Bizarre Adventures #27 (Jean Grey)
Issue(s): Bizarre Adventures #27 (Jean Grey story only)
The first story shows Jean Grey's sister Sara visiting Jean's gravestone (Jean's body is actually thought to be scattered on the moon) and worrying that her kids might be mutants. Her boy Tommy is nearing adolescence. This leads to a flashback with Sara and Jean going on vacation together. Sara is uncomfortable with Jean's powers and worried about her children.
Their boat is then kidnapped by Attuma and they are turned into blue water breathers.
Color might have helped with that, and i'd also like to note how even a great artist like John Buscema fails to depict people underwater as actually looking like they are. Jean's hair could at least be floating around. Yes, she has to swim in the bottom panels, but in the top few, you'd never know she was under water.
Attuma's plan is to kidnap female mutants and use them as breeding stock.
A bit convenient that Jean just happened to be out on the water, then, unless Attuma's men have been trailing a number of female mutants and just waiting for one of them to go out on a boat.
(There's a basic similarity between this idea and the plot of Atlantis Attacks, which Attuma is involved in, but i guess it's pretty superficial.)
Attuma has mental dampeners to prevent Jean from attacking him, but he's prepared for Marvel Girl, not the ultra-powerful Phoenix, and she's able to defeat Attuma and his troops and escape.
Her powers even restore her to air-breather status. The same doesn't happen automatically for Sara, however. And Sara starts to think that if she didn't have a family to go home to, she might actually like to remain a water-breather.
But since she does have a family, she agrees to let Jean use her Phoenix powers to restore her humanity. This is a complicated process, something Jean has to do cell-by-cell, but she's eventually able to do it.
It turns out that after this adventure, Jean mind-wipes Sara so she'll forget about it, but the mind-wipe only lasted until Jean died.
Jean is the student of Charles Xavier, no doubt, but there's no reason for her to have done that. Sara was pretty hysterical when Attuma first kidnapped and changed them, but Jean was able to mentally calm her down. At the end of the story, Sara is a bit shaken, and worried that her kids might become mutants, but she needs to be able to work through these things herself. Jean also thinks to herself that she'll have Xavier check and see if Sara's kids will become mutants, but she never followed up on that. As Sara thinks to herself, the mindwipe may have been really for Jean's sake, not hers.
Sara's concerns are a bit upside-down, too. The experience with Attuma made her worry that her kids might become mutants. And from what i can see, it's not "if my kids are mutants, they'll be targets of weirdos like Attuma", it's "they'll be freaks like Jean, whose awesome super-powers just rescued me from a super-villain". But back in the present day, reflecting at Jean's grave, she decides she won't mind if her children turn out to be mutants.
The most significant revelation in this story is a flashback-within-a-flashback that reveals that Jean Grey exhibited telepathy at an early age, but when it caused her to experience the dying thoughts of a childhood friend, Professor Xavier put in mental blocks.
The idea that Jean Grey had telepathic powers of her own is a good revelation, although it's kind of oddly slipped in here. Prior to this, Jean was purely a telekinetic until Xavier transferred his telepathy to her in preparation for his extended absence leading up to the Z'Nox invasion. It's much better that Jean has telepathy all along, and when Xavier said he was transferring his powers, he was really lifting her mental blocks. That doesn't explain how he gave the Changeling telepathy at the same time, though. And this important retcon really is buried, appearing in a black & white magazine instead of Uncanny, and after Jean was dead, and two flashbacks deep into a story with no footnotes or explicit confirmation that this is contradicting what we were told previously.
Jean is aided by some dolphins in this story. The Marvel Index says that some of the same dolphins also appeared in Classic X-Men #13.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Iceman story for this issue was reprinted in color and i've covered it in a separate entry and i've also got the Nightcrawler story in a separate entry because it takes place at a different time. Regarding this story, only Sara Grey appears in the present day and it takes place "a year" after Jean's death. The flashback sequence with Jean, Sara, and Attuma takes place between Uncanny X-Men #109-110, per the Marvel Index.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Jean's sister calls one of her kids Tommy in this story but when they later show up, they're named Joey and Gailyn.
Posted by: Michael | July 7, 2013 4:59 PM
Denny's intro could mean that they were inventory stories originally meant for the color books, but got denied spots for various reasons.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 7, 2013 6:22 PM
Marvel Spotlight announced plans for an Iceman story, a Jean Grey story and a Nightcrawler story. Probably all three stories were planned for Marvel Spotlight, then got moved to Bizarre Adventures when Marvel Spotlight flopped.
