Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Javier Garrón
Cover Artist: Leinil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho
Publisher: MARVEL COMICS
Release Date: March 3, 2021
The Phoenix Force has returned to Earth. Again. However, this time it setup a tournament of some of the Earth’s heroes and villains. The winner will be crowned the new Phoenix Host. The last issue gave readers a slate of fights and a peek into some of the contestants’ heads. Now Avengers #43 shows the penultimate issue before this story arc’s conclusion.
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The story picks up where the last issue left off with Black Panther vs. Wolverine who are infused with the power of the Phoenix Force. The fight between the two is the main battle on display in this comic. It is fine but it doesn’t really have either of them really take advantage of using the Phoenix’s power. If anything, the comic reinforces a problem with this title, which is how Jason Aaron is turning Black Panther into Batman in some of the worst and comedic ways. There is a particular moment in the fight that shows this and will be explained in the spoiler section.
The rest of the fights take a back seat to the premier fight of Black Panther and Wolverine and only last either a page or two. The book also provides narration from the entity itself, which is 50/50 if it will either turn people off or grab their attention. Some of it feels like grand standing on part of the cosmic firebird but it illuminates the nature of the Phoenix Force to new fans.
Speaking of which, the book follows up on the big reveal from the end of the last issue of Thor being the son of Odin and the first Phoenix Host from Earth. The drama and narration from this encounter is pretty much what people would expect and drops another revelation to readers. There is a small exchange between Captain America and Namor, but it’s brief and only re-establishes the shaky ground their relationship is in. From there, the book sets up the final round of the Phoenix tournament as well as the next issue’s premier fight.
Avengers #43 Spoilers:
Previously, I said that the fight between Black Panther and Wolverine was fine and how this book really goes the extra mile for T’Challa and almost makes him like Batman. Well, one way Aaron does that is by giving T’Challa a vibranium grill in his teeth. I’m not kidding. Apparently, T’Challa laced his teeth with vibranium, Wakandan tech. This comes up while they’re fighting. Wolverine has him for the count with his claws right below his head for the kill. Logan demands T’Challa surrender or he pops his middle claw right through his jaw. But T’Challa says he would block it with his teeth and the comic even gives a close-up grin of the teeth. You can’t miss it.
It just feels like something out of a “Batman can do anything because he prepares for everything” kind of mindset but with Black Panther. Only comedically worse. I honestly don’t know how readers will take this, but I know plenty will be laughing at it. Even though the issue is setting up Cap against T’Challa, I’m very confident that T’Challa will win knowing this comic’s track record. Jason Aaron has had Black Panther win just about every fight or confrontation in the comic series. This will not be any different.
Now, the big Thor revelation. Apparently, Odin and Aaron’s Phoenix Host were definitely a couple and she was Thor’s true mother. Not Freyja, not Gaea. Her. It was all a lie to get Thor to be a protector of Earth, something Odin wouldn’t be anymore. Not only that, the issue reveals the real reason the Phoenix Force is on Earth is so that the first host can see Thor. Maybe even make him the Phoenix Host. However, the Phoenix Force is fighting her and doesn’t want to have this connection, so it wants its next host to burn away this “mother’s love” away from it.
I’m calling it now: the Red Widow will be the new Phoenix host. I’ve had my eyes on her from the moment she was introduced to the tournament. Jason Aaron loves to use his new Marvel characters and it seems like he’s been playing the long game with her, setting her up as the next big threat in the background that the Avengers haven’t been paying much attention to.
The Phoenix tournament’s penultimate issue continues with the premier fight that may create some unexpected reactions in readers. It definitely focuses on the fights readers are looking forward to. The big revelation with Thor is about as well as readers might expect. If you’re not a fan of Jason Aaron’s changes to Thor’s comic history, then this will be one more thing to add.