Review by Ian Keogh
The X-Men are used to strange phenomena, but even by their standards two catatonic children bleeding from the head and floating inches above the ground is unusual. So is much of what follows over an opening chapter featuring plenty of X-Men encountering people who should be dead. If that’s not enough Matthew Rosenberg features a few more, well away from the X-Men in a small town in which a pretty red-haired teenage waitress works at the local cafe. Carlos Pacheco’s sample art is set there. Then an incredibly bright light starts appearing in the sky.
Rosenberg’s plot works on the basis that anyone reading Phoenix Resurrection is going to have more than a passing familiarity with the X-Men and their backgrounds. It might be an event graphic novel, but it’s a somewhat the closed party to which new readers aren’t invited, because those people aren’t going to pick up in the little nuances he throws in. He does provide an explanation of the Phoenix, an otherworldly entity that’s extremely powerful, and in the past has chosen to bond with humans. It seems to back, but pretty well any X-Person with psychic powers that might somehow communicate is suddenly on the missing list.
Four artists over a five chapter story is usually far from ideal, but the similarities between the styles of Leinil Francis Yu, Carlos Pacheco, Joe Bennett and Ramon Rosanas are greater than the differences, so the transition between them is smooth. They’re all good superhero artists, and there are no problems with the look of Phoenix Resurrection.
Anyone who’s been reading X-Men comics for a long time can be forgiven a cynical ennui about Jean Grey’s repeated cycle of death and resurrection. Because these have been landmark stories, it’s a plot with diminishing returns, and there’s a feeling of Rosenberg being caught between a rock and a hard place. He’s not going to be able to please everyone, and what evolves into the temptation of Jean Grey won’t please everyone, but in the end Rosenberg pulls through. He seems to be swerving the plot one way, yet it doesn’t go there, and by the abrupt finish Jean Grey is back and fit for purpose again. This, by the way, is the adult Jean Grey, not the younger stand in and star of her own graphic novels beginning with Nightmare Fuel.
On balance, surely most X-Men fans would rather have the original Jean Grey available for use, and Rosenberg carries this out better than might have been expected. She’s next seen in X-Men Red.