Posted by: Michael | July 7, 2013 6:40 PM
The Atlantis Attacks similarity is flagged up in X-Factor Annual 4, which is part of that crossover and features Attuma kidnapping the resurrected Jean in a replay of this ish's scenario. The art team on that annual, Byrne w/Simonson inks, sells the underwater scenes quite well.
I'm surprised this Jean Grey/Phoenix story was never reprinted in color--it's a decent story in its own right and is quite important for continuity.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | July 7, 2013 8:30 PM
Jean looks a whole lot like Red Sonja in that steel bikini. Probably due to being drawn by John Buscema.
Posted by: kveto | February 25, 2015 2:32 PM
I've been thinking about this story for some time.
How exactly did Xavier confer telepathic abilities to a non-mentalist? It's possible that the malleble brain of the Changeling made it possible. I don't see why this story couldn't have been an inventory issue of X-Men.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | July 2, 2015 10:19 PM
Why is "Jean" mind-wiping people so hard to believe? The Phoenix entity was doing that rather nonchalantly in the X-books, even before she became fully corrupted.
Sara's anti-mutant stance seems weird too. Before she was assimilated and her house was fire-bombed, Sara was presented as a staunch defender of mutant rights.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | December 13, 2016 10:54 PM
Was this the first mention of Annie Richardson?
Posted by: ChrisW | December 14, 2016 8:51 PM
Yes, and she's not mentioned again until Classic X-Men 3.
Posted by: Michael | December 14, 2016 11:11 PM
Was that in the Storm/Jean back-up story? I recall Claremont referring to Annie's death on a semi-regular basis, but only after Jean had come back from the dead, which "Classic X-Men" #3 falls under.
I like the Annie Richardson story. It's not really about Annie, but it's a very good establishing point for Jean, only comparable with Rogue's mutant powers manifesting the first time she made out with her boyfriend (Cody something? I forget his name.) That's how you establish backstory and make retcons work. And Jean's backstory makes a lot more sense for one of the original X-Men, while Rogue just came along later.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 14, 2016 11:26 PM
I had to look up what story was in "Classic X-Men" #3. You know, weren't those stories about the New X-Men joining the team, and Nightcrawler walking down the street without an image inducer, and Shaw, Emma and Tessa taking over the Hellfire Club, and Jean getting ready for her last date with Scott? That story really fell through the cracks.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 14, 2016 11:30 PM
It was Thunderbird's funeral- Jean tells Xavier that she knows what it feels like to have someone die when you're in their head.
Posted by: Michael | December 14, 2016 11:32 PM
I would also suggest this story was intended to be in black-and-white. I don't remember what Marvel was doing with its black-and-white magazines at the time, but I do know they were trying to do more upscale books, and using "X-Men" characters written by Claremont would be one of their first choices. The use of tone, the shading, the way narration boxes switch to black with white lettering, this was definitely made to be black-and-white.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 14, 2016 11:46 PM
Well of course, I was thinking of Thunderbird's funeral as I typed up the list, but I knew I was missing something when I pushed "post." When I saw Storm and Jean becoming friends, I assumed they were just expositing to each other about discovering their mutant powers.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 14, 2016 11:48 PM
I don't know. I'm just going off the scans, but if you look at most of the black and white stories fnord has they make much more creative use of shading. This one I can see the shading only being added once it was clear it was going to be in a black-and-white book, with the outlines otherwise being drawn with color in mind. As fnord notes, this certainly doesn't seem to have been plotted, maybe even scripted, with black and white in mind.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | December 15, 2016 1:37 AM
You may be right. I don't know enough about the differences between drawing for black-and-white versus drawing for color. I've speculated before that the addition of royalties made Claremont one of the highest-paid writers in any medium through the 1980s, and this is one reason he started adding (or trying to) mini-series, extra stories, and control the spin-offs.
He does seem to have had a fondness for Sara Grey, even though she hardly ever appeared, even suggesting her as a replacement for Jean in "X-Factor." Maddie hadn't yet been created, so Claremont may have considered her a "replacement" for Jean in Scott's life (her husband would presumably have been dealt with one way or the other.) Or bringing her kids in as mutants, although in that case at least one of them would have presumably joined the New Mutants. I don't think he ever specified how many kids Sara had (and where were they when she was spending the night at her parents' house in #136?) but maybe he couldn't decide which would be the mutant, and making both/all of them mutants would have overwhelmed the "New Mutants" title.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 15, 2016 8:30 PM
Forgot to make my original point, that this might have been an idea Claremont had worked out that was waiting for a home, and when this opportunity came along, it's what he had to offer, similar to the Rachel "Phoenix" miniseries, the "Amara and Hercules" issue of "New Mutants" or the plot for the 'what did Illyana do when she disappeared on the night Warlock arrived at the mansion' issue.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 15, 2016 8:46 PM
And one more thing, looking at the scans, I really like the way Klaus Janson looks over John Buscema, which is far different from how their later collaboration on "Wolverine" turned out.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 15, 2016 8:47 PM
@ChrisW, regardingbthe X-minis and spinoffs, most of the stories I've heard say that Marvel's editorial and business bosses drove the expansion of the line, and Claremont was usually told that if he didn't write the latest product, someone else would. New Mutants launched as an alternative to Mark Grunwald's suggestion of a second X-Men book with the unused adult characters. That other idea went ahead anyway in a modified form as X-Factor, over Claremont's objection and without his participation. I've wondered if he didn't launch Excalibur in part to head off somebody else taking up the unused characters (I think he's attested to this). Claremont has definitely said he was told that if he didn't write the Wolverine ongoing in '88, someone else would.
