Bookmans Recommends: The Trial of Jean Grey
By Jeremy N. Fisher, Administrative Assistant at Bookmans Mesa
Comics are great. I love comics. I’ve grown fond of independent comics, stuff from Image or Dark Horse, maybe Vertigo. I’m not as enamored with the superhero genre as I once was. When I do get a hankering for some good ol’ fashioned capes and cowls, make mine Marvel! I gravitate to their characters and storytelling more so than DC, but lately both companies have muddied the waters with massive crossovers, reboots and character franchising. It’s hard to get a simple, well-written, engaging story these days without having to check several Wikipedia pages to get the full back story on all the characters to make sure your continuity is up to date. It can be exhausting. Or just plain confusing. With this in mind, I picked up The Trial of Jean Grey.
When I sat down to read The Trial of Jean Grey, a crossover between the Guardians of the Galaxy and the All-New X-Men, I wasn’t sure if I’d know what was going on. Even the cover is confusing. The original X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Angel, Iceman and Beast) are recognizable, as were most of the Guardians. Starlord and Gamora sport re-designed costumes, but Angela stands out the most. She appears with the Guardians a lot lately, but I could have sworn she is a Spawn character. Different publisher, different universe. What gives?
Turns out Angela was created by Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane back in the day, appearing first in Spawn and then in her own series. The two creators argued over the rights to the character for several years, but eventually she was released into Gaiman’s custody. He brought her to Marvel. From what I can tell, she pops in from “another universe” and has some connection to Asgard. But I digress.
The Trial of Jean Grey is good. A solid storytelling effort – if you can get past the time travel and several characters’ alternate continuities. If you weren’t already aware [spoiler alert], Jean Grey has been dead for a while. And twice. She kills a lot of people as the Phoenix and apparently needs to be put down. This time around, however, Jean’s pre-Phoenix-self shows up in the present. Some folks are upset about it so they kidnap her and force her to stand trial for crimes she hasn’t committed yet. Only, the people she didn’t kill are still dead. ‘Cuz time travel paradoxes are easy to ignore.
It’s an interesting story but quickly becomes tedious and strained with too many characters and directions, especially when most of those characters are already hard to care about in their current incarnations. You can only infuse old/dead characters with so much new blood before they get smelly and bloated. The writing is capable but suffers from HPWS (High Profile Writer Syndrome). This is rampant in comics these days. Good writers spread themselves thin and stir too many plots at once. You can write a lot of books or you can write great books, but usually you can’t do both.
The illustration is the standout in this volume, with art duties split between the ever-stellar Stuart Immonen and relative newcomer Sara Pichelli. Their styles compliment each other enough to not be as distracting as most crossovers. There are a lot of great moments in The Trial of Jean Grey, but I still gravitate to more independent comics, although Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s work on Daredevil is especially great lately.
The awesome thing about Bookmans is that no matter what your tastes, you can find these titles and more like them on our shelves. Shop. Read. Decide for yourself.