Age of Apocalypse was a nineties event that plunged the X-titles into a darker universe - one where Charles died in Israel, and Apocalypse took over the world. Magneto and his X-Men did their best to combat him, and they did win that struggle eventually - but at a very high price.
Jean Grey was Magneto’s first recruit after his own children. Eventually, they were joined by Storm, Iceman, Colossus, and finally Weapon X. With no mentors to guide her, Jean’s telepathy was raw and uncultivated, leaving her mind open to all the strife around her.
She still managed to break through Logan’s berserker rage. This connection would ultimately lead to a deep, desperate romance.
While the X-Mens’ first mission - defending Cape Citadel from Apocalypse’s Horseman - was a success, they lost Scarlet Witch in an attack on their own base. This was only the first in a long line of sacrifices.
Years later, in another mission, Jean was captured by Prelate Scott Summers - and the X-Men didn’t save her. It was up to Weapon X to rescue her from Apocalypse’s camps. (Scott, seeing Jean’s dedication to her ideals, had a change of heart himself - but he never got the chance to help her escape. Instead, he lost an eye and Logan lost a hand.)
He and Jean left the X-Men - but not before Jean assured Magneto that she understood his choice, and that she forgave him. They ended up working for the Human High Council in Europe. They were ruthlessly efficient operatives - but when the Council planned to hit North America with a nuclear strike, Jean left to warn all the innocents still there.
Jean may have been worn and hardened by the dystopia her world became, but she never quite lost that fierce, dogged compassion.
She’s captured in the process - but Scott does help her escape, this time, and works with her to free the prisoners. Jean does her best to shield them all from the bombs, but she’s cut down by Havok in the process.
And yet, somehow, everyone was saved anyway. HMMM.
(No, this was not the end of her story, and yes, there will be a second post.)