds these wayward souls together, is Phoenix. Tiphareth. Child of the sun, child of life, the vision of the harmony of things.” As best as I understand this stuff, Tiphareth has general associations of glory, harmony, compassion and so forth.

“No longer am I the woman you knew…” Jean ends the series by calling back to her line from when she debuted as Phoenix in X-Men #101, the suggestion apparently being that she’s come to terms with her choices in life and her connection to the Phoenix, though with a rather more equivocal identification of herself with the Phoenix.

PAGE 23. Trailers. This is the final issue of the miniseries, so we’re directed to next week’s Immortal X-Men #17. The Krakoan reads FOLLOW THE FALL.

Bring on the comments

  1. Michael says:

    I’m not sure I buy that Exodus knows about the Kaballah. Yes, the first major Kabbalistic text, Sefer Habahir, was published in Provence in 1174 and Exodus was a Frenchman who was put in suspended animation during the Third Crusade, from 1189-1192, so in theory there was a window for him to have learned about it. But the majority of French Jews during that period probably didn’t know about, much less French Gentiles. Remember, this was pre- printing press Europe.
    Jean allowing Hope to copy the Phoenix Force might be a mistake. Remember. in the last issue of Immortal X-Men, Hope thanked Mother Righteous and Mother Righteous can control anyone who thanked her.
    I don’t think this needed a four-issue miniseries. We didn’t need to see the details of each alternate reality to get the basic idea- Jean tries an alternate scenario, things get worse. This could easily have been a one-shot.(Although at least Simonson addressed why Jean didn’t think to accept the Phoenix force before Maddie got it, as Tim C asked last time/) Even a lot of space in this issue could have been cut, since all that happens is basically Jean realizes she made the right choices and enables Hope to access the Phoenix Force.

  2. Thom H. says:

    It seems appropriate that Jean’s miniseries reviews her big storylines (Dark Phoenix, love triangle, Inferno), then reviews them again in miniature before handing the action over to someone else. Kind of a neat encapsulation of where the character stands today, echoing her own history over and over again.

  3. GN says:

    Regarding Tiphareth, Al Ewing has been matching some preexisting Marvel Universe concepts to the kabbalistic Tree of Life in his cosmic books (mainly Defenders) for the past few years. Though he almost certainly got the Phoenix-Tiphareth connection from Claremont’s X-Men.

    Kether – The House of Ideas – Home of the One-Above-All
    Da’at – The Land of Couldn’t-Be-Shouldn’t-Be – Home of the Never Queen
    Tiphareth – The White Hot Room – Home of the Phoenix Collective
    Yesod – The Beyond – Home of the Beyonders
    Malkuth – The Neutral Zone

    Nahemoth – ?
    Gamaliel – The Un-Beyond – Home of the Kings in Black
    Tagimron – ?
    Belial – ?
    Thaumiel – The Below-Place – Home of the One-Below-All

    I suspect Morrison’s Black Bug Room concept will be matched to Tagimron in a future book. It makes too much sense to not not do it.

  4. Asteele says:

    It’s too late now, but wouldn’t it really of been easier to retcon her into not killing the Planet, but zapping it into the future or an alternate dimension or something.

  5. GN says:

    When Defenders Beyond came out a year or so ago, Ewing said some portions of it might be relevant to the overarching HOX/POX story in X-Men. I guess we’re starting to see that here with the White Hot Room stuff.

    DB also introduced us to a new and unusual Dominion, a cosmic outsider that haunted all of reality, which I believe is the Essex Dominion we saw in Sins of Sinister. This Dominion was said to be “not a sword, cup, coin or staff… or any other suits” but of the crown, which is probably a clue towards the identity of the Essex Dominion.

  6. Michael says:

    @Asteele- The problem is the art shows the planet bursting into flames and Jean tells Scott she destroyed the planet- there really wasn’t much wiggle room.

  7. GN says:

    Michael > I’m not sure I buy that Exodus knows about the Kaballah.

    I feel like Exodus has been around in the present day long enough to have read Aleister Crowley, which is where the modern Sefirot-Qliphoth occult stuff comes from. Though Exodus probably has his own mutant interpretation of the text.

    But besides that, this is the Marvel Universe where mystical concepts are real, tangible things instead of just fictional ideas written in books. For someone to understand what Thor is in the Marvel world, you don’t need to read the Eddas, you simply have to look up and see Thor flying around. Similarly, Bennet doesn’t have to have read the Kabbalistic texts to understand the Sefirot, he could have gained understanding of the White Hot Room when he saw a Phoenix manifestation at the beginning of his journey (IXM 5).

  8. Alexx Kay says:

    It occurs to me that having fragments of Jean’s mind tell her, at great length, that she has always made the best possible decision and been totally justified, is… certainly in character for her. Not what I’d call reliable narration, though.

  9. Luis Dantas says:

    Not really seeing the point of this series.

    Regarding Exodus and the Kaballah, even in Marvel Time it has been years since we first met him in modern times. Surely he had plenty of time and motivation to learn at least the basics.

  10. Chris V says:

    I can’t see Exodus reading Crowley. Isn’t he a zealot who would disdain Crowley for sinfulness? Surely, he wouldn’t accept Crowley as a mutant.
    I have heard that Exodus is a huge fan of Madonna. He attends all her concerts. He thinks she’s a mutant. He probably got involved with the Kabbalah Centre to try to impress her.

  11. wwk5d says:

    For the most part, the writing and art were good. But it still doesn’t answer the question of “But, why?” that Realm of X has yet to answer as well…

  12. DaibhidC says:

    @GN: Sure, but you can’t really equate the Thor you see flying around to the one in Norse mythology unless you actually know some Norse mythology. Similarly, Exodus might know what the White Hot Room is, but I feel like he can’t say it’s Tiphareth unless he also knows what Tiphareth is.

    But yes, I do think that in the time he’s been in the present, he’s probably read all kinds of stuff as part of his messianic view of mutantdom.

  13. Evilgus says:

    Jean self justifying herself? Well, quite! 🙂

    Could also read it is the Phoenix inveigling itself back into Jean at her moment of weakness

    I think it’s been a fun little ride, worth the mini series.

    And not Greg Land art either!

  14. Chris says:

    Is Malkuth the Negative Zone?

  15. Chris V says:

    Malkuth is the realm of action or the world of matter.

  16. Luis Dantas says:


    According to the Defenders: Beyond series of a few months back, no. Malkuth is associated instead to a “Neutral Zone” which is a boundary between the Multiverse and regions beyond (the Megaverse?)

  17. Chris V says:

    Isn’t the megaverse synonymous with omniverse? If so, what is outside the Neutral Zone would be above the omniverse. After the Neutral Zone is the Mystery, which is beyond space and time. For example, Tiphareth-White Hot Room would be beyond the outside.

  18. Luis Dantas says:

    Yeah, I think that I jumped the gun in my earlier guess about the Megaverse.

  19. Mike Loughlin says:

    Exodus is a super-powerful telepath, right? He could gain any knowledge at any time.

  20. […] GREY #4. (Annotations here.) Some of the Fall of X minis are already ending, others are on their penultimate issue. That was […]

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