But Claremont might have been the driving force with this story: he has been a regular contributor to Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu, and a Dauhgters of the Dragon story intended for that mag ran in Bizarre Adventures when DHOKF was canceled. Marvel was clearing out most of its magazine line at this point, and putting Marvel superheroes in a mag was, I believe, a last-ditch experiment with a new(ish) format. Claremont and the X-Men were a logical talent and property to try out.
You're right that Claremont had plans for Sara Gray and her family. At one point, she was going to have Caliban-like mutant-detection powers. And I think at one time her children were considered as possible New Mutants characters.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | December 16, 2016 12:45 AM
"...even suggesting her as a replacement for Jean in "X-Factor." Maddie hadn't yet been created, so Claremont may have considered her a "replacement" for Jean in Scott's life (her husband would presumably have been dealt with one way or the other.)"
I think you're a bit confused about the chronology here. X-Factor #1 already has Scott leaving Maddie to join X-Factor when he learns Jean is back, leading to the complaint that X-Factor ruined the happy ending Claremont already had set up for Scott that involved Maddie as, semi-speculatively, a replacement for Jean. Did you mean something else when you said X-Factor, or was something else going on here?
Posted by: Morgan Wick | December 16, 2016 3:29 AM
Morgan, no, I've heard that Sara was suggested as a possible replacement for Jean, by Claremont, to keep his storylines intact. Since this story was done long before "X-Factor" was created, I think Claremont had one of his (never-resolved) plot ideas in mind.
It's just another stupid idea that resulted in the original "X-Factor," that all of the original X-Men would get together again, and Scott would leave his new wife and baby son for the sister of his ex-girlfriend, right after he quit the X-Men permanently. Yet I have heard that Sara Grey is who Claremont suggested for the female member of "X-Factor" and this story demonstrates why he would have considered her a relevant character in any way, shape or form.
My point is that this story was done after Phoenix died, but long before Maddie was ever created (by Claremont, not Sinister ;) ) so I think Claremont was trying to think of something to do with Sara, but never got around to it.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 18, 2016 12:07 AM
Walter, I know you're right about the "Wolverine" series. It's just that the audience was told there would be a Rachel Summers miniseries, or other spin-offs. I'm sure you're right about "Excalibur" too. I have no proof, but I assume Claremont wanted to keep tabs on Kitty, Kurt and Rachel, and play with Alan Moore's toys, and have Alan Davis drawing them.
My theory is that Claremont, in his prime, was coming up with tons of stories for the various X-characters. Very few came to fruition, but he was doing his job. You're right that there was going to be an "X-Men" spin-off whether or not Claremont liked it, but he'd been working on the concept with Byrne and Wheezie anyway, so when push came to shove, they had a "New Mutants" title ready to go, and Claremont had a track record that Jim Shooter (and others) were willing to support.
Stories like this, like the Ms. Marvel story fighting Rogue that wasn't published until after he'd left, the "Old Friends" miniseries, 'what happened to Illyana on the night Warlock arrived,' "Amara meets Hercules," the miniseries that never happened, and yeah, filling in 8 or 10-page stories in books like this or "Marvel Comics Presents," I think Claremont was doing very well for himself selling ideas for comics.
Not unheard of. I understand DC has based most of its crossovers on Alan Moore "Green Lantern" short stories and unpublished plots for a couple decades now.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 18, 2016 12:20 AM
@Fnord- The cover date for this issue should be listed as July 1981, according to a listing on Ebay.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | October 2, 2017 9:24 PM
Posted by: fnord12 | October 2, 2017 9:31 PM
Did see the cover date listed on the Iceman story. Sorry if I jumped the gun.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | October 2, 2017 9:31 PM
Picked up the cheap COLOUR reprint of this the other day - part of a 'True Believers' line of significant Phoenix issues.
Posted by: Dave77 | January 2, 2018 4:18 PM
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