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Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Right now, Jean Grey is dead, and Marvel says that's the final word. But really, how final do you expect the death of someone named "Phoenix" to be?

One of the first mutants recruited by Professor Charles Xavier, Jean Grey has been an anchor of the X-Men since the team's inception. Tempering telepathy and telekinesis with warmth and compassion, Jean has overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges, rising from the ashes of her apparent death like a Phoenix to stand in defense of a world on the brink of genetic war! A telepath, Jean Grey can read minds, project thoughts and illusions into others' heads, and discharge mind-numbing mental bolts. Her telekinetic abilities allow her to levitate herself, other living beings and inanimate objects.

Okay, so to be honest, this isn't actually Jean Grey. Or maybe it is. Maybe it always was or never was. X-Men continuity is confusing. Originally Jean gained the Phoenix powers by being exposed to cosmic radiation, then turned evil, turned good and died. To bring her back, they revealed that it never was Jean, just the Phoenix Force imitating her. But then the hints started to drop that no, Jean was Phoenix again. That teasing went on for about 20 years, before she regained her full powers and died yet again. Before showing up in the future to be evil, good and dead, in that order. Again.

Jean has had a few figures over the years, but for the most part she's been overlooked, which is why it's so good that we've now got such a very cool version from Marvel Legends.

At 6¼" tall, Jean integrates nicely with the Marvel Legends and X-Men Classics figures of her teammates. She's got the new ML female body, which has a few changes from the one used before - while ToyBiz tried to create a hip joint that would look natural while still allowing a good range of motion, it just didn't work out very well. So that whole idea has been scrapped, and Jean's got balljoint hips, which look and move much better. Other than the new pelvis, the body is the same as the one introduced with Elektra: it moves at the toes, ankles, shins, knees, thighs, hips, waist, torso, neck, head, shoulders, biceps, elbows, forearms, wrists and hands.

Most of the costume elements are simply painted on, but her Phoenix sash is a separate PVC piece that is glued into slots around her waist. The pointed section of her boots that extends above the thigh joint can have some trouble lining up properly, so watch out for that in the stores.

Jean is a little bit top-heavy, both for the obvious reason and because she has that big head of hair. Her face is sculpted well, and while it doesn't make her a drop-dead stunner, it is an attractive look. And more importantly, it's very distinct - put her next to Elektra, Rogue or the Invisible Woman, and none of them look alike.

There are no accessories with this figure, which is good - it wasn't all that long ago that ToyBiz would have given her a missile-firing "Phoenix gun" or something stupid like that. Hell, just look at the current Spider-Man line for proof.

Marvel Legends 6 is proving to be very annoying when it comes to shortpacks: each case has either one Deadpool or one Phoenix, but not both. On top of that, you can either get the standard green and yellow Phoenix or the 1-in-20-cases variant red and gold Dark Phoenix. Thanks, guys! Another brilliant decision!

Like all the Marvel Legends, Phoenix comes with a detailed base. Hers is a representation of the fiery phoenix effect that surrounded her when she was using her powers. It's sculpted with lots of good flame detail all over, and of course has the distinctive bird shape. Rather than footpegs, there's a clip that fits Jean's waist to hold her in place. The Phoenix Force can either rest on the ground or be mounted to your wall, thanks to a hinged base at the bottom and the thoughtful inclusion of two hook-holes. The base measures 6½" tall and 5⅞" wide.

Phoenix comes with a reproduction of X-Men #101, the issue that unveiled the change from Marvel Girl to all-powerful cosmic force. Well, actually, only the first half of the issue is about that - it's tying up loose ends from issue 100. In the second half, the story really switches gears in order to begin the set-up for issue 102. Sure, this is the introduction of the character, but there are many better Phoenix stories they could have chosen.

-- 09/06/04

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