Jean Grey in Animation: A Retrospective

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RoyalRubble

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I originally planned on finishing this retrospective and posting it last year, before The Wolverine debuted, but sadly I didn't have nearly enough time to complete it (it's still not finished as of the time I'm writing this, in case you're wondering). This thread will try to chronicle all of Jean's appearances in cartoons from the 60s to today. Most images here will appear courtesy of Marvel Animation Age, and I hope you all enjoy reading it!

Jean Grey debuted in Uncanny X-Men #1 (September 1963), and was created by the team of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. A founding member of the first X-Men team and the only girl on the team for quite some time, Jean is a mutant born with telepathic and telekinetic powers. Originally known as Marvel Girl, Jean has been present for much of the X-Men's history. Over the years she participated in a lot of adventures with her team; she fell in love and eventually married fellow team member Cyclops, though their relationship wasn't all that happy. Once Wolverine joined the team she sometimes felt attracted to him (and the feeling was mutual). She is probably best known for playing an important role during the original Phoenix Saga from the comics and interestingly for dying and coming back to life a large amount of times throughout the years. Since death can't be featured in just any cartoon, this trait of her comic book personality wasn't really used in animation, as this retrospective will hopefully demonstrate.

Her first animated appearance was on the Marvel Super Heroes Show, which aired in syndication in 1966 and featured five of Marvel's superheroes starring in their own series each one consisting of 13 episodes (separated into three 7-minutes long segments). This show had very limited animation, and was composed almost entirely of actual comic book panels with a voice-over; basically an early version of today's motion-comics. Jean (alongside the other four original X-Men and Professor X) appears for a couple of scenes in an episode of Namor the Sub-Mariner, titled "Dr. Doom's Day". The story is an adaption of Fantastic Four #6 (1962), but since the Grantray-Lawrence Animation studio didn't have access to the Fantastic Four characters - since Hanna-Barbera was producing an animated series featuring the FFs around the same time - the heroes were replaced with the X-Men, though they were strangely called the "Allies for Peace" in this cartoon.

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In this story, Doctor Doom uses a machine to send as many super villains as possible to attack the city. The X-Men fight off Mole Man and his monsters inside the Peace Building, and despite the limited animation each one uses his or her powers decently enough. Marvel Girl uses her telekinetic powers to keep Mole Man off balance while the others attack him. She's the only one of the X-Men who didn't speak in this episode, thus no voice actress was required. After this first act, featuring many super heroes fighting even more super villains, the next two acts are more about the star of this series of segments Namor, and the other heroes aren't seen again. While I always found these Namor segments the most boring parts of the Marvel Super Heroes show, this particular episode is among the better ones, if only for marking the first ever animated appearance of the X-Men.

Her career in animation throughout the 80s wouldn't be that great either, as she only had a couple of cameos during the two animated Spider-Man shows which aired in that period. For starters, in the 1981 solo Spider-Man cartoon which aired in syndication, a replica of her Phoenix uniform can be seen in the window of Stan's Costume Shop in the episode "The Capture of Captain America", alongside replicas of other heroes' costumes.

Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends started airing on NBC in fall of 1981. This show saw Spider-Man teaming up with Iceman and Firestar (a character created specially for the animated series), as a trio known as the "Spider-Friends". The show featured guest appearances and cameos from a lot of other Marvel Comics characters. And while the X-Men did appear a couple of times on the show, Jean was only present in one episode (and only in a flashback). But first, in the series premiere episode "Triumph Of The Green Goblin", at the school masquerade party among the many people disguised as famous Marvel super-heroes, one of the guests was wearing Jean's Phoenix costume - don't know if it was supposed to be an allusion to the previous show I mentioned before but I thought it was neat.

The episode featuring the flashback mentioned above is titled "The Origin of Iceman", and well it should be obvious what the main story was about. The episode is pretty good overall, though I didn't particularly care about the villain Videoman - who appeared in a total of three episodes, and was one of the original characters created for this show. When Iceman starts losing his powers he retells his origin to the other Spider-Friends; this flashback portion offers us a couple of neat scenes with the original five X-Men training in the Danger Room. Marvel Girl here uses her powers to levitate some weights, highlighting her "fantastic power of mind over matter". Nothing spectacular but I thought it was at least better animated than her 60s appearance. No voice actress was required this time either. Various other members of the X-Men appear in other episodes as well (most notably "The X-Men Adventure"). With two former members of the X-Men as the main stars of the show, it shouldn't be too surprising.

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Jean wasn't used in the Pryde of the X-Men animated special which premiered in syndication during the Marvel Action Universe television block in 1989. I didn't really miss her as this pilot is pretty awesome and features enough characters anyway. The team roster was composed of Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Wolverine and Dazzler, with Kitty Pryde a.k.a. Shadowcat joining the team in this cartoon. The story is fairly simple (they have to fight Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants, and stop a comet from colliding with our planet), but I think it's very entertaining. The animation looks very nice - much nicer than the X-Men animated series which followed, in 1992.

Even though Jean's first appearances in cartoons weren't that great, she'd get a lot of chances to shine (even though she doesn't really succeed at shining in all of them) in the next animated series, X-Men: The Animated Series - which will be covered in the next part of this retrospective!
 

MCBT

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Not a bad start, though I have to disagree with you on Pryde of the X-Men given that it featured everything I tend to hate abut 80's cartoons.
 

Neo Ultra Mike

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I think it's kind of sad how the first real backstory of a female mutant character wasn't with Jean Grey in animation but rather the "made up for the show" character of Firestar in Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. Granted there wasn't really much you could do with mutants in the 80's on an animated TV kids show dealing you know the underlying social dramas, but still feels that's the first true representation until obviously X-Men the animated series. To be fair I think even by the time of Spider Man and his amazing friends there wasn't really the stuff with The Phoenix, one of the most interesting parts about Jean that we'll see adapted or at least hinted at in every other X-men cartoon but still something else could of been done honestly.
 

RoyalRubble

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Well, it's been almost 2 years since I started this thread and never updated it again, but I thought the premiere of X-Men: Apocalypse would be a good time to revisit it. Just as a head's up, I'll only talk about the 90s shows for now. The other newer animated projects where Jean Grey appeared will be covered later on, eventually.

