Phoenix Resurrection has delivered on what its purpose has been does far. Jean Grey’s return to the X-Men is not going to quickly but does not feel like it is being drawn out. Matthew Rosenberg has shown that he has a strong understanding of the current X-Men continuity. Though that understanding has led to a few missteps that can’t be avoided when it comes to the X-Men as its continuity does get in the way of Phoenix Resurrection from getting to the next level. With that said we have two issues left to see how Phoenix Resurrection can re-energize the X-Men franchise that is in desperate need of becoming. Let’s see how things go with Phoenix Resurrection #4.
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Jean Grey wakes up in a burnt up house. As she walks to work the scenery behind Jean looks to catch fire but goes to normal when she turns around to talk to her various neighbors.
Outside the bubble in New Mexico the X-Men try to figure out what they should do. They decide to enter through the door that has opened up.
After making it through the door the X-Men find themselves in the middle of a burnt up town with bodies burned around them.
As they try to figure out what to do Cyclops, Angel and other previously dead X-Men appear and start fighting them. Though overwhelmed the X-Men are able to make it through their dead comrades. They end up in the one place in town that is not burnt down, the diner Jean works at.
Jean walks outside to throw out the garbage and does not even notice the X-Men are there in front of her.
When she walks back in Jean talks Annie about how slow business is today. Jean brings up that she recently had a dream where she was some sort of goddess.
Outside the diner Beast figures out that after having several failed hosts the Phoenix brought Jean back and is preparing her to be her host again without being rejected like it has in the past when trying to merge together.
Inside the diner Annie tells Jean that her dreams is possibly trying to prepare her for something great but Jean isn’t sure she is ready.
Back outside the X-Men figure out that all of the deceased X-Men they fought were most likely Jean’s way of calling for help. Just then the Phoenix suddenly perches itself on top of the diner ready to strike the X-Men down.
Kitty suddenly realizes that the reason Phoenix let them in is because it was scared the X-Men would destroy the egg like container it placed Jean in before they merged. She then says that a direct fight with the X-Men is what the Phoenix actually wanted to push Jean to the edge and make her the perfect host. She then suggests one of them go in to try to talk to Jean.
Young Cyclops says he’ll go in but is stopped by Old Man Logan. Logan says that the Jean inside the diner is not the same one young Cyclops loved but he did. Logan then says he will be the one to go inside.
Cyclops takes a step back. Logan assures Kitty he knows what he needs to do and starts walking into the diner. End of issue.
The Good: Matthew Rosenberg finally brings all the players of this event together and sets up the final endgame for Phoenix Resurrection. But much like the rest of this event, Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey #4 relies to heavily on X-Men continuity that it is hard to care about things if you haven’t been keeping up. And even with the big emotional moments take place they don’t hit in the way Rosenberg was hoping they would.
The one thing I will give Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey #4 is how Rosenberg is able to get us inside Jean Grey’s head. The struggle Jean is going through has made it easy to connect with how confused she has been. Showing us that the burnt up town was something that the Phoenix was actually blocking from Jean’s vision added to how the powerful force is manipulating her.
The Bad: Where Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey #4 fell flat the most was everything surrounding the title character. While Jean’s journey back to the X-Men gains some interest the involvement of the gathered X-Men is tame at best. Everything that the X-Men do felt as though they were stuck in neutral. Even when Rosenberg has the X-Men involved in a big action scenes there was nothing that made it feel important. Instead, the action sequence came off as just a reason to meet the quota for super powers being used in a superhero comic.
That is a very unfortunate fact since the X-Men were fighting their deceased teammates and villain. Even though you would expect this to hold deep emotional meaning to some of the X-Men there was absolutely zero depth to the fight. Instead Rosenberg could’ve easily replaced the deceased X-Men with any random person and it would’ve meant the same thing: a distraction for the X-Men.
This also speaks to the fact that Rosenberg did not spend any time in Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey to give emotional resonance to the deceased X-Men. Each of the characters that returned were treated as one off appearances to get fans to pop for their return. Cyclops is a good example of this as we see the character at the end of an issue in this series and never see him again. Even though his “return” was briefly brought up Rosenberg treated it like such a side story that Cyclops “return” was never brought up or seen making his appearance mean nothing.
The lack of emotional weight for the X-Men side of the story made the final decision to have Old Man Logan fall just as flat as the other plot points in the story. While it was meant to show that Logan still loves Jean it just looks odd that we are seeing the Old Man version be given this role. This version of the character has shown to have moved on from his love from Jean. So his argument to young Cyclops about the Jean inside not being “his Jean” also goes for him. So because of that this moment that was supposed to be deep came off as Rosenberg inserting his fandom for the Wolverine/Jean Grey shipping over the Cyclops/Jean Grey shipping.
The artwork for Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey #4 was average at best. There were several spots in this issue where Ramon Rosanas lacked any sort of detail. That is specifically seen in the panel were Jean and Annie are talking while the X-Men stand outside in the background. It was such a flat looking scene that it took you out of the story. That was just one example of the art taking away rather than adding depth to the story.
Overall: Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey #4 is the worst issue of this big X-Men event. Instead of getting the reader excited for the ending Matthew Rosenberg’s story ended up losing all its momentum. And for such something that should be a significant moment, now I am more excited about fast forwarding past the Phoenix Resurrection story rather than seeing how it ends. That is not the feeling that the return of Jean Grey should have.