To celebrate the release of Giant-Size X-Men: Jean Grey and Emma Frost, AIPT proudly presents JEAN GREY + EMMA FROST WEEK – seven days of original articles and interviews about two X-Women so eXtraordinary, they don’t need codenames!
As it’s JEAN GREY + EMMA FROST WEEK here at AIPT, we’re bringing you two special editions of our weekly Judging by the Cover column where we’ll share our favorite Jean and Emma covers of all time! First up, the X-Men’s resident redhead, Jean Grey!
Uncanny X-Men (1963) #48
Cover art by Sal Buscema, John Romita Sr. and Herb Cooper
I’m going to be honest… I’m not sure if all three of those artists actually brought this masterpiece of a cover to life, I just write what the Marvel Database tells me to write. And while I’m being honest… this cover rules! “What waits… within the Hive?” I’ll tell you what–a super-fun story about Cyclops and Marvel Girl battling robots (that I recently gushed about on the Battle of the Atom podcast). This colorful cover is just pure, retro fun, highlighting the types of adventures you don’t see the X-Men going on anymore. If Marvel produced large-scale prints of every one of its covers, I’d be proud to hang this one up on my wall. Beware, haters of Jean’s green skirt!
X-Men (1991) #53
Cover art by Andy Kubert
In the ’90s, Jean Grey didn’t have a codename. She wasn’t as sexy as Psylocke or as cool as Rogue. So naming her a favorite character, at the height of the X-Men cartoon’s popularity, only left your friends perplexed. But then, there were striking covers like this one (and the equally awesome cover to X-Men #28, also by Andy Kubert) that reminded all readers that Jean was the original, badass X-Woman! “Onslaught” may not have aged well, but when it was coming out, each and every chapter seemed like the most important event in comics history–and Jean was right at the center of the action.
Uncanny X-Men (1963) #354
Cover art by Chris Bachalo
This isn’t Uncanny X-Men #354’s main cover, but it’s certainly its best cover! I’ve never been a fan of Jean’s ’90s costume, so when I went to my comic shop and picked up this issue, with Jean in her iconic Phoenix threads on the cover, I had to read it. Remember, at the time… Jean was never Phoenix. Phoenix was Phoenix. Why was she dressed as this controversial, cosmic being who stole so many years of her life and ruined her reputation? She certainly seemed happy against that simple backdrop–should I be happy for her too? And is it weird that I am happy to see her back in this mass murderer’s much cooler costume? No, it’s not weird at all, Chris–it’s just another uncanny Chris Bachalo masterpiece!
Uncanny X-Men (1963) #135
Cover art by John Byrne
Iconic. When you think about Jean Grey, this is almost assuredly the image that pops in your head. “The Dark Phoenix Saga” is more than just the defining story of Jean Grey, it’s one of the benchmark moments for the X-Men–and a large part of it has to do with Byrne’s artwork, which is timeless and beautiful. The man couldn’t help but hit a home run every time he stepped up to the plate. Case in point:
Uncanny X-Men (1963) #137
Cover art by John Byrne
This cover was what initially sold me on the X-Men as a sci-fi action epic. It has all the benchmarks of an awesome pulp book cover. The desperation of our two central figures fending off an unseen but clearly overwhelming opposition from the dark side of the Moon. The subheading of “Phoenix Must Die!” The embrace of our two central figures who are clearly weathered but supporting each other against insurmountable odds. Sure, there’s a bit of cheesecake fan service, which hasn’t aged exceptionally well, but it’s par for the course in the genre and relatively tame. It’s amazing work from Byrne.
Uncanny X-Men (1963) #334
Cover art by Joe Madureira
I couldn’t just pick Byrne covers from “The Dark Phoenix Saga” (although, yeah I could), so I went a new direction with my favorite X-Men penciller of my youth, Joe Mad. It’s a sad truth that, for many years, Jean was relegated to being a den mother. The worrywart staying home while the rest of the team was in the field, acting as mission control and making… well, weird noises. It was in this issue, however, where Jean showed the hell up. Going face to face with the Juggernaut and not batting an eye–showing that she was more than just a weird headband and thigh pads under a mound of red hair. This cover shows her true nature, as someone unafraid to face danger to protect those she cares about. Also because this happened in the pre-Onslaught era and featured Bishop, she didn’t have the stupidest costume on the cover for once!
X-Men: Red #10
Cover art by Jenny Frison
I am quite literally obsessed with this cover. Jenny does SUCH a fantastic job with everything she does, but I am always so impressed with her renditions of Jean. This one caught my eye so quickly and I fell in love with it. It’s spooky, beautiful and has a weird sense of dread in there.
Phoenix Resurrection #5
Cover art by Karmome Shirahama
This cover is so much fun! As a costumer and big fan of Jean and her many (sometimes debatable) outfits, this is gold. I also tend to like art that shows me *more* of a character, or really just another side of them that we don’t always see. I feel like this cover gives us a nice little glimpse into a different side of Jean. I really appreciate seeing all of her costumes just shoved into her closet like that… She’s indecisive and messy and I love it! It makes for a really fun and adorable cover.
X-Men (2019) #1
Cover art by Artgerm
I am so sorry that all of my covers are new ones, but I am just in love with a lot of these newer covers! Big fan of the classics but I am really loving the talent nowadays. Artgerm is someone whose work I really love, but I don’t always love every cover he puts out. This one, though? GORGEOUS. INCREDIBLE. 10/10!!! I mean it when I say that I love everything about it. Jean looks so pure and beautiful and this cover just fills me with a sense of wonder.