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X-Men: The Animated Series premiered in fall of 1992, and aired on Fox Kids until 1997, running for five seasons with a total of 76 episodes, making it is to this date the longest running X-Men animated series. It was also the longest running Marvel animated series, until being surpassed by Ultimate Spider-Man, once it was official it would receive a third season.

While X-Men: TAS is still fun to watch, I admit most of the episodes haven't really aged that well. The animation is probably the worst thing about the show - I guess even in the early 90s this animation was considered pretty bad. But I like to think the stories make up for that, at least on occasion. There are plenty of neat story-arcs spread throughout the show's run, most of the characters get some decent to great characterizations and memorable moments and there were some pretty surprising twists to the stories at times. The show will probably always hold a special place in my heart though, seeing as this was pretty much by introduction to the X-Men Universe and just how many fond memories I have of watching the show for the first time years ago.

The series focused on a core team of X-Men inspired by the early 1990s comics drawn by Jim Lee, but also featured dozens of cameos from other mutants and heroes during its run. Jean Grey here was voiced by Catherine Disher and was one of the main characters. Throughout the show's run her relationship with Scott Summers/Cyclops was explored and developed, and I thought the love triangle concerning them and Logan/Wolverine was handled pretty well. The show also presented a pretty faithful adaptation of the Phoenix Saga story-arc from the comics, in which she played a large role (and it was probably the highlight of her animated career on this series). I'll talk more about that in the next parts of the retrospective though. Her uniform here is obviously based on the one she wore in the comics at that time, but it looks a little too silly - the colors are kind of weird and the contrast makes it look off. I'm no fashion expert but I usually like superheroes' (and especially superheroines') costumes. Since Jean was present in pretty much every episode, I'll just comment on her most notable appearances, which to be honest aren't that many.

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She makes her debut in the series premiere, the two-part story titled "Night of the Sentinels". Following the series of attacks by Sentinels on mutant kind and the X-Men's realization of who seems to be behind all of this (the Government, of course), Cyclops (apparently the field leader of the team) leads a group of his colleagues to infiltrate the Mutant Control Agency. Jean doesn't join them on this mission, though I didn't miss her since the action scenes we got were pretty awesome and the climax of the battle pretty much sets the stage for the next few seasons - Beast is injured and captured (and spends most of his screen-time in prison, for the remainder of the season), and Morph is feared dead (he gets better... well maybe "better" isn't the right word for him, but he does return later on).

Jean is actually the one who breaks these news to the others - even if she wasn't present on the battlefield, she used Cerebro to find out what happened - and tries comforting Scott that it wasn't his fault, regardless if his orders during the mission lead to all this. Logan isn't very happy about all this and takes his frustration on both Scott (and his car). Eventually the X-Men get their chance to destroy dozens of Sentinels in the climax of the two-part story, but there will be plenty of other Sentinels to fight in future episodes as well. The series premiere also introduces Jubilee, the X-Men's newest member, who got pretty annoying at times but she was a decent enough character I guess. It's just that she was pretty much the only character to officially join the team throughout the show's run, regardless of how many other characters guest-starred, or teamed-up with the mutants in other episodes. Not counting alternate timelines, of course (which would get just too confusing).

"Captive Hearts" advances the love triangle between Jean, Scott and Logan, and also offers lots of other neat little moments. The episode begins with a pretty cool short scene showing an X-Men training session inside the Danger Room, with all of them - including Jean - using their powers well enough. The session ends abruptly when Storm freaks out because of her claustrophobia (another neat sub-plot that would be approached in this episode). Jean is going out on a date with Scott but still finds time to comfort an injured Logan before leaving (he was injured in a previous episode, by his old pal Sabretooth). It's a brief scene but the chemistry between Logan and Jean is pretty obvious and handled well enough, and made clear they each have feelings for one another.

The Morlocks are also introduced in this story as a group of (mostly) hideous mutants who can't live on the surface world and decided to make the subway tunnels and sewers their homes. Their leader, Callisto, captures Jean and Scott, wishing to make the latter her mate. The other X-Men come to the rescue which leads to some pretty good fight scenes - as well as other neat moments, such as one of the Morlocks hypnotizing Jean into believing she's her daughter, so she won't leave, or afterwards hypnotizing Wolverine into attacking Cyclops for keeping him away from what is his (in this case, Jean). Things all work out in the end with Jean using her powers to break free from the spell and stop Wolverine in time. The episode ends with everyone back home safely, though Logan decides to leave the team without telling anyone since he can't take the tension between him and Jean any longer.

One of the things I always liked about this show was just how serialized it was (at least in the early seasons). Following Logan's decision to leave the X-Men in the previous episode, the next one shows us where he ran off to, and only briefly shows us what's happening back at the Xavier Mansion. Interestingly Jean has realized Logan left because of her, but Scott doesn't seem to realize that just yet. There's also the first mention of the island of Genosha, which is rumored to be a safe haven for mutants, and a couple of the X-Men are sent undercover to investigate. As for Logan, well he left somewhere in the Arctic where he runs across Sabretooth again and realizes there's nowhere he can run from what he really is and decides to return to the team.

In "Slave Island", Jean joins the others in their mission to Genosha to rescue their teammates and any other mutant enslaved there. Turns out Genosha wasn't the mutant paradise it was advertised as, and all mutants who arrived there were enslaved and forced to work on building a dam, to power a new Sentinel factory. The X-Men return home victorious only to find the X-Mansion has been destroyed while they were gone. Then there's also the fact the team has no idea if Professor X was inside the mansion when it was demolished, or not. A pretty shocking and completely unexpected ending.

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With a title like "The Unstoppable Juggernaut", the next episode kind of gives away who demolished their home. Still, it's a pretty cool episode - some of the X-Men start rebuilding the mansion, while Logan (and Jubilee) track down the culprit. The episode also introduces Piotr Rasputin, a.k.a. Colossus, one of the most underrated X-Men I think, who has never really had all that much to do in any of the X-Men animated series he's appeared in (and he's appeared in all of them so far). There's some good fights between the X-Men and the appropriately named Unstoppable Juggernaut, with some neat hints as to him being Xavier's step-brother and him not being a true mutant but rather having magical powers. Jean Grey is actually the one who stops him, after the others manage to remove his helmet - she uses the Cerebro system to hypnotize the Juggenaut into leaving, though she admits she has no idea how long the effects would last.

