Hope Summers, the savior of mutantkind. Jean Grey, pulled from the past to be the rising star she never had a chance to be. But somewhere in between them, perhaps the redheaded powerhouse of mutant kind has been forgotten —Rachel Summers the time lost daughter of a Scott Summers and Jean Grey from the Days of Future Past storyline.
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Since her somewhat cryptic introduction in DoFP (see some of why here ), and her full introduction in New Mutants #18, Rachel literally hit the ground running…from Nimrod. (Rachel’s history is rather long and convoluted, Excalibur #52 explained most of it.)
Rachel was originally introduced as a telekinetic/telepath like her mother with the added ability to astrally “time slip,”though her powers have fluctuated. Shortly after her arrival in the “main”timeline (Earth-616), Rachel adopted the mantle of the Phoenix. She rarely used her time manipulation powers, with a few notable exceptions, including a few times when she combined it with the Phoenix Force to physically project her body as well as her astral form. Mostly these days, she’s the token redheaded telekinetic/telepath of the Jean Grey school. Every team has to have one you know, but only one at a time (Notice Rachel was gone most of the time that the O5 Jean was there, and Rachel didn’t rejoin X-men until after Jean’s death.)
In her days as the Phoenix, Rachel took on the likes of the Beyonder and Galactus making her a warrior on a cosmic scale. Rachel had her share of struggles with the power and with the X-men’s concerns with her ability to handle it (Wolverine stabbed her through the heart and lungs when he felt she had lost control).
Through the years Rachel grew from an angry bitter child thrust into a position of power in the X-men into a fully confident woman and wielder of cosmic power with Excalibur. We (and she) learn at some point that she herself is somehow “unique”across timelines, whether due to her own time slipping powers or some connection with the Phoenix is unclear.
Since then, Marvel has seen fit to fling Rachel to the far future to resolve the Askani origin story and remove the Phoenix from her. Deposited back into a future where Jean Grey is once again deceased and Cyclops taken up with Emma Frost, Rachel again found herself on rocky ground, with the added complication that the Shi’ar massacred the entire Grey family line. Rachel took off to avenge her family, took on the name “Grey”and “Marvel Girl”to honor them and her mother, and seemed to reconcile at least to some extent with Scott Summers.
Now returned to Earth, Rachel’s behavior has been to say the least “odd”and Marvel doesn’t seem to know what to do with her. Her departure from Utopia during Schism was one of the most puzzling and least expounded on. Rachel is from a post-apocalyptic future where Sentinels really did come for children supposedly protected in a peaceful school. And while her old animosity with Storm as fallout from the Beyonder incident seems to take center stage in X-men, she seems all too happy to follow a man whose answer to her growing powers was to stab her in the heart, straight to a school full of children with unknown potential.
In the last two major “X”-overs, her behavior has been something of a pattern. Rachel objects to concerns about Hope due to her own experiences with the Phoenix and helps Cyclops by misleading her own team, but does nothing while Wolverine repeatedly tried to take Hope’s life. She similarly doesn’t seem to try to stop Cyclops from ignoring what Hope wants or even really try to advise him on how to help her control it. Wolverine is living at a school with the only living person that has housed the Phoenix, and for the longest amount of time, but neither he or the Avengers seem to think much of her counsel. He’s convinced he understands it better than anyone else, including Rachel. In Battle of the Atom, again Rachel, the only person around who is an actual time traveler, seems to be left completely out of the loop, especially after she (once again) sides with Cyclops over the position on the original five. She’s the first to mistrust the Brotherhood when they come posing as the X-men, but it takes Wolverine’s misgivings for action.
So where does this leave our oft-neglected redhead? Rachel’s “uniqueness”across reality has yet to be explored. Why has Rachel not sided with Cyclops fully? She seems to support his position and aids him openly or covertly often, does she remain as a spy? Is it some unresolved conflict with him over Xavier’s death? Is it Emma’s presence? Or something more? Why do Storm and Wolverine continue to allow her to stay at the JGS? She openly rebels and aids someone that both of them have abandoned as lost? Is Rachel just a placeholder telepath that fills a niche when there isn’t a Jean Grey around, or is she her own person. We knew who Rachel Summers was, and so did she. For too long Rachel has been relegated to the side and ignored. She wasn’t just “Jean Grey’s daughter”and she’s not just “Marvel Girl Lite.” It seems that a time traveler from a future where mutants were slaughtered wholesale would be the person fighting the hardest to keep mutants working together and fighting to survive not bickering with each other. Rachel should be on the front lines trying to end the divide, she’s seen the best and worst of the X-men and she’s watched them all die. Since her return from the Shi’ar though, we’ve only seem glimpses of her, the occasional rebellion, perhaps the echo of a stance, but we can’t really tell —In short— who is Rachel Grey? I don’t know, but I would love to find out.
Christina Hamlet:Mathematician by day, veteran geek by night. I love all things X-men related with a particular, and perhaps overzealous, love of the Summers family and their ongoing drama.