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Avengers #41: Review

Jan 2021
Jason Aaron, Javier Garron

Story Name:

Enter the Phoenix part 2: Black flame in the hour of chaos

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #41 Review by (January 22, 2021)
This is what they used to call a Big Battle issue. Or more correctly it's a lot of little battles issue, in the true tradition of Contest Of Champions.

Some chars should definitely be back next issue:-
Black Knight, Captain America, She-Hulk and Wolverine didn't have a bout this time.
Red Widow, Shang-Chi and Valkyrie appeared to win their rounds.

Only 4 chars should definitely be eliminated, so I'd better say what I want to say about them now:-
The current version of Hyperion was invented for this series and that's where he's stayed, except he's just played a cover role in Taskmaster #2.
Howard The Duck, trapped in a world he never made (as they say) since Adventure Into Fear (Man-Thing) #19, has had 6 series of his own, the last of which was probably his 1st app in the post-Secret Wars III universe. Since then he's made multiple apps including the Deadpool The Duck mini-series and several issues of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (2015). His last app before this story-line was Black Cat #9.
Man-Thing himself has been shambling around since Savage Tales #1. He's had 5 series of his own as well as runs in other titles such as AIF and Thunderbolts. It's difficult to pinpoint all his apps because there are other copies of him around. But *a* Man-Thing made a significant app in Savage Wolverine #4 where he played a major role in upgrading Shanna's powers, and in the recent Empyre: Avengers mini-series where the same thing happened to her husband Ka-Zar. the real Thing has recently made apps in the Strange Academy series.
This villainous Orb débuted in Ghost Rider (2006) #26. He always had an eyeball for a head. But in the Original Sin event he stole 1 of the Watcher's eyes and it bonded to him increasing his powers. Lately he returned to GR for a couple of issues of his 2019 series.

There are 4 undecided matches. I'll report on the losers of those next issue:-
Luke Cage vs American Eagle, Agent Of Wakanda
Shanna the She-Devil (and Zabu) vs Devil Dinosaur (without Moon Girl)
Black Panther vs Nighthawk of the Squadron Supreme
Sub-Mariner vs Echo


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #41 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue the Phoenix Force kidnapped (or absorbed) lots of Avengers and others to pit them against each other to see who is worthy to be the Phoenix's new host. The 1st fight was Captain America vs Dr Doom in a part of the Savage Land, and Doom resigned from the game.

This time it's Black Panther's turn, and this issue echoes the beginning of the previous 1 as he imagines how other Avengers would prepare for the fight. And as Cap imagined then, T'Challa does indeed spend the time meditating. The PF has put BP near the Wakandan capital, but he can't go there, and indeed is cut off from from the air of his home and the Djalia spirit plane.

Suddenly his appointed foe Man-Thing erupts from a baobab tree aflame with Phoenix-Fire. The monster reaches out and touches him, but because he is without fear Panther doesn't erupt into flame. He evades Man-Thing's grasp and speaks courteously to the noble guardian of the Nexus Of All Realities. But his mind also speaks to the Phoenix Force as inheritor of the Black Panther power from the 1st BP who stood beside Lady Phoenix in the 1M BC Avengers. He allows the Fire to engulf him also, and so-transformed whittles the vegetable-being to splinters.

Then he is returned to the other contestants in the white space that holds them. They know that the rules will restore the defeated Man-Thing. Jennifer Walters tells him that they've been exploring while he was away but wherever they go they always wind up back where they started. The genius kid Moon Girl posits that it's a dimensionally-transcendental space. Black Knight refuses to fight *her* even if she has Devil Dinosaur as a partner. Echo suggests their captor can hear whatever they say, and indeed read their minds. Valkyrie confirms that they're inside the Phoenix - she was here before when she was the female Thor (in her (2016)#18-19). Wolverine tells them it's called the White Hot Room.

Logan also says he'll kill anyone who tries to become the Phoenix. Steve Rogers points out that nobody's here voluntarily. But Wolvie points out back at him that Sub-Mariner is, he called for the Phoenix Force. Namor erupts in anger and calls out to the Phoenix to tell him who he has to kill to win and he'll do it. Jennifer Walters suggests they all team up to make sure *he* doesn't get the power. And then she She-Hulk's out to attack him. But the Force separates them and picks Luke Cage ...

... who finds himself outside his friend Iron Fist's mystical Himalayan city of K'un-Lun (but presumably unable to enter). His opponent is American Eagle and they are both manifesting their portion of Phoenix power. The proud Navajo is fighting for the Phoenix for his nation as he breaks his knuckles against Luke's invulnerable face.

But it seems the Force has accelerated things by having multiple contests at once.

In the Blue Area of the Moon we see Shanna the She-Devil with Zabu fighting Devil Dinosaur, with no Moon Girl in sight.

In Subterranea Orb, whose head is a large eyeball but also has an eye of the Watcher bonded to him, faces Valkyrie who smashes his 'face' in with a mace.

On Mount Wundagore Hyperion of the Squadron Supreme Of America finds his Phoenix-enhanced super-senses expanding his mind to encompass the universe. But Mephisto's construct has been created to only consider the needs of the USA, and he can't stand to be so open-minded. So he collapses in defeat before Shang-Chi who's just been sitting there meditating.

Red Widow of Russia's Winter Guard and Howard The Duck meet in Dr Strange's kitchen. He figures this'll be better than when he ran for President (in #7-8 of his 1st series and Marvel Treasury Edition #12), but she beats him to a mass of feathers.

The White Hot Room is the home of the Phoenix's previous incarnations. The spirit of Lady Phoenix of the 1M BC Avengers speaks to Black Panther and tells him he could end all this whenever he wants. T'Challa replies that he will end it, but not the way Phoenix wants. Firehair confirms that he is the chosen target, and if he won't accept then the Phoenix will destroy Wakanda. Panther has a counter offer - if the Phoenix will fight in defence of Earth as she has in the past then he will spare her life.

But the Force's response is to send BP to fight again, this time at the Nexus Of All Realities in the Florida Everglades, and his opponent is Hyperion's team-mate Nighthawk. T'Challa taunts him that he knows he is also Congressman Kyle Richmond, Ambassador to Wakanda.  Nighthawk accepts that but says his LMD substitute is even now negotiating stringent tariffs against the country. Panther counters that hacking into such Roxxon technology was easy and the LMD has been subverted. Richmond retorts that this act of cyber-terrorism will finally convince the President to send the Squadron to destroy that evil socialist country. T'Challa gets the last word - Wakanda is so rich they can send an army of lobbyists to convince Congress to block such a move.

With words exhausted they turn to fighting. But Panther is continually conscious that he mustn't give in to the Phoenix. And we leave them there.

Our next scene is of a Wakandan helicarrier which sees the seas above Atlantis on fire. Beneath the waves it's Namor vs Echo, whose Phoenix power is presumably allowing her to breathe underwater. However she's still unfamiliar with fighting in that environment. And that's where we leave the comic.

Javier Garron
Javier Garron
David Curiel
Leinil Francis Yu (Cover Penciler)
Leinil Francis Yu (Cover Inker)
Sunny Gho (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Knight
Black Knight

(Dane Whitman)
Black Panther
Black Panther

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Luke Cage
Luke Cage

(Power Man)

(Jennifer Walters)

(Jane Foster)

(James Howlett)

Plus: American Eagle (Jason Strongbow), Echo (Maya Lopez), Hyperion (of SSOA), Moon Girl, Nighthawk (of SSOA), Phoenix Force, Red Widow, Shanna (Shanna the She-Devil), The Orb.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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