Jean Grey is getting her own ongoing solo series, a first for the fan-favorite X-Man. As fans know, though, this Jean Grey is a very different character than the Jean of later years.
The new ongoing is helmed by writer Dennis Hopeless, and he will be exploring the differing approaches to some of Jean's career hallmarks, which of course does include the Phoenix. In a recent interview with Newsarama, Hopeless detailed the overall theme of the series.
“It’s a sort of trials of Hercules story. Jean gets a premonition of sorts. She’s told the Phoenix is back in play and that the Earth is doomed unless Jean Grey can step up. Unfortunately, the Jean Grey we have is a wildly unprepared teenager. Our Jean needs to level up in a hurry. She needs to step into those huge shoes and become the full grown badass we all know she will eventually. So… she straps in and heads out to get some life experience.”
Hopeless is familiar with Jean from working on X-Men: Season One, and has long wanted to work on the character again. When he got the gig, Hopeless didn't waste any time refamiliarizing himself with the character.
“I didn’t realize how much I missed her. Jean was the protagonist of my first paid work in X-Men: Season One and she’s the character I fell in love with on that project. When people tell me they love that book, I know it’s because of Jean (and Jamie McKelvie). So for Jean Grey, I re-read a bunch of my favorite Jean Grey stories and all of the more recent stuff to make sure I still had her voice… But once I started scripting, she came back pretty quick. I like Jean’s brain. It’s fun to be back in there.”
“The first thing I reread was Brian Michael Bendis’s All-New X-Men run… I’m obviously pretty familiar with it, but Teen Jean was born there and I want to make sure I have her,” Hopeless continued. “I love the Scott/Jean/Emma triangle from Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men. I pulled that back out. Then a ton of Classic Claremont issues. I don’t clean my office very often so I was actually able to pull out my X-Men: Season One Jean notes (from five years ago) which helped a lot. I’ll keep reading stuff as we go to make sure we’re not leaving any cool on table.”
While hopeless will be implementing big themes from Jean's future, he's not exactly sure how yet. “I have a post-it note on my laptop with this growing Phoenix list: Quentin Quire? Hope Summers? Rachel? Phoenix Five?” Hopeless said. “I’m not 100% sure who we’ll use or how exactly, but that’s definitely part of the plan.”
While those beloved aspects of the character will most likely make it into the book in some form or fashion, Hopeless just wants to tell a fun story that pelp;e can relate to. That's especially important to a character like Jean Grey, who can easily appear aloof and distant if in the wrong hands.
“Two words: Sales juggernaut,” Hopeless said. “No, I just want us to tell a fun, human story that taps into Jean’s brain and reminds the world how amazing she is. The beauty of solo books is that you really get to dig into a single character. There’s so much more space for character work. Team books are about juggling and plate spinning. Solos are about focus. If we do our job, fans will know and love Jean. That’s what I want.”
Jean Grey #1 debuts in spring of 2017.