Jean Grey - Publication History - Return To Publication (1986)

Return To Publication (1986)

After several years, Marvel decided to revive the character, but only after an editorial decree that the character be absolved of her actions during "The Dark Phoenix Saga". Writer Kurt Busiek is credited with devising the plot to revive Jean Grey. Busiek, a fan of the original five X-Men, was displeased with the character's death and formulated various storylines that would have met Shooter's rule and allowed the character to return to the X-Men franchise. He eventually shared his storyline idea with fellow writer Roger Stern who mentioned it to Byrne, who was both writing and illustrating the Fantastic Four at the time. Both series writer Bob Layton and artist Jackson Guice, who were developing the series X-Factor—a team of former X-Men—had yet to settle on their fifth team member, initially considering Dazzler. Layton opted to fill the open spot with Jean instead, and both he and Byrne submitted the idea to Shooter, who approved it. Jean Grey's revival became a crossover plotline between the Avengers under Stern, Fantastic Four under Byrne, and X-Factor under Layton.

Jean Grey was reintroduced in Marvel Comics six years after the publication of "The Dark Phoenix Saga" in Avengers #263 (January 1986) and was revived in Fantastic Four #286 (January 1986), with the events of "The Dark Phoenix Saga" retconned. The new version of events was that rather than being Jean Grey reborn, Phoenix was actually an entirely separate entity posing as Jean. The new events state that while near-death in Uncanny X-Men #100, Jean made contact with a cosmic entity called the "Phoenix Force". The Phoenix Force offered to save Jean's life and that of other X-Men and took on Jean's form. Jean Grey imbued the copy with her essence, causing the Phoenix Force to believe that it truly was Jean Grey. The Phoenix Force, now in the form of Jean Grey and calling itself "Phoenix", placed the dying Jean Grey's body in a healing cocoon, which sinks in the ocean during the events of Uncanny X-Men 101. The duplicate continued on in the events from Uncanny X-Men #101, all the while believing itself to actually be Jean Grey up to its "death" at the conclusion of "The Dark Phoenix Saga". Future issues would further explore the details of the interaction and connection between Jean and the Phoenix Force. The real Jean Grey awoke from the cocoon when her injuries were healed (though without access to her telepathy) and with no recollection or involvement in the events that had occurred after meeting the Phoenix Force.

Busiek later found out that his idea had been used thanks to Layton, and he was credited in Fantastic Four #286 and paid for his contributions. The decision to revive Jean Grey was controversial among fans, with some appreciating the return of the character and others feeling it weakened the impact of the "Dark Phoenix Saga"'s ending. Busiek maintained that the idea that led to Jean Grey's official return to Marvel Comics was merely a case of sharing his ideas with friends as a fan, and that he neither formally pitched the idea to anyone nor gave it the final go ahead. Claremont expressed dissatisfaction with the retcon, stating in 2012: "We’d just gone to all the effort of saying, 'Jean is dead, get over it,' and they said, 'Haha, we fibbed.' So why should anyone trust us again? But that’s the difference between being the writer and being the boss."

In the comics, having been fully established as separate from the "Jean Grey" copy created and taken over by the Phoenix Force, Jean is "absolved" of involvement in the atrocities of "The Dark Phoenix" storyline, and she returned in the first issue of X-Factor (1st Series) only to find that the other members of the original X-Men have retired. Jean convinced the retired X-Men to found a new team, X-Factor, to respond to growing anti-mutant sentiment and reused the "Marvel Girl" codename. The series also reunited Jean with Cyclops, who abandoned his wife, Madelyne Pryor—a woman who looked uncannily like Jean—and their infant son, Nathan Christopher, to run the X-Factor team. Upon discovering that her former lover had established a family during her absence, Jean encouraged Cyclops to return to his wife and child. However, finding their home abandoned, he believed Madelyne had left him and taken Nathan with her, prompting Scott to return to X-Factor and continue his relationship with Jean.

The team's adventures continued throughout the series, culminating in the line-wide Inferno crossover. Madelyne resurfaced, now nearly insane and with powers awakened by a demonic pact, calling herself the Goblyn Queen. During the crossover, the X-Men discovered that Madelyne was a clone of Jean created by Mister Sinister and brought to life by the Phoenix Force after the events of "The Dark Phoenix Saga". Sinister created her with the purpose of having a child with Scott Summers, because their genetics carried the potential to produce powerful mutant offspring. This drove her completely insane and she planned to sacrifice her son to achieve greater power and forge her own destiny. Inferno reunited Jean with the X-Men, who were happy to learn that she was alive, particularly Wolverine, reminding Jean of her unaddressed feelings for him. At the conclusion of Inferno, Jean and Madelyne confronted each other, with Madelyne attempting to mind meld with Jean and kill them both. Jean only manageed to survive by absorbing the remnants of the Phoenix Force housed within Madelyne, giving her both Madelyne's memories and the Phoenix's memories from "The Dark Phoenix Saga".

Claremont later commented on how Jean's revival affected his original plans for Madelyne Pryor, stating that the relationship between the two women was intended to be entirely coincidental. He intended Madelyne only to look like Jean by complete coincidence and exist as a means for Cyclops to move on with his life and be written out of the X-Men franchise, part of what he believed to be a natural progression for any member of the team. Claremont expressed dismay that Jean's resurrection ultimately resulted in Cyclops abandoning his wife and child, tarnishing his written persona as a hero and "decent human being", and the "untenable situation" with Madelyne was dealt with by transforming her into a prolicidal demonic villain and killing her off.

Soon after the beginning publication of X-Factor, Marvel also reprinted and released the original X-Men series under the title "Classic X-Men". These reissues paired the original stories with new vignettes, elaborating on plot points. One such issue, Classic X-Men #8 (April 1987), paired the original X-Men #100 (August 1976) story of Jean Grey's disastrous return flight from space immediately preceding her transformation into Phoenix ("Love Hath No X-Man...") with the new story "Phoenix". The story further supported the retcon establishing Jean Grey and the Phoenix Force as two separate entities. The vignette elaborated on the events between X-Men #100 and X-Men #101: facing certain death from radiation poisoning, Jean Grey cried out for help to save the lives of her fellow X-Men. Hearing her cry and sensing her intense passion for life and love for Scott and her friends, the Phoenix Force—the "sum and substance of life"—responded, offering to save her by bonding to her, coupling her humanity with its incredible power. Jean accepted and immediately found her consciousness in a duplicated body. She placed her former dying body, still containing a spark of her soul, in a healing cocoon. The duplicate, now calling itself Phoenix, proceeded to the events depicted in the original X-Men #101 (October 1976) story "Like A Phoenix, From The Ashes!" with the cocoon sinking to the bottom of Jamaica Bay to be discovered in '"Avengers #263.

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