Xavier's whereabouts are revealed in "The Cure" - he's been on Muir Island where it's rumored that a scientist has managed to create a machine which could extract mutant powers, making hated mutants into regular humans again. Rogue is one of the mutants who would welcome being normal again, seeing as her powers make her unable to touch anyone without that person suffering or even worse. Jean mentions she feels how sad Rogue is when she sees her with Cyclops. Not too surprising, the scientist's machine wasn't exactly what it was rumored to be, and the scientist himself was none other than Mystique, working under Apocalypse's orders. The first mutants who underwent the treatment to have their powers removed actually became Apocalypse's first slaves, his Four Horsemen (with Angel, one of the founding members of the X-Men from the comics, now called Archangel being the most interesting one). When Apocalypse attacks the world in "Come the Apocalypse", the X-Men fight back and manage to win - at least for now.

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The first season also featured an adaptation of the well-known "Days of Future Past" story-line from the comics (probably even more well-known today since it's live-action adaptation from last year). There were bound to be some changes from the original story to the animated version (and the live-action version as well, but that's another story); the episodes are still pretty cool but the overuse of time travel stories, featuring alternate timelines which spawned from this two-part episode got pretty confusing each time the likes of Cable and Bishop popped up in latter episodes. The best part about this story (or at least my favorite stuff) is seeing the post-apocalyptic future where Sentinels run amok and not only mutants but also humans are hunted down by these robots and Trackers like Bishop was in the beginning of the story.

The story sees Bishop traveling back in time to the 90s to stop an assassination - but he can't remember all the details. Throughout the story it's revealed that gambit apparently killed Senator Kelly, which lead to the bad future Bishop has just escaped from. By the end of the episodes it's revealed that the true killer was Mystique posing as Gambit, but she was stopped either way. It's also the first time we learn she used to be Rogue's adoptive mother, something which will come up again later on during the show. As for Jean Grey, well she was present in most of the fight scenes and that's about it. There's also a neat but confusing little moment where Cyclops tries to defend her in front of Bishop saying she couldn't possibly be the assassin he's looking for.

The season finale was titled "The Final Decision", and saw the X-Men teaming up with a reluctant Magneto to save the life of Senator Kelly who has been kidnapped by the Sentinels. The Sentinel Master Mold (which used to create the mutant hunting robots in the past) has gained consciousnesses and plans to take over the world. After a huge fight the mutants apparently win, and the episode does a good job at tying up most loose ends (including Beast finally getting released from prison)... as well as set up a new rather mysterious villain for the next season. The episode ends with Scott asking Jean to marry him, which she accepts. But a sinister voice is heard in the background, observing them and laughing at their idea of "hope for the future".

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All in all, a pretty strong first season of the show. Lots of stuff happened and while it did get confusing at times I'd say it's still a pretty enjoyable ride re-watching the episodes now. As for Jean, well, she didn't really do all that much here and things wouldn't improve too much in the following seasons (except maybe season 3); still a decent enough showcase for her I guess. With an ensemble cast it's to be expected that not all the characters would get the same amount of screen-time, or the same treatment.

Next: Jean Grey on X-Men: TAS! (continued)
 

RoyalRubble

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The second season of X-Men: TAS started with the two part story "'Till Death Do Us Part", titled this way because it featured Jean and Scott's wedding. While they are partying alongside pretty much all the other X-Men, Wolverine is training inside the Danger Room. Well, not exactly training, since all the robots he's slashing were made up to look like Cyclops. Obviously he still had some issues with him and still cares about Jean. He even tries confessing his feelings to her, in a neat little scene but not surprisingly that doesn't help end this classic love triangle.

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The episodes also introduce a new sinister villain in Mister Sinister, who's obsessed with Jean and Scott, believing their offspring would be a superior race of mutants which he wishes to control. More vague hints about his obsession with gaining their genetic material would be featured throughout the season. His minions (the so-called Nasty Boys) are pretty cool though not really developed enough to make them too interesting. They're usually seen attacking the X-Men and kidnapping Jean.

In another interesting twist, Morph is revealed to be alive, also thanks to Mister Sinister. He's under Sinister's control though, and posed as the priest who married Jean and Scott at the start of the episode (meaning they're not really married) and even more than that, he still wants revenge on the X-Men for leaving him behind in the first place. I admit watching him turn into different characters and causing mischief throughout the episode was cool.

The episodes also set up the plot for the rest of the season - Xavier and Magneto are missing, trapped somewhere inside the Savage Land, without their powers. Just about each episode featured at last a small scene with the two trying to survive within that environment. It got kind of boring after a while but it did receive a decent conclusion during the season finale, once Mister Sinister and the other X-Men also arrived there.

In "Whatever it Takes", Jean detects the return of the Shadow King from the Astral Plane where Xavier imprisoned him years earlier. The episode mostly focuses on Storm and Rogue, though. I'm not saying it's a bad episode - just that Jean once again isn't featured enough to write an entire paragraph out of it. The episode also continues to build on previous events, in this case Morph's return and lack of control. Logan hasn't given up on his buddy and refuses to do so, tracking him down all over the world trying to help him. The problem is Morph doesn't exactly want his help and there's a cool little scene where he turns into various other characters just to mess with Logan's mind. One of these was Jean, claiming she could never love an animal like him.

Jean joins Rogue and Wolverine on a mission to rescue Gambit in the episode "X-Ternally Yours". The story mostly focuses on Gambit and does a decent job at explaining his past as a member of the Thieves' Guild. Jean is actually the one who saves the others after she uses her powers to telepathically show X-Ternal the truth about the Assassin's Guild trickery.

