Monday, May 27, 2024

It’s Hammer Time in Jean Grey

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The first issue of Jean Grey introduced Jean’s problem. A certain flaming cosmic bird-god has caught her scent. Since then she’s held a meeting of minds with everyone who’s ever come in contact with the Phoenix Force, even Namor, the biggest jerk in the seven seas.

Now that issue four has hit comic store shelves, it’s becoming clear that Jean Grey is very much a team-up book with a different guest every month. Jean’s mission: to find a way to fight the Phoenix in order to keep from being completely destroyed. She’s going to enlist the help of any and every character in the Marvel universe to reach that goal. Last-ish, Namor told her that she has a warrior’s spirit even though she may lack the skills to fight. All she needs is warrior training. Who better to train her than the fightingest hunk of Asgardian meat in the universe? We’re talking about Thor Odinson.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Jean heard rumors of Thor hanging out in a Jotunheim pub high in the mountains. With the help of Pickles, she’s got herself most of the way there, but has to do some climbing to get to the pub. (What kind of customers do they get there anyway?)  On her way up, she stumbles into a World of Warcraft dungeon. A whole party of orcs is geared for battle. They want to take Thor’s head.


Jean isn’t a warrior yet. There is no way she can take down a whole battalion of orcs on her own, so she does the only sensible thing. She looks for Thor.

She finds him, alright. He’s three sheets to the wind, and regaling the barkeep with tales of Avengers’ old triumphs. Jean springs into action, getting some coffee for the intoxicated demigod. She needs to get him sobered up and ready for battle. If only he still had his hammer…

The hammer thing is a bit of a sore subject.

Talkin’ and Fightin’

Before the battle begins, Jean lays out her plan to learn Thor’s warrior ways in order to fight the phoenix physically if need be. Thor answers her in the form of more anecdotes. Meanwhile, the orcs are ready to crash the party, and Jean is worried that the drunk Thor is going to keep yammering away even as they are pummeled to death.

Thor springs into action and starts cracking orc heads. It seems to have all been a put-on. There isn’t enough mead in the world to get Thor drunk enough that a mere hundred orcs could defeat him.

But mostly the luck thing.

It’s clear that Thor is enthusiastic to help Jean, it’s just that his methods seem more like drunken bragging than actual advice. That’s just Thor’s style. Eventually, Jean learns what she can by fighting side-by-side with one of the best. This on-the-job experience helps her more than any old war story Thor could tell. Personally, I could listen to them all day.

As they fight side-by-side, Thor regales Jean with more tales of past victories. That’s all well and good, but Jean doesn’t have a magic hammer of her own. That is, until she constructs one using her powers. She drops her psychic hammer on the last few orcs without even knowing how she did it.

After the battle, she and Thor talk it out. He was never drunk to begin with. All those stories were meant to teach warrior-ing to Jean, even if they weren’t very effective. Thor lays out some general rules for Jean. Basically, know your enemy, know yourself, and try to control as much as you can, but always be ready to improvise.

Oh, and it always helps to have a magic hammer. She’ll have to figure out how in the heck she did that.

Jean’s Adventures Through the Marvel U

I was a bit critical of last month’s issue, mostly because of the setting and the guest character. I don’t know much about Namor, and being underwater felt more awkward than interesting despite the strong artwork. This month is an entirely different story. It’s clear that Jean is going to be hopping around all over the Marvel U looking for different characters to help her out. This book is turning into her training montage, and I think that’s a great idea. It makes this book feel somewhat like an anthology book, but with a lot more cohesiveness.

This issue, for example, nails the fantasy genre that has been Thor’s niche since forever. Even the guest artist Harvey Tolibao uses his wonderfully detailed linework to give the book a fantastical, mythic feel. Guest of the week style books can be hit and miss, as we saw with last month’s issue, but this one really sticks the landing.

You have to credit Dennis Hopeless for taking Jean outside the X-Men corner of Marvel and teaming her up with characters you wouldn’t expect. Even Namor, which wasn’t quite as successful, was an interesting direction to take. I can’t wait to see who Jean teams up with in coming issues. Next month it looks like she will be hooking up with another X-Men alum who will help her refine her psychic arsenal before heading to the more magical mystical side of Marvel. Beyond that is anybody’s guess, and that’s exciting.

That happens with inter-realm travel.

Hopeless continues to delight us with Jean’s never-ending supply of sass. She’s determined and driven, and isn’t going to let some boozed-up Asgardian slow her down. It’s great to see Jean being proactive rather than sit with her X-Men wringing her hands and worrying when the Phoenix will show up. She’s a woman on a mission, and that mission is to kick some Phoenix butt. Thor Odinson has given her the mindset of a warrior, now she just has to figure out how in the heck she made a magic hammer. Next month: Psylocke

Fanfinites Rating: 8/10 Magic Hammers

Jean Grey #4

Writer: Dennis Hopeless

Artist: Harvey Tolibao

Colorists: Jay David Ramos & Dono Sanchez-Almara

Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

Images Courtesy of Marvel Comics

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