Much like an iconic drag queen who melodramatically announces that she’s finally ready to retire and leave the business behind, the adult Jean Grey is actually coming back from the dead. That alone isn’t all that surprising, but the fact that she and the Phoenix Force will be leading the X-Men definitely is.
We’ve known for some time that Jean and the Phoenix will make their return later this year in Phoenix: Resurrection, but Marvel has larger plans for the character beyond merely reanimating her. In X-Men Red, a new series from Tom Taylor, Mahmud Asrar, and Travis Charest, Jean will become both the Phoenix and the leader of a new X-Men team. Jean’s led teams in the past, and this wouldn’t be the first time that she was part of an X-Men as the Phoenix, but in the past, the Phoenix was always an internal problem for Jean simmering just beneath the surface that she worked to hide from her teammates.
Given the nature of the Phoenix’s return this time around, everyone will know exactly what’s going on and X-Men Red’s premise suggests that they’ll still be willing to get in line behind Jean. After seeing so many stories about the Phoenix ultimately becoming a threat to the X-Men, X-Men Red has the potential to take the character in a completely new direction and explore parts of her identity that we seldom see. The Phoenix is life and death incarnate, yes, but it’s also a living catalyst for evolution, something that Marvel’s mutants could still very much use.
Details about the new series are scant aside from its name and the design of Jean’s new costume which...isn’t great. It’s clearly inspired by her classic 90s look, but Jean (technically) died in 2005's Phoenix: Warsong when we’d all agreed that those chunky shoulder pads were a questionable fashion choice. But maybe that’s the secret of the White Hot Room: it’s still the 90s there.
We’ll find out when X-Men Red drops next February.