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The X-Men’s Jean Grey is resurrected this week: Here’s how it happened

Welcome home, Jean

Jean Grey in Phoenix: Resurrection #5, Marvel Comics, 2018. Leinil Francis Yu, Joe Bennett/Marvel Comics
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Marvel’s five-issue miniseries, Phoenix: Resurrection, made good on its title this week, and on one of the major promises of the company’s Legacy relaunch. In the final issue, Jean Grey is once again among the living.

But what does this mean for the Phoenix Force, the supreme cosmic entity of life, death and rebirth that prefers her as its host? And how did Jean come back in the first place?

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for Phoenix: Resurrection.]

Here’s how Marvel brought Jean Grey back from the dead (again)

After a series of strange, psychic occurrences in locations around the globe that have a special significance to the life of Jean Grey, the X-Men discovered that Jean’s grave was empty. And if you’re wondering “Huh, when did Jean die?,” it was back in 2004 — a span of nearly 14 years. For a character who’s known for resurrection, that’s actually a pretty remarkable length of time to spend dead.

Anyway, Jean’s grave leads the X-Men to an inescapable conclusion: Jean Grey is back, and so is the incredibly dangerous cosmic entity known as the Phoenix Force.

Meanwhile, we were also shown a young woman named Jean, who waitresses at a diner in an idyllic small town — an idyllic small town populated by carbon copies of the people most important to Jean Grey’s life. Scott Summers (Cyclops) is there, and a car mechanic named James Howlett (Wolverine), and even an adult version of Annie Richardson, the young girl whose death awakened Jean’s telepathic mutation.

This Jean seems unaware of any higher level of significance to her existence, but strange things are definitely happening. And in this week’s issue, written by Matthew Rosenberg and drawn by Leinil Francis Yu and Joe Bennett, the town turns out to be a simulated life created for her by the Phoenix, and Jean is the Jean Grey. The entity wants her to be its host once more, so it brought her back to life and constructed the illusion of a town to mold her psyche into one more compatible with its destructive nature. When the X-Men find it, it lets them in, all in the name of manipulating Jean into wanting to merge with the Phoenix.

But fortunately for the X-Men (and, well, Earth and the universe), the Phoenix’s plan doesn’t work. The Phoenix can’t make Jean want its power more than she wants to be free of it. Not even by, in a rather touching scene, reminding Jean that it could resurrect a certain dead X-Men character who has meant a great deal to her over the years.

Jean Greay and the Phoenix, from Phoenix: Resurrection #5, Marvel Comics 2018. Matthew Rosenberg, Leinil Francis Yu, Joe Bennett/Marvel Comics

Admitting defeat, the Phoenix and Jean say their goodbyes — and the X-Men have their long-lost founding member back, alive and unharmed.

Jean’s story will continue in X-Men: Red, written by Tom Taylor and drawn by Mahmud Asrar, in which she’ll lead her own team of X-Men, with a roster including Nightcrawler, Namor the Submariner and Laura Kinney’s Wolverine. That series’ first issue will hit shelves on Feb. 7, but first, she’ll be paying a visit to her time-displaced younger self in the pages of Jean Grey #11, out this week.