The season has a lot of stories - including a spotlight episode for Beast, one focused on Logan's past with Department H, another two-part story with Apocalypse and more time-travel shenanigans, to name a few. There's even an appearance from Mojo, which is probably the weakest entry in this season as far as I'm concerned, but ti does have some pretty amusing moments. Jean Grey only gets some short scenes in these episodes, though, not really adding anything memorable to them.

Rogue gets another spotlight episode, cleverly titled "A Rogue's tale", which reveals more about her past and brought Ms. Marvel into animation (Carol Danvers - this was long before she was promoted to Captain Marvel, as you may know her today). Jean also gets in on the action during the fight inside Rogue's mind, between Rogue and Carol.

The second season finale was another two-part story, titled "Reunion". It tied up nicely most of the plots started back in the season premiere. The X-Men arrive in the Savage Land to rescue Xavier but as soon as they loose their powers, they are all captured by Sinister and his minions. Well, all except for Wolverine, who teams up with Ka-Zar to save both his friends and Ka-Zar's people.

Overall I think it's a pretty awesome story, with Sinister continuing his sinister plans to perform experiments on mutants. The various mutates had some nice designs and the Savage Land did provide some nice scenery for the fight scenes. Not surprisingly the X-Men manage to escape and defeat Sinister by the end of the episode. Cyclops manages to injure him with his optic blasts and even blows him to pieces. Jean then used her powers to scatter these pieces across the land, to make sure it will take him a while to pull himself back together again. Obviously this wasn't enough to stop Sinister since he would return later on the show but it was a pretty cool way to deal with him and a nice way to end the season.

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As a whole, the second season of X-Men TAS was cool. I think it had more episodes focused on only some of the members of the team, which was pretty nice. There were lots of sub-plots this time as well, and most of them did get some proper closure. The interactions between the characters continued to be entertaining, but just as in the previous season, not all of the heroes received an equal amount of screen-time. It's understandable, and I realize there's just so much you can do with some of these characters. As far as this retrospective goes, I think Jean was handled fine, even if she didn't exactly get any stand-out moments. The next season would feature her more prominently...

But before I continue with the show's third season, Jean - alongside the other main X-Men on the team - also appeared in a cross-over episode with the Spider-Man animated series which aired around the same time, also on Fox Kids. During it's second season, Spider-Man TAS featured a long-running story-arc titled the Neogenic Nightmare, which included Spidey's transformation into the Man-Spider. A two-part adventure before his transformation guest-starred the X-Men. The episodes in question being titled "The Mutant Agenda" and "Mutants' Revenge". Her voice was provided by Catherine Disher here as well, as all the X-Men's respective voice actors were kept to establish some continuity between the shows. Design-wise, the X-Men look just about the same as on their show, though I think the colors on Spidey's show makes them look better.

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The story sees Spidey asking Xavier for help to prevent his further mutation, but is shocked when he learns that Xavier doesn't cure mutants but helps them live with and control their powers. Beast feels sorry for Spidey and tries helping him, but is captured by his former lab partner Landon who wishes to test out his newest invention to destroy mutants. The plot gets even more complicated once the Hobgoblin and the Kingpin are revealed to be involved, Wolverine fights Spidey after a misunderstanding, and Landon himself is turned into a giant monster that attacks the city, prompting Spidey to team up with the X-Men to stop it. One thing I found particularly interesting was that this episode also revealed more about Beast's origin, something that was never really touched on during X-Men TAS. As for Jean, well she didn't really get to do much here, but considering this was still supposed to be Spidey's show it's sort of understandable. And it was pretty awesome seeing Spidey and the X-Men together in action.

And as long as I'm covering cameos in this part of the retrospective, I'll also mention the Fantastic Four animated series from 1994, which was paired with an Iron Man animated series airing in syndication inside a block named The Marvel Action Hour. During it's second and improved season, the Fantastic Four show had cameos from lots of other characters from the Marvel Universe, not to mention their more memorable guest-stars. In "Nightmare in Green", which offered us a pretty awesome Thing versus Hulk fight, but also cameos from a few characters like Scarlet Spider, the Juggernaut or the X-Men (in their civilian outfits).

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Juggernaut's appearance here actually places the events seen in this episode somewhere in the middle of the third season of X-Men TAS... which I'll cover in the next part of this retrospective. Next: The Phoenix Saga!
 

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Season three of X-Men: TAS kicked off with another two-part story, "Out of the Past", which introduced an alien creature which absorbed the spirits of anyone it touched. The episode served as a nice prologue for the things to come, such as lots of alien races and cosmic adventures which to be honest got boring after a while. The story ends with a special mention that the Phoenix Saga will be starting soon. Thus, Jean Grey would be a central character this season.

The five-part Phoenix Saga event was a pretty faithful adaptation of the comics written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Dave Cockrum and John Byrne. The X-Men team roster varied a little between the comics and the cartoon version, but no really drastic changes were made as far as I can tell. The story plays out nicely though like I said it had some tedious moments along the way.

The story begins with Xavier tormented by some mysterious visions which convince him to send his X-Men to replace the astronaut crew preparing to blast off to a space station. This leads to the X-Men encountering and fighting Erik the Red, an emissary of the alien race the Shi'ar, and get mixed up in an alien conspiracy plot. On their way back to Earth, Jean Grey uses her powers to learn all Doctor Corbeau knows (including how to pilot the shuttle), believing her psychokinetic shield could protect her from the space radiation. The others stayed in the portion of the shuttle that was still shielded, though there were some neat scenes with Cyclops and Wolverine refusing to let her do all this alone.

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In Part Two, their shuttle crash lands in the New York harbor, but Jean arises wearing a new outfit and declares herself the Phoenix, shortly afterwards she just faints and pretty much spends the rest of the episode on a hospital bed. Things would just continue to get more and more confusing by the end of the story. For example, an alien probe unleashes Xavier's dark side, which attacks the other X-Men until it is defeated by Jean and the Phoenix Force.

In Part Three, Xavier believing he's going insane seeks the help of Doctor Moira McTaggert but ends up meeting the woman he saw in his visions, who turns out to be Lilandra, Empress of the Shi'ar. She's come to Earth wishing to protect the magical M'Kraan Crystal from her tyrannical brother D'Ken. Black Tom Cassidy and the Juggernaut were hired to capture her, though the alien Gladiator arrives and fights them off. In a pretty cool scene he just throws the Juggernaut into the ocean, something which will be alluded to again in a latter episode (as well as in an episode of Fantastic Four: TAS, as mentioned in the previous part!). Jean Grey once again becomes the Phoenix and arrives in time to defeat the Gladiator and save her team-mates.

Part Four complicates things even further, with the introduction of the Starjammers - a band of space pirates lead by Corsair. Phoenix teleports most of the X-Men aboard Lilandra's ship, where they are attacked by the pirates who manage to steal the Crystal and even kidnap Cyclops. In a twist faithful to the comics, Jean reads Corsair's mind and learns that he's actually Cyclops' father, though this won't be actually revealed to anyone else for quite a while. There are some neat scenes between the father and son interacting, not knowing their connection. Their relationship would be revealed later this season, in the "Orphan's End" story.

The final part of the animated Phoenix Saga features a decent enough conclusion to the story. Jean tries absorbing the powers of the M'Krann Crystal which D'Ken used to re-create the Universe. Lots of natural disasters occur on Earth in the mean-time, with a lot of its heroes (including Spider-Man!) getting some short scenes saving the day. I think I would have enjoyed seeing more of this instead of the Phoenix Saga which got just too confusing and boring at this point.

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There's a pretty awesome and emotional scene where Jean says goodbye to everyone, it's somewhat cheesy but fairly well done. Also worth mentioning is her speech about which qualities to choose from her friends, as she takes the Crystal into the heart of the sun, where she'll keep it safe, wanting to be sure it won't be used again. Basically, she sacrificed herself to save everyone else. I thought the short talk between Xavier and Cyclops about how the Phoenix represents hope was a pretty great way to end the episode.

Interestingly enough, an entire episode showing the aftermath of all this was planned to air shortly after but because of difficulties in its production it only aired in the show's fifth season. Watching it now in its proper place following Jean's sacrifice at the end of the Phoenix Saga makes more sense and I think has a bigger impact. The episode in question is titled "No Mutant is an Island", and shows how the X-Men, especially Cyclops, deals with the loss. The story isn't that special (though it featured the Purple Man's first animated appearance), but the ending does reveal that Jean has in fact survived the events of the previous episode and has returned to Earth.

This leads into the Dark Phoenix Saga, another four-part event based on the comic story-line from the 1970s. Jean has been moved to Muir Island where she's being studied by Xavier and McTaggert because the Phoenix Force apparently has not left her body. Phoenix still uses Jean - its mind becomes dominant and through jean's body it experiences sensations never felt before. To make things even more interesting, the so-called Inner Circle Club (which you may know from the comics, as the Hellfire Club) wishes to add Jean as their newest member. Their most powerful telepaths, Emma Frost and Jason Wyngrade use their powers to attack Jean's mind and create illusions to make her believe what they want, and manipulate her into becoming the Club's Black Queen. However Jean apparently shares a psychic link with Scott, which makes controlling her harder.

In the second part of the story, she has been kidnapped by the Club, tricked into marrying Wyngrade and turns into the Phoenix to attack her friends who came to rescue her. She does manage to break free from under Wyngrade's control and becomes the Dark Phoenix, wishing to experience new sensations, most of them destructive. I found the X-Men's fight with the Inner Circle Club members more entertaining than the stuff going on with Jean, to be honest. Also somewhat note-worthy is the fact both Jean Grey and Emma Frost wear some pretty interesting outfits in these episodes. It's a little surprising they managed to feature that kind of stuff in the cartoon.

Part Three has a cool fight scene between Dark Phoenix and the X-Men, showing just how powerful it is and not holding back this time either. Jean keeps switching between personalities, and as the Phoenix she even flies off into space and destroys an uninhabited star system. As Jean, she runs back to her home. A less impressive feat but kind of understandable. The X-Men try using a mind scrambling device to remove the Phoenix Force from Jean, which backfires and leads to a neat scene where Jean begs Wolverine to kill her while she's still in control. Obviously Logan isn't able to grant her wish so it is up to Xavier to battle the Phoenix inside Jean's mind, where he manages to contain it, with Jean's help. Everything seems alright until the Shi'ar return, and decide that Jean has to be destroyed. A neat cliff-hanger ending.

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The final part of the Dark Phoenix Saga sees the X-Men again in outer space, this time competing against Lilandra's Imperial Guard to settle Jean's fate. The fights are cool but predictable enough, only Jean and Cyclops are left standing in the final round. When Scott's injured Jean unleashes the Dark Phoenix again to protect him, though in the process destroys pretty much everything in her path. Xavier orders his X-Men to attack her while she's still not fully powered-up, though they can't accomplish this feat. Jean then activates the Shi'ar weapons herself and makes them fire on her location, basically committing suicide. Though afterwards the Phoenix Force, now free once again, restores Jean's life by taking a little from each one of the other X-Men.

Jean also appeared briefly in most of the other episodes this season, but didn't really do much compared to these episodes where the stories focused mainly on her. All things considered, this season was pretty good - it tried to adapt some well-known epic story-lines from the comics and it worked for the most part. The stories sadly have some boring moments as I feel they are dragged out for too long, and sometimes are overly complicated. But, they're still kind of fun to watch. Next time: Continuing to chronicle Jean's appearances on X-Men: TAS!
 
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RoyalRubble

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The fourth season of X-Men TAS continued to offer some pretty cool stories, as well as develop some of the stories already started in previous seasons. It also offered some more character development for some of the heroes. Jean did not get many chances to do much on the show after the Phoenix Saga, but would continue to appear quite frequently in the show's final two seasons. Probably the most intriguing story during season four was the "Beyond Good and Evil" four-part arc, where Apocalypse forms alliances with some of the other villains, planning on kidnapping all the world's telepaths and taking them to the Axis of Time.

At the start of the story, we also get to see Jean and Scott's real wedding, after the trick pulled in season two. All is well until they are attacked by Mister Sinister and his Nasty Boys (again...) who kidnap Jean. The story gets more complicated by once again introducing lots of time-travel elements, like Bishop who actually ends up spending most of the arc trying to find his way inside the Axis of Time. Then there's his sister Shard, who helps the X-Men in present day keep the other telepaths safe, and Cable who leads to a neat little side-mission to Egypt where they try to destroy Apocalypse's Lazarus Chamber.


I admit the story got kind of boring at times and Apocalypse's master plan didn't make much sense to me but it was pretty awesome seeing all of these characters get into fights as the story progressed. Just about all the characters that appeared on the show at that point returned in this arc and got the chance to participate in some pretty cool scenes. Unfortunately the character this retrospective is all about spent most of the episodes as one of Apocalypse's prisoners. The ending is a nice moment with all the mutant telepaths teaming up to use their powers in order to banish Apocalypse from the Axis of Time (supposedly, outside it he would cease to exist). It's not very well explained but it was nice to watch and a decent enough conclusion to the arc. From what I understand this was actually intended to act as a series finale, though the cartoon continued to air and even received another season afterwards.

Other note-worthy things about this season would include Magneto's plan to inaugurate Asteroid M as a sanctuary for mutants (in the two-part "Sanctuary" story), Morph's brief return to the team ("Courage"), Xavier fighting the Shadow King on the Astral Plane ("Xavier Remembers"... and well, Jean helped out too, in their fight) and the debut of Magneto's children Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch ("Family Ties"). There's even a special Christmas episode ("Have Yourself a Morlock Little X-Mas"), which gets a little silly and cheesy at times but I think it's a pretty fun adventure overall (Regarding Jean, she spends most of her screen-time in this episode arguing with Gambit over which one gets to cook the Christmas dinner - pretty exciting stuff, right?)

X-Men TAS' fifth and final season was also fun, and it's worth mentioning that the last few episodes were animated by a different studio and they look a lot better than what was seen on the show previously. As far as Jean Grey is concerned, there aren't really any episodes focused on her, or where she did anything too memorable this season. Although going by their original air dates, this season included the "No Mutant is an Island" episode which I mentioned in the previous part of this retrospective, since it was meant to act as an epilogue of sorts to the first Phoenix Saga.

Among the episodes with new character designs and better animation featured this season, we also got an episode simply titled "Descent", which tried offering some back-story to Mister Sinister's obsession with Jean Grey. Set mostly in England's Victorian Era, the episode revealed how Nathaniel Essex turned into Sinister and how an ancestor of Xavier tried stopping him. It's a pretty nice and surprising story, and it was great to learn more about Sinister and his connection to the Grey and Xavier families.

The season had some good stories, like Nightcrawler learning the truth about his family ("Bloodlines"), Apocalypse's return ("The Fifth Horseman"), or a Wolverine and Captain America team-up set in World War II ("Old Soldiers"). There were some less than stellar episodes too, unfortunately, like the one with Mojo's return ("Longshot"), or the one with Jubilee telling a fairy-tale to some kids ("Jubilee's Fairytale Theatre" - where Jean is the princess in the story). But I think the series finale more than made up for all that.

The series ended with "Graduation Day", an episode which sees Xavier severely injured and dying, and the X-Men (and even Magneto!) trying to cope with all this. Xavier is eventually healed by Lilandra, though he must leave and go with her to the Shi'Ar Empire to be completely cured. This leads to a pretty awesome and emotional moment, with Xavier saying goodbye to his X-Men. He has a little speech ready for each one of them, but since this thread is supposed to mostly focus on Jean Grey, I'll only quote his farewell to her.

Xavier: "Jean, first in my heart. Your courage allowed you to see things no other human ever has, yet remain the same innocent child I met so very long ago."

As a whole, this X-Men animated series was pretty awesome. It has not aged that well in terms of animation and some of the stories are a little too complicated (mostly the time-travel ones), and some of the arcs get kind of boring as they play out, but I still enjoy the show a lot and I don't really see that changing anytime soon. Obviously I can also appreciate the newer X-Men cartoons or movies but I will probably always have a soft spot for this original show. As for Jean - well, she was used pretty well over the course of the show but never really had the same charm some of the other characters had. She basically had an entire season dedicated to her, which granted I did enjoy, but things got a little boring along the way. Still, pretty good stuff.

Next stop: X-Men Evolution!
 
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RoyalRubble

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It's been 3 years since the last post, but with the release of the live-action Dark Phoenix, I figured it would be the best time to update this thread. While these articles may not be as detailed or well-written as some of my previous retrospectives (due to various reasons, including but not limited to time constraints), I hope you will still enjoy reading through them. And keep in mind these are just my opinions. Feel free to share your own thoughts, comments or even point out any possible errors in my write-ups below! Updates will be posted weekly, if everything goes well. I am still not finished writing this, so there might be another, shorter break after a couple of more articles are posted.

Interestingly enough, all of the shows I sill have to cover in this retrospective are a few years old, with Jean Grey's most recent appearance in animation being from 2012. She has not been featured in any cartoons in quite some time, but the same could be said about pretty much all of the other X-Men related characters, save from maybe Wolverine but even he has kind of disappeared in the last 5 years or so. I imagine things will change eventually, and these characters will return to animation some way or another, but until then...

X-Men: Evolution premiered in November 2000, originally airing on Kids' WB. On this show most of the characters were de-aged, and turned into teenagers. The show loosely followed the comic book stories and pretty much created an entire new universe for these characters. For the most part it was pretty good, though it took a while for the show to "evolve" and reach this status. Jean Grey was one of the main characters, and her voice was provided by Venus Terzo. Her design looks pretty nice, but then again I always thought the character designs for this show were quite good, and the show is one of the more visually appealing Marvel cartoons. She was featured in most of the episodes, and as such had a decent amount of screen-time, and some development as well. For example, still learning how to control some of her powers, eventually even becoming sort of a mentor to even younger students at the X-Mansion. Seeing as Jean was present just about all the time throughout the show, I will try and only focus on her more notable roles during this retrospective.


Jean made her debut along with most of the other main characters in the series premiere, titled "Strategy X". She gets a decent enough introduction, and uses her powers fairly well notably in a scene where she saves Nightcrawler from the Danger Room's defense systems. Her potential relationship with Scott Summers is also alluded to, which makes sense both because it is somewhat of a staple for these characters, but also because the show was kind of more aimed at presenting teen drama (only you know, with super-powers in there), especially in the first season. As a neat and kind of welcome addition, Wolverine is not really younger in this series and as a result there's no love triangle between Jean, Scott and Logan. The latter does seem to care for her, but as he cares for the other kids too, and not in a romantic way.

In "Mutant Crush", Fred Dukes (a.k.a. the Blob), also re-imagined as a teenager is introduced and as the title would suggest, he develops a crush on Jean. When she doesn't seem interested in him romantically, he does the most logical thing he could think of, he kidnaps her. The other X-Men save her, but she did manage to use her powers to escape herself, anyway. Blob's crush seems to have vanished after the beating he received here, since it was never really brought up again. To be fair, I didn't really miss it and I kind of doubt it would have added much to the show. Blob did appear throughout the rest of the show, as a member of the Brotherhood of Mutants, pretty much rivals of the X-Men for most of the show's run.

The season one finale was a two-part story titled "The Cauldron", where Magneto organizes battles between his followers and the X-Men, to see which ones are the strongest, and who will then join him in his sanctuary, Asteroid M. Jean wins her fight with Toad (big surprise), in a pretty amusing quick scene. The story also introduces Scott's long-lost brother, Alex (a.k.a. Havok from the comics), who joins Magneto and manages to convince Scott to join them for a while. Magneto uses a machine to augment mutant powers, but also messes with their minds a little, making them his acolytes. Jean manages to help Scott snap out from under Magneto's control by the end of the story, though. I can't really do the story justice by mainly focusing on Jean's few appearances, but this will have to do. Overall, a pretty good season but there weren't that many great moments. Things would improve slowly but steadily in the next season. As for Jean, she did get some decent scenes and she was handled well enough in these episodes, I suppose.

The second season started out a little slow, somewhat similar to the previous one, but by the end things became a lot more exciting. A few more sub-plots were brought in this season, as well. The romance sub-plot regarding Jean and Scott continued for the most part, though it took a while to get them together, especially considering each one was kind of in a relationship with someone else at the time. Jean was also presented as the star striker of high school soccer team, and they even won the championship, but their trophy would later need to be removed after she was revealed to be a mutant (more on this in the next part of this retrospective). The stories were for the most part pretty good, and as I said, became more interesting towards the end. Some episodes are a little lame overall but they still have some decent stuff in them and I did like the character interactions, for the most part.

In "Power Surge", Jean's powers develop greatly and she is unable to control them and as such she hears everyone's thoughts even when she doesn't want to, and her telekinetic powers cause some havoc around her. Scott is the one who reaches out to her, sort of a reversal of what happened in the season one finale, and is also a pretty good starting point for their relationship. Plus, the episode is just a good showcase for Jean's powers.

Jean forms an all-girl vigilante team called the Bayville Sirens in the episode titled "A Walk on the Wild Side". Her recruits include Shadowcat, Rogue, Boom Boom and Magma. It's kind of a silly episode overall but it's entertaining enough. There's even a musical montage with the girls dancing, if you're interested in that kind of thing.

"Mindbender" introduces Mesmero, who mind-controls Jean into stealing some ancient artifacts for him. It's another one of those episodes that shows how dangerous Jean could be if she used her powers for evil, but it's pretty good overall. The story is intriguing enough and is a nice prologue to the Apocalypse story-arc that would be featured later on the show.

The second season finale was another two-part story, titled "Day of Reckoning", which kind of changed the show's course drastically and for the better. A lot of things happened here - the Sentinels were introduced, the world found out about mutants (and pretty much learned the X-Men's real identities), and Magneto is apparently killed off, to name a few. There are a lot of cool action scenes, as well. Jean is handled well I suppose, but it's easy to loose track of her with all of the stuff going on. There's also the big reveal about Mystique pretty much manipulating the X-Men by posing as Professor X for a few episodes, which I thought was pretty clever and very unexpected, at least when I first watched these episodes.


All in all, the second season improved the show quite a bit. The last few episodes brought in some interesting changes and also planted the seeds for future story-lines. The teen drama angle is still present occasionally, but reduced significantly compared to the beginning. It's more of an actual super-hero show now and things would continue to improve by the end of the series' run. To quote Mystique's final line this season, "and now things are about to get much worse". Well, in a way things would only get better as the show would be more exciting and entertaining now. But maybe that's just my opinion. I realize this thread is supposed to mainly talk about Jean Grey's roles but given an X-Men series usually means an ensemble cast, I think some of these other details were needed as well. Jean's appearances have been pretty good up to this point. My favorite Jean-centric story from the episodes covered above was probably "Mindbender", but in hindsight that might mostly be because of Apocalypse's story later on the show.

Next: Jean Grey on X-Men: Evolution! (continued)
 

RoyalRubble

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Season three of X-Men: Evolution continued where the show left off, with the world now knowing and fearing mutants, which leaves the heroes in a pretty awkward position. As I mentioned in the previous article, I think this is where the show really turned around and became closer to what I feel like an X-Men story should be. The persecution angle in regards to people who are different is brought up, with emphasis on the classic "people fear what they don't understand" plot point. It's not as dramatic as say, the 90s X-Men: TAS, but it gets the point across rather nicely. Despite all hardships, the X-Men continue doing their job, and protect the world from various threats. Which kind of explains the title of the episode "The Stuff of Heroes", where they are hunted by the army but decide to go and fight Juggernaut, despite Logan's orders. It's a neat moment where Cyclops stands up to him and reasons he trained them well enough for this, and they're ready for the mission. With Scott now a little more developed, his relationship with Jean would also grow nicely over the next few episodes. The fight with Juggernaut also offers some pretty cool scenes, and also results in the heroes learning Xavier's whereabouts (as mentioned before, Mystique has been impersonating him for a while).


"Mainstream" does go back to a high school setting for the most part, but it's different than how most of the earlier episodes played out. With the X-Men's real identities now exposed, even attending Bayville High school is a problem for them. This also results in the potential love interests for Jean and Scott not being interested in them anymore (though in Jean's case, Duncan was interested in using her powers to cheat on exams and stuff). The sports award Jean won for the school is also getting revoked, with the belief that she may have used her mutant abilities to obtain it in the first place. Xavier lets Jean speak in front of an audience at school to make them understand and accept mutants back in the school. It seems to have worked, apparently she convinced the people present with her sincerity. Of course, I think the other X-Men fighting the Brotherhood of Mutants outside the building and saving innocent bystanders, also helped.

Jean and Scott's relationship develops even more in the episode titled "Blind Alley". In this story Mystique wants revenge on Scott, so he takes away his glasses and leaves him stranded in the dessert. I thought this was a pretty clever idea, and while the episode doesn't really have any grand-scale fights or anything, does deliver some pretty good moments. Seeing Scott try and cope with his situation was handled well enough, and by the end of the episode Jean rescues him, and they pretty much officially become a couple.

"Under Lock and Key" continued the Apocalypse story-arc. The X-Men are joined by Angel as they try and stop Mesmero from obtaining another ancient artifact. Magneto is also determined to stop Mesmero, though using his own methods. The episode also has an homage to the original five X-Men from the comics (which as we all know, included Jean Grey), with her, Angel, Beast, Cyclops and Iceman being the members chosen for this mission. They each use their powers rather well, either against Magneto and his acolytes, or trying to stop a giant magic spider. In the end, Magneto is the one who unknowingly actually helps Mesmero get even closer to his goal of freeing Apocalypse.

The third season finale was another two-part story, this time titled "Dark Horizon". The main cast of X-Men are finally graduating high school, but their graduation ceremony ends when Magneto attacks. Rogue is revealed to be under Mesmero's control (similar to how Jean was in the previous season), and was forced to absorb other mutants' powers which would help revive Apocalypse. The X-Men are joined by Magneto and his team and travel to Egypt, where they try to stop Apocalypse's return. Ultimately, they fail to do so, which sets up the final season of the show. I can't really do these episodes justice with this short review, as they're pretty awesome overall and some of my favorites from the show - as I mentioned before, I thought the Apocalypse arc was one of the best things from this series. There are plenty of smaller plots, or character interactions that show how much most of the cast has developed at this point. And it's all handled in a pretty great way, making things very entertaining. In hindsight, the ending to this season kind of feels similar to the way Avengers: Infinity War ended (no spoilers are necessary here, I think), but there must be more examples like this out there.


Apocalypse's arc continued during the fourth and final season of X-Men: Evolution for the most part, but the season also featured a few more smaller stories that again helped develop some of its characters. The Brotherhood of Mutants gets to be in the spotlight again in "No Good Deed", which is a pretty good showcase for most of the mutants' powers. Including Jean, who for example manages to stop two trains from colliding. In "Target X", Jean and Scott start working as instructors at the Xavier Institute, teaching younger mutants. In "Sins of the Son", she is captured by Xavier's son. The episode is notable for introducing the character of Legion to animation, a character who currently has his own live-action TV series (but I never watched a full episode of the show).

The series finale was yet another two-part story, titled "Ascension". It's also the culmination of the Apocalypse arc, with him beginning his plan to turn all the humans in the world into mutants - but some might not survive the process. Xavier decides to go and confront Apocalypse himself, despite Jean's protests and predictions that it won't end well. She was right, as Xavier is apparently destroyed by Apocalypse, but is in reality turned into one of his Horsemen, alongside Magneto (who was similarly thought to be destroyed), Mystique and Storm. The X-Men are joined by most other mutants that have appeared on the show before, and they set out to stop this new threat. Seeing how many of them they are and how the enemies are spread over the world, it only made sense to split up in smaller teams. As such, Jean was paired with Boom-Boom, Colossus, Magma and Multiple Man and travel to Egypt once again, where they go up against Xavier. Jean tries reasoning with her mentor but since she cannot reach out to him, is forced to use the Cerebro helmet to increase her powers and even the odds. There are a lot of cool moments in this finale. As before, I won't try to dwell on too many of the details, but when you have this many mutants in the same place, and going up against mind-controlled former allies, you can expect a lot of action. In the end, Apocalypse is defeated by the combined efforts of Rogue and Leech.

The story ended with one of Xavier's speeches, proclaiming that whatever the future would bring, his X-Men will be ready. As a bonus of sorts, we get some glimpses into the future (thanks in part to Xavier reading Apocalypse's mind). As such we see that anti-mutant demonstrations would continue, new Sentinels would be built, Magneto might join the X-Men and help train new recruits, etc... and one quick scene of Jean becoming the Dark Phoenix. The show ended before any of these moments could be expanded on, though I feel like it works better as an epilogue of sorts (for lack of a better word), than just teasers for the next season or something along those lines. I think the show ended on a good note, and I doubt a continuation would even be considered at this point. In a way it is kind of funny Jean didn't become the Phoenix on the show, yet I am posting these reviews as the Dark Phoenix movie is now in cinemas. But there will be more animated Phoenix action in the next article...


All things considered, X-Men: Evolution had a pretty great run. As I mentioned before, it started out kind of slow, but as it progressed it improved a lot and by the end things were very entertaining. The show managed to cover quite a lot of stuff during its run. The mutants fighting for acceptance angle that should be present in most X-Men stories, the Apocalypse arc, Sentinels, the Jean & Scott romance and a bunch of other stuff I am probably forgetting at the moment. Some of these episodes included pretty awesome moments, helped in part by the character designs and animation, which I think help make it stand out from the previous X-Men: TAS. Most of the characters received some nice development along the way, and for the most part they were likeable enough. As for Jean Grey, she was a good enough character and an integral part of the show. She didn't exactly have that many episodes focusing on her, but she was present in most of the stories anyway, and she did get quite a few chances to shine. There's really not a whole lot to discuss about Jean's portrayal on the show, but I believe I have covered most of the important bits of trivia that needed to be included in such a retrospective.

Next Time: Wolverine & the X-Men!
 

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