Who will wield the power of The Phoenix? Your Major Spoilers review of Avengers #41 from Marvel Comics awaits!
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Javier Garron
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 20, 2021
Previously in Avengers: Who will wield the power of the Phoenix Force? A globe-spanning tournament is underway, under the direction of the firebird itself, pitting some of Marvel’s greatest heroes against their fiercest enemies and also against each other, giving each of them a taste of the awesome cosmic might that’s at stake. All will be transformed. Not all will survive.
A CONTEXT OF CