Full disclosure: I haven’t read anything from Marvel besides Iceman in many months. I have no idea what’s happening with the Generations event, and so I’m going into Generations: Jean Grey/Phoenix basically blind.
The one-shot story follows teen Jean Grey as something drags her into the past. There, she meets her past-future self — the original Jean Grey, during her first time as the Phoenix.
I really like this idea, in theory. However, I thought the Phoenix in that period was supposed to not be Jean at all. In the 80s, when Jean came back from the dead, they retconned the Dark Phoenix Saga so that the Phoenix took Jean’s place as Jean recovered from her injuries. While healing, the real Jean lay in stasis in a pod at the bottom of the Hudson River.
In this case, I enjoy Cullen Bunn‘s writing style. That said, he doesn’t seem to understand the Phoenix Force herself. While it could have to do with Jean only hearing from people about the carnage she caused, it continues a trend most recently shown in the Jean Grey solo: where mostly people define the Phoenix by the worst things she did while traumatized, and not as a person.
In my opinion, the Phoenix is not fundamentally evil, or fundamentally doomed. It frustrates me that only I seem to see her differently, because she’s never written as potentially good anymore, only as potentially evil.
As for the art, R.B. Silva, Adriano di Benedetto, and Rain Beredo do a fine job, but there aren’t any really inspired visuals to me. The art does its job, but in my opinion, they could have pushed further, especially during the Phoenix/Space scenes. Additionally, given this crosses over a late-Silver Age story with the modern era, there are lots of ways to play with the inherent visual/style conflicts there.
Overall, I feel this is a generally inoffensive story that will play well for Teen Jean fans, but I don’t recommend it for fans of the Phoenix Force. Better Phoenix stories exist, for sure.