The final showdown looms.
Theoretically, the return of Jean Grey should be a huge deal. This is a character who’s been dead for an eternity by comic book standards, and one who is beloved by X-Men fans the world over. Yet the greatest failing of Phoenix Resurrection is that it doesn’t make her return feel like the momentous event it should be. It’s simply one more underwhelming event comic in a franchise that seems to offer nothing but lately.
The best that can be said for issue #4 is that the X-Men are no longer wasting time traveling the globe and trying to solve a mystery to which readers already have the answer. Our heroes have finally figured out Jean is returning, and they’ve tracked her down to the deserts of New Mexico. But even with the endgame staring them in the face, the X-Men are annoyingly slow to get the ball rolling. Too much of this issue involves characters standing around an either cracking jokes and laying down exposition. Once again, I find myself wishing that Matthew Rosenberg had kept his cast trimmed down to a small handful of characters with close personal ties to Jean, rather than inserting basically every active X-Man into the mix.
Previous issues at least had Jean herself to fall back on. The mysterious nature of her small-town existence gave the series some much-needed ambiguity and energy. Sadly, now that the exact nature of Jean’s status quo and surroundings has been revealed, even that appeal is lost. There’s very little momentum leading into the fifth and final issue, even as Rosenberg sets up what should be a gut-wrenching reunion scene. Given how often this series has disappointed in other areas, what’s the likelihood that this encounter will be any different?
Phoenix Resurrection definitely isn’t being served by its plummeting visual quality. This issue is far below Ramon Rosanas’ usual standards, suggesting that it came together on a very rushed schedule. Rosanas’ lines are loose and lacking the clean, sleek quality they usually possess. Worse, the art makes a number of weird framing choices, with characters arranged seemingly at random or shoved into the background of panels. If the script is lacking in momentum, the art does nothing to pick up the slack.