Review by Frank Plowright
There’s some small irony in Jean Grey being an integral part of the Marvel universe since 1963, yet her first run at a solo title took fifty years, and when it arrived it starred her younger, more uncertain teenage self. This Jean has been transported through time to the 21st century along with the four other original X-Men (Yesterday’s X-Men), and has learned all about the deaths and revivals awaiting her future self. It’s a destiny she doesn’t intend to comply with, but when the Phoenix entity appears to be seeking her out, she may not have a choice.
Dennis Hopeless sets a nice conundrum. Futures are a series of possible alternatives, and simply by shifting to the 21st century and remaining there Jean has already sidestepped one life path, so can she do it again? That becomes the thrust of Nightmare Fuel as she consults others who’ve hosted the Phoenix force, however briefly, and simply by widening the cast via them Hopeless has an already well defined bunch of conflicting personalities to play Jean off. However, a continuing plot requiring Jean to consult with assorted other characters sometimes verges on her playing co-star in what’s supposed to be her own series. Hopeless copes with this well. When she’s in danger of being swamped off the page by Namor’s larger than life personality Hopeless ensures the brakes are applied, and that’s followed by a clever encounter with Thor.
The opening three chapters are drawn by Victor Ibáñez (sample page). He has to be an adaptable artist as Jean’s power set involves investigating the minds of others, which generates multiple strange representations and different locations, all of which he copes with well. Because of the plot’s episodic nature it’s not a disaster that what follows is the work of three different artists, but it’s regrettable that Marvel no longer consider artistic consistency to be any form of priority. Harvey Tolibao, Anthony Piper, Paul Davidson are all good, each having a different approach for a different environment.
Jean visits the succession of other superheroes firstly to learn what it’s like to be possessed by the Phoenix entity and then to learn how to fight before confronting it. Scrutinised logically, the stealth mission accompanying Psylocke isn’t going to be much help when faced with a millennia old primal force able to wipe out entire planets in an instant, but go with the flow. The Sub-Mariner and Thor segments are the most fun, but everything else passes muster, and leads naturally to the conclusion in Final Fight.