Jean Grey (2nd series) #2

Issue Date: 
September 2023
Story Title: 
Dead Reckoning

Louise Simonson (writer), Bernard Chang (artist), Marcelo Maiolo (colorist), VC’s Ariana Maher (letterer and production), Jay Bowen (design), Amy Reeder (cover artist), Ejikure; Peach Momoko; Walter Simonson & Laura Martin (alternate covers), Lindsay Coohick (assistant editor), Sarah Brunstead (editor), Jordan D. White (senior editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Jean Grey created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Jean Grey is still trying to figure out what she did wrong. Now she wonders if different actions could have prevented her contact with the Phoenix Force. What if in the space shuttle on the way back to Earth she had actually listened to Wolverine? She does so and Wolverine suggests he steer back the shuttle, protected by his healing factor while she will telepathically guide him from the saferoom. They do so and, during the journey, Jean creates a closer rapport with him than she has ever had with anyone else. She is overwhelmed by the horrors of his past. They crash in Jamaica Bay and Wolverine emerges taken over by the Phoenix force. Remembering his past, he flies off for vengeance. Professor X sends the team to Ireland but Jean refuses to go, wanting to go after Logan, and Cyclops joins her fearing that he is losing her to Wolverine. They enter the wilderness of Canada and find the underground Weapon X Project, where Wolverine has been busy killing both perpetrators and those who became victims of their work like him. Jean tries to talk him down, while Cyclops is concerned that he is a threat. Wolverine asks them to kill him and the Phoenix leaves him entering Cyclops instead. Jean tries to talk him down and Wolverine impales Cyclops, causing the Phoenix to return to him. He uses it kill himself. Jean realizes she didn’t go wrong when she accepted the Phoenix, but then where? Her thoughts turn to her clone Madelyne Pryor, the Goblin Queen…

Full Summary: 

Jean has decided that forgetting their adventures in the future was the right decision in her early years as an X-Man. She turns to a second pivotal moment in her life…

The X-Men were in a space shuttle facing a solar flare that would kill anyone unprotected. The autopilot was destroyed, meaning someone would have to steer the shuttle from the unprotected command center. Jean absorbed the necessary knowledge to pilot the shuttle from Dr. Corbeau’s mind, telepathically knocked out Cyclops who wanted to stop her and snapped at Wolverine when he challenged her decision.

She almost made it, but her telekinetic shields collapsed and with her last breath she cried for help.

The shuttle landed in Jamaica Bay, everyone survived and she emerged as Phoenix, though she wasn’t quite herself. None of them knew that she was possessed by a symbiotic power that was drawn to passion, and which would thrive in the darkest corners of her soul and revel in destruction…

Jena wonders what if instead of grabbing control, she would have chosen to listen.

She bucking for martyr of the year or something? Wolverine asks her roughly. Instead of verbally kicking his ass, Jean asks if he has a better idea. It turns out he might have. He explains he has a healing factor, so he is likely to survive the radiation. She has the knowledge and can direct him telepathically from the shielded cabin. Gruffly, she admits it is a good idea.

Jean and Wolverine stay in rapport and the flight begins. When the radiation hits, they realize they may not survive. Scott confesses his love to her, and Jean realizes he thinks they won’t make it. Wolverine interrupts the tender moment, as they are losing oxygen. Jean assists him. When the shuttle is about to break, she uses her telekinesis to strengthen it.

As their rapport deepens, she learns more about Wolverine, such as his name Logan. She learns about aspects of his past. He used to have bone claws. She wonders how old he is when she learns that he fought in WW I and II. However, much of his memory is lost for some reason.

His healing factor is about to give up. She won’t let that happen and she adds her strength to his. As she does so, his mental blocks shatter and they learn about Logan being experimented on at the Weapon X facility. Jean cries in horror, realizing he came to the X-Men for a haven, even if he didn’t know, and he trusted her enough to let her into his mind. She prays for God to help him.

The shuttle crashes in Jamaica Bay and the X-Men swim up. Suddenly screaming, Wolverine rises violently from the water. He seems to be burning and bone-spikes grow from several points of his body, while he rants that they though he couldn’t hear them… that he’d become just an animal… but he understood every word! He is Phoenix, risen from the ashes of his past, and he will make them pay!

Surrounded by Phoenix fire, he flies away, leaving the X-Men to wonder what just happened. Jean isn’t sure. She is locked out of his mind now. All she knows is some power has healed him, changed him and, somehow, he’s moved beyond himself. He’s going after the people who tried to turn him into a mindless monster. And he’s going to destroy them!

Later, the X-Men are gathered around Professor X back in the mansion. He is satisfied that they managed to slip away from the crash undetected. So far, their involvement in the incident isn’t suspected. To keep up that illusion, they are going to Ireland to Cassidy Keep, where Banshee grew up. Sean happily welcomes them. Jean tries to protest, but Xavier asks if she doesn’t think they deserve a vacation?

Privately with Scott, she complains about Xavier. No word about Wolverine? They saw him rise from the water, burned, scorched, nearly a corpse. And then he got better and those spikes grew and he flew. Since when can he fly?

Scott plays devil’s advocate and assumes Xavier knows more than them. He probably had reasons. Then he should share them! she snaps. She’s going to Canada after Logan! Why? he asks. To stop him or help him if she can? She doesn’t know. She’s just going. Scott states he will accompany her.

Jean thinks to herself she has always loved Scott and wondered at the passion hidden beneath his self-discipline.

The two of them slip away (and somehow manage to get new uniforms) and soon are making their way through the snowy, Canadian landscape, leading to the Weapon X complex. Scott fears it is a wild goose chase, but Jean assures him she senses Logan. She asks why he came. He replies that Wolverine went mad and he won’t let Jean face that alone.

Jean muses she never liked Wolverine or wondered what lay behind his insufferable attitude. But now she saw the horror of his past and knows how he feels about… a lot of things…

She wonders why she is so snappish toward Scott and keeps thinking of Logan.

They find the first bodies. Scott accuses her that, even seeing the carnage, she loves Wolverine! Not the way he means, she replies, but she knows him. The people here put the adamantium in him and tried to turn him into a killing machine. She explains they are tied to American dark ops, to Trask with his Sentinels, and other anti-mutant fascists… to hate groups around the world.

She telekinetically lowers them into the underground complex.

When Logan escaped, he killed the leader, but that didn’t stop them. She thinks that Professor X knew about this, maybe that’s why he recruited Logan. Maybe he had a plan, but it all went sideways when Logan transformed…

She is shocked when she sees vats with remnants of living beings in them. She explains he was tortured in a vat like this. They must be trying to build an anti-mutant army…

They find Wolverine being shot at and instantly healing thanks to his heightened powers. One of the men stammers: what is he? Retribution! Wolverine snarls, destruction and death! His burning spikes move like a barrage felling the snipers.

Jean tells Soctt they must help him. They dispatch of some snipers but Cyclops protests, this slaughter has to stop. Can’t she reach him? He is in some kind of berserker rage, Jean replies. His mind is shielded from her and she cannot telekinetically move him. He doesn’t even know they are here. He urges her to keep trying.

Wolverine rants that they are all monsters. The makers and the made – they must all die! Jean appeals to him shouting this must end. This will end when they are all dead! he cries. Fiery energy spikes launch from his body targeting combatants, shattering the tubes that house the growing anti- mutant army. Everybody dies, except the three of them.

Then Wolverine realizes who is here and the spikes drop as he realizes he could have killed them too. He didn’t know, Jean tries to console him. He tells her she doesn’t understand. He wanted them dead, and this fire in him made that happen. He couldn’t stop it, even if he wanted to. Only he is himself now and he is damaged at his core. He can still feel it inside. He can’t be trusted. It is in charge now. He asks them to kill him while they still can.

Jean refuses but Scott announces Wolverine is right and fires his optic blast at Wolverine.

Its fire rejected, the Phoenix leaves Wolverine, looking for another host, someone more passionate and hungry. It enters Cyclops. The energy shatters his visor and he covers his eyes. Jean tells him to look at her. Panicked, he tells her she’d die. Jean doesn’t believe that. He has such self-discipline. He doesn’t know how strong he is. She tells him to try to fight it.

He floats before her and warns he cannot do it for long. It is not a being of logic. It thrives on feelings, on his for her… it needs… it loves… it wants… He begs her not to let it use him and asks her to kill him. She refuses and kisses him.

Wolverine figures he is right and impales Scott from behind. When Scott dies, the Phoenix Force moves back to Wolverine. In front of a horrified Jean, he uses it to kill himself.

Jean has seen enough. Wolverine seemed the logical choice, she murmurs. He could survive the radiation but he couldn’t survive the Phoenix. Not him, not even her distant, passionate Scott. In her reality, she steered the shuttle and let the Phoenix have her. Things didn’t go wrong there, but if not there, then where? She begins to think of her clone Madelyne Pryor, the Goblin Queen…

Characters Involved: 

Jean Grey

In the new timeline:
Jean Grey
Banshee, Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Dr. Corbeau

Truett Hudson and other Weapon X personnel

Goblin Queen

Story Notes: 

The story is based on X-Men (1st series) #100-101.

The Weapon X Project was introduced in Marvel Comics Present (1st series) #72-86.

Written By: