by Patrick Ehlers
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
There’s a whole corner of the Marvel Universe devoted to mutants with psychic abilities. It is a niche corner, seemingly invisible to the rest of the heroes, particular those without the X-gene, until the point one of them threatens to upend everything. Usually, this has to do with their connection to the Phoenix force, which is simultaneously the source of their most terrifying power and their most humbling weakness. It’s complicated, it’s abstract, it’s supernatural and extraterrestrial at the same time. In short, it’s not easy to understand. In Jean Grey 9, writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Victor Ibáñez illustrate just how much special knowledge is required to deal with Young Jean Grey and that ominous Phoenix.
The issue starts off with Emma and Ghost Jean seeking help from medical professionals. EMTs and doctors usually fit the bill where “experts” are concerned, especially when it comes to matters of health. It quickly becomes clear that these guys don’t know what they’re doing. Jean’s skin melts an oxygen mask, and her body heat engulfs a gurney in flames that cannot be quenched by two dudes with fire extinguishers. It’s wave after wave of failing solutions. Exactly at the moment Emma decides there is no help for them in this world, Ibáñez and Hopeless cut to… a different kind of solution.
The environmental storytelling here is incredible. This appears to be a regular afternoon for Hope Summers — cleaning one enormous weapon, while several other future-guns liter her apartment. Some are leaned against a weapon case, implying some kind of order, but there’s also one back there in the kitchen. Speaking of the kitchen — it looks like Hope ordered a pizza and hasn’t disposed of the box yet. It paints a picture of someone whose priorities are so far outside the norm. But that’s good! Hopeless has trained us to be wary of the wrong kind of experts. Doctors and nurses don’t know what they’re doing: maybe militant mutant psychics do?
The answer, of course, is something of a mixed bag. Hopeless pulls in most of the players he and Ibáñez have been using throughout this series to try to quiet the demons of Young Jean Grey. It’s an exercise in showcasing all of their powers and expertise, and they all get show-stoppingly cool moments, including Quinten Quire wielding his psychic revolver.
It’s striking, frankly frightening, imagery. And while none of the telepathic mutant experts actually solve the problem — Phoenix appears in its full glory on the final page — it finally feels like we have assembled a crew that can actually do something about it.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?