Monday, July 15, 2024

Jean Grey Goes for a Swim

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Last month, Jean searched for clues about the Phoenix Force. It seems inevitable that the Phoenix will find her and take her over just like the Jean from this timeline. She reached out to everyone who had ever been host to the Phoenix hoping for a way to avoid total annihilation. Well, almost everyone. There was one guy she hasn’t talked to yet, a certain aquatic a-hole was host to the Phoenix and seems to have come out the other side no more (or less) of a dick than before. Maybe he can give Jean some pointers. We’re talking, of course, about Namor, the Submariner.

Undah Da Sea

If only he would stop talking…

We open on Jean already underwater. She’s looking for Namor on his home turf. She hasn’t found him yet, but she has drawn the attention of something else; something far less friendly than Namor, if that’s even possible. She tries hiding and then fighting, but this is one sea monster who isn’t going down as easily as the Wrecking Crew. Luckily Namor picks that moment to show up.

In typical Namor fashion, he saves Jean from the jaws of the monster even as he shreds her with his dry wit and sarcastic barbs. Jean sees his jerkiness as an asset. Perhaps he has some secret to dealing with the Phoenix that others were simply too nice to pull off. It doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes.

Going For a Swim

The beast gets a nasty hit on Namor and slips away. Namor and Jean give chase while Jean gives him her pitch. She wants to rap about Phoenix Force things while Namor seems intent on bagging the sea beast first. He gives in and listens to her questions before deriding her some more. Before they can really hash things out, a flurry of fleeing sea life alerts them to the presence of the monster, and the fight resumes.

Unfortunately, the hit Namor took earlier delivered a hefty dose of venom, and he’s feeling it. Jean has to fight for both of their lives. She knocks the kraken silly with a psychic haymaker. This gives them time for Jean to poke around in Namor’s mind like she did last issue with the others. The unfortunate reality is that Namor’s mind is as fried as the rest of them, he just hides it better. If the great and mighty Namor can’t stand up to the Phoenix, what hope does young Jean have?

We’ll have to wait to find out because the monster’s back. Namor offers to sacrifice himself so Jean can escape, but she’s having none of it. Armed with his trident, she finally bests the monster single-handed. Finally, Namor is impressed. She has the heart of a warrior after all. Maybe if she fights hard enough, she can beat the Phoenix herself.

Water Level

Most video games have a “water level”. This is a level where your character has to go through the motions of the game partially or fully submerged. These levels are a twist on the game, presumably to break up the monotony of the game’s mechanics. You have to deal with different physics, and in some cases, running out of air. Mostly, water levels are just an annoying thing you have to do, and you suffer through them to get to the next level. I wouldn’t go so far as saying this comic made me suffer, but it feels like Jean is spinning her wheels a bit here. This issue is definitely a water level.

…and just as frustrating.

Last issue, thanks to Quentin Quire, Jean got a glimpse inside the minds of former hosts of the Phoenix, and the ashen ruins it left in its wake. Namor was her last hope at a clue to beating the Phoenix, and she didn’t really find one. Namor’s mindscape is a flaming burned-out nightmare, just like the others. Aside from this reveal, the rest of the issue was either a battle with a sea monster or listening to Namor be jerky. It just didn’t do it for me.

First of all, I’ve never been a fan of Namor. He’s one of Marvel’s oldest properties, but I can’t say I’ve ever read anything with him in it. The only thing I know about him is he’s like Aquaman if Aquaman was an even bigger a$$hole. I don’t feel anything endearing about him being douchey to Jean.

Super douchey.

Also (and this might just be on me) the setting took me out of the story. Little things about it bug me, like does Jean’s X-Men uniform double as a wetsuit? Does she already have a wetsuit with her colors on it (complete with matching mask and fins)? How does her mask seal to her face, but let her bangs stay in place? Also, she doesn’t seem to be wearing a tank of any kind. Maybe her mask is super advanced technology, I don’t know.

Maybe I’m being unnecessarily nitpicky, but being underwater like this feels like it should be way more complicated than it’s depicted. Is there a boat waiting for her? If so, why is she diving alone? How is she talking to Namor with a mask on? Wouldn’t her voice be muffled? I just can’t with it being underwater. Maybe it’s unfair, but suspension of disbelief will only get me so far, and this is a bit of an overreach.

It’s Otherwise Okay

Ultimately, Jean realizes that she’s strong. Maybe she’s even strong enough to fight against the Phoenix. I’m glad she realizes this because Jean has always been powerful, but in other incarnations, been afraid of her own strength or purposely held back by those around her. The Phoenix was originally drawn to her because of her innate power, after all. That being the case, maybe Jean is much more powerful than even she realizes, and reaching her full potential could be the answer.

It’s certainly better than relying on Namor.

I just… I wish there was a better way for her to come to this realization than fighting an implausible sea monster with the king of the jerks. The underwater scenes are very beautiful, and the art in the book continues to be pretty darn good. The underwater landscapes (seascapes?) feel cold and unforgiving, and the action scenes would be fun except for Namor. I still love Jean, and Hopeless is still doing a good job capturing her character, but, unfortunately, this issue had me looking forward to the next level.

Fanfinites Rating: 6/10 Magic Tridents

Jean Grey #3

Writer: Dennis Hopeless

Artist: Victor Ibáñez

Layout Artist: Al Barrionuevo

Colorists: Jay David Ramos and Dono Sánchez-Almara

Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham

Images Courtesy of Marvel Comics

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