A Recommended Reading List - Jean Grey

Updated: Jan 30, 2020

an Grey is undoubtedly one of Marvel Comics' most prolific characters of all time. She also happens to be my personal favorite Marvel Comics character.

Now, it is no secret that the X-Men have an incredibly rich comic book history. As a result, all the convoluted timelines, ever-evolving rosters, and consistent plethora of titles can confuse anyone who is trying to keep up with the X-Men and their adventures.

So, once again, I thought I would lend a helping hand.

Here is a list of a few solid stories focused on Jean Grey and her adventures with the X-Men that any comic book newcomer can enjoy.

Jean Grey
X-Men Origins: Jean Grey by Sean McKeever and Mike Mayhew

X-Men Origins: Jean Grey (2008)

If you have heard of Jean Grey, chances are you have also heard of the Phoenix. Consequently, Jean Grey is often recognized by her complex relationship with the Phoenix force, by which she became the Dark Phoenix for a period of time.

Now, though there are plenty of fantastic Phoenix-focused stories, I think it is worthwhile to go back to the very beginning of Jean Grey's story.

What's it about?

X-Men Origins: Jean Grey, from Sean McKeever and Mike Mayhew, revisits Jean Grey's childhood and, thus, the birth of her mutant abilities. Now, it is worth noting that there are not that many comics that traverse Jean Grey's early days. As a result, this particular comic provides fascinating, albeit heartbreaking, insight into Jean's journey into becoming a member of the X-Men.

What makes it great?

X-Men Origins: Jean Grey does a fantastic job in showcasing the hardships Jean endured in coming to terms with her abilities. Though I'm sure most people would love to have telekinetic or telepathic abilities, this story showcases the potential repercussions those great powers could provoke.

The work also provides an engaging vignette of the relationship between Jean Grey and Professor X. Through this vignette, the narrative challenges our perception of Jean's abilities, and whether or not they should be checked.

So, overall, X-Men Origins: Jean Grey is a satisfying read that serves as a fantastic starting point for any Jean Grey-newcomer as it will get one acquainted with the girl who would go on to become an iconic superhero.

Jean Grey
The Dark Phoenix Saga (1980)

The Dark Phoenix Saga (1980)

As aforementioned, if you have heard of Jean Grey, then you are probably familiar with the concept of the Phoenix. The Dark Phoenix Saga, from Chris Claremont and John Byrne, is one of the most notable and pivotal X-Men comics of all time.

What's it about?

After a run-in with a solar flare, Jean Grey's powers reach their peak and exceed beyond it. Consequently, Jean takes on the identity of Phoenix. However, she comes to realize that she cannot assume the totality of her powers as she would be unable to control them.

Though, it is not long before more conflict arises. After a handful of mind games with the supervillain known as Mastermind, Jean evolves into the Dark Phoenix, upon which she turns against her fellow X-Men.

Soon enough, Dark Phoenix begins plaguing the cosmos, upon which various communities across the galaxy unite and assert the Dark Phoenix as a threat that must be reckoned with.

What makes it great?

The Dark Phoenix Saga is an intergalactic, cosmic epic. It broadens the scope of the X-Men and challenges the idea of redemption when it comes to fallen heroes. It also challenges the perception of humanity as it applies to individuals who possess abilities far beyond the comprehension of humans themselves.

Sure, aspects of this particular tale may be dated. Despite this though, the comic comprises an incredibly nuanced story. One can perceive Jean as a tragic hero or a heartless supervillain as a result of Claremont's complex characterization of Jean and her complicated relationship with the Phoenix force.

Ultimately, The Dark Phoenix Saga is an essential Jean Grey story that has cemented itself in comic book history as an iconic, unforgettable event.

Jean Grey
Bizarre Adventures #27 (1981)

Bizarre Adventures #27 (1981)

One of the most common tropes in comic books is the concept of death and resurrection. There have been a multitude of heroes who have met their fate only to be reborn sometime later. So, this may be a spoiler for anyone who has not familiarized themselves with the story of Jean Grey, but Jean Grey has died a handful of times throughout her comic book history.

Yet, despite the number of times she has died, each death has had a resounding impact upon those who cared for her.

What's it about?

Bizarre Adventures #27 comprises a series of one-shot tales focused on a few X-Men characters. One of these characters happens to be Jean Grey.

Thus, the story commences with Sara Grey visiting her sister, Jean's, grave. As she speaks to her sister, Sara ponders her perception of mutantkind. She contemplates how her own son is reaching the age upon which the mutant gene will manifest itself. Thus, Sara expresses fear that her son could potentially face the same fate as Jean if he is to develop mutant abilities.

