A recent post in the X-Men group on Facebook featured this stunning piece of art, originally a variant cover of Avengers #13. It got me thinking: which of Jean’s costumes do I like the most? And what are your thoughts? I’m only counting in-continuity, non-AU, non-possible future timelines…
1. Classic / All-New X-Men
So, when the X-Men first came onto the stage, Jean was part of a team who were being trained at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Whereas, in modern days, the X-Men all wear individualised costumes to make each one stand out, back in the day they all wore a sort of ‘school uniform’.
Operating under the alias of Marvel Girl, this was Jean’s version – not exactly distinctive, but stylistically reminiscent of other futuristic uniforms from the period, and some more modern returns to the period have redesigned it subtly…
Depending on whether or not you view these comics as canonical, the fashion-conscious Jean may well have played with a few redesigns of her costume… The hair is more startling in this design, but the X worked better really as a belt. Still, it was some time before Jean really got a chance to cut loose!
2. Distinctive costumes of the 1960s
This was the result. In actual fact, hers was the mind behind each and every one of these looks – including her own, which highlighted that she was more into using her powers from a distance than doing anything, ah, physical. In addition, note that this was before she’d learned to levitate, so the miniskirt was at least not-so-revealing if she chose to fly ahead of the team, y’know?
3. Phoenix Era
Technically, Jean Grey didn’t wear this costume until the 1990s – but, since this look was so iconic for Phoenix in the 1970s, I’ve chosen to include it here. It’s the classic Phoenix appearance. Very trendy, energetic, and eye-popping – the colourscheme is reminiscent of the previous Marvel Girl looks, but much more feminine without being slutty. It’s no wonder this is the classic Jean Grey look – even if Phoenix’s costumes did take a darker turn.
This is Phoenix as the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, under the manipulations of Mastermind. It’s essentially a corset, a cape, and a thong. The haircut is really severe so as to emphasise the change in character, with Phoenix seeming much more of a dominating older lady, especially with the black ensemble. It’s really rather wince-worthy, though. You can certainly tell she was moving in the same circles as Emma Frost, mind…
Dark Phoenix, fire incarnate, consuming worlds. In some art-styles, the costume is a tad more body-hugging than the previous Phoenix one; the Phoenix insignia tends to be a bit more dominating, too. It’s a nice design, not least because it twists the traditional Phoenix appearance so effectively. Blood-red showed the darker side, complimenting the fire and fury.
Returned from the dead and working as part of X-Factor, Jean wore the X-Terminators outfit for part of the time, then slipped into variations of the X-Factor kind of outfit. The mask was a nice homage to her original Marvel Girl costume, while the colourscheme tended to shift between green and red a bit.
The most interesting of the X-Factor looks. The costume is rather effective, with high shoulders, the nice design of the ‘X’, and the sleek appearance of the legs.
5. Gold Team and beyond
I make no bones about it, to me this is the classic Jean Grey – the Jean Grey of the Gold Team, a dramatic redesign that proved popular if only because it was also featured in the 1990s X-Men Animated Series.
Curiously, both Scott and Jean were given these costumes by S.H.I.E.L.D., who apparently happened to have them to hand at the time (right down to a ruby-quartz visor for Scott, which beggars belief). It’s reminiscent of her Gold Team outfit, but very different; the asymmetrical design doesn’t really work too well. No wonder Jean ditched it. The colouring around the breasts is rather over-the-top, and the orange is rather too neon, not going well with the nice metallic elements. In reality, Jean went from the Gold Team costume back to the Phoenix, but I’ve already covered that earlier.
For a short time, Jean slipped into this rather different outfit – again, a bit of a homage to the Phoenix Force (I wonder what the Shi’ar would’ve made of that, particularly given the colourscheme!). The Phoenix design isn’t quite so iconic. It was something more of an edgy, dangerous look, compared to the normal sleek appearance – right down to army-type boots with a heel.
In the Morrison era, the X-Men all sort of went dark barely super-heroic costumes – mostly reminiscent of the Movies, a deliberate marketing ploy. This was Jean’s look. The biker-type jacket with gold edgings is effective (and reminiscent, oddly enough, of Nate Grey), but the X-logos are a bit overkill (and why the clashing silver belt-buckle when there’s so much gold on the costume?). The leather jeans work, emphasising the edgier side of Jean – which Morrison would make much of.
6. White Crown of the Phoenix
As any fan of Marvel: Avengers Alliance is aware, the ultimate expression of Jean Grey is as the White Phoenix of the Crown – symbolising perfect balance, a beautiful twist on the various Phoenix outfits of the past. It’s a look that has since been borrowed a number of times (especially during AvX). Frankly, it’s gorgeous. Dominating and powerful, she looks like so much of a balanced character. The edge is still there with the design, but the smooth curves and silky belt-strap still speak of purity.
So here’s the question: which costume do you think is the best..? And please let me know if I’ve missed any!