What makes it great?

Bizarre Adventures #27 is one of my favorite Jean Grey stories. Despite it being a one-shot, the comic packs a poignant punch as it provides a perspective of Jean's death through the lens of an individual we may not have considered to explore before.

Ultimately, Bizarre Adventures #27 provides a solid palette cleanser to The Dark Phoenix Saga as it narrows the scope Dark Phoenix Saga so beautifully expanded by reminding us of Jean's humanity and inclination to act as a superhero in light of her stint as Dark Phoenix.

Jean Grey
New X-Men #128 (2001).

New X-Men #114 - 126 (2001)

Writer Grant Morrison's run on the X-Men is often cited as one of the best runs on the team in the modern age.

Despite this, I was initially hesitant to include his run on this list because it is a complex one that does not exactly slow its pace.

Additionally, the run provides a deep dive into the X-Men mythos itself. So, for a reader who is trying to get acquainted with Jean Grey or the X-Men in general, this particular series may be a lot.

However, I eventually decided to include it because it comprises some definitive and incredible comics that one should definitely read if they do want to better acquaint themselves with the X-Men as a whole and with Jean Grey in a completely different mode.

What's it about?

Morrison's run depicts the X-Men taking on brand new, catastrophic threats while also establishing new developments within the X-Men mythos, such as the introduction of secondary mutations.

The series is particularly noted for its introduction of the one and only Cassandra Nova, who proves herself to be one of the X-Men's deadliest and most despicable villains they have ever faced.

What makes it great?

New X-Men #114-126 and its subsequent issues maintain a great focus on Jean Grey herself as she navigates personal and external conflicts in a tonally different setting.

Ultimately, Morrison's run is significantly darker than any other series mentioned on this list.

Thus, readers can take on the opportunity to understand Jean in a completely different context. As aforementioned, the events of New X-Men may be overwhelming, particularly when reading via a Jean Grey focus as the character continuously finds herself managing a multitude of serious conflicts that impact, not only the X-Men, but her personal life and dark history with the Phoenix.

However, this run is a definitive one in that it provides a raw portrayal of how difficult the reality of the X-Men can truly be.

So, if you're ready, do not hesitate to read this run.

Jean Grey
X-Men: Red (2018).

X-Men: Red (2018)

Jean Grey's death in the events of New X-Men lasted for over a decade, which is actually a significant amount of time for a comic book character to stay dead.

So, it should come as no surprise that the return of the character was met with great excitement amongst comic book fans.

Following her return in writer Matthew Rosenberg's Phoenix: Resurrection, Jean Grey made her more official return in writer Tom Taylor's X-Men: Red.

What's it about?

X-Men: Red traverses Jean Grey's reintegration into the world she left behind years prior. With this, she leads her own team of X-Men including Nightcrawler, Honey Badger, and Namor. Unsurprisingly, Jean faces a variety of challenges in her new role. Firstly, she continuously finds herself challenged by her revival into a world in which mutants and humans are still struggling to coexist.

Additionally, Cassandra Nova has made her return and is more ruthless than ever, posing a threat to not only Jean but, once again, to all of mutantkind.

What makes it great?

X-Men: Red was arguably the best X-Men title running at the time of its production. It presents a nuanced story that reminds us how captivating, and terrible, of a villain Cassandra Nova is. Now, despite the atrocities Nova commits throughout this run, X-Men: Red maintains a focus on driving hope through dark times.

Taylor often drives this theme through Jean's character, as the reality of hate that persists between humans and mutants does not detract her from believing that coexistence is possible.

Now, Jean Grey's role as a leader is undoubtedly one of my favorite aspects of this series. After being gone for so long, it was refreshing to see Jean get the spotlight she deserves. The role also provides readers with an opportunity to see Jean as they have never seen her before.

Thus, X-Men: Red is a cohesive X-Men story that operates as a positive, comeback tale for Jean Grey, who proves that she still has what it takes to be a definitive member, and leader, of the X-Men after her lengthy absence.

The Beginning

The X-Men arguably maintain the most complex history throughout comic books. In the production of this list, I had to cut a multitude of titles in order to maintain its simplicity.

With that being said, each of the works on this list are solid and excellent in their own way. Most are distinct and digestible for a newcomer to X-Men comics, while others may be a tad more immersive and complex.

Overall though, consider this a starting off point, and stay tuned for the next iteration of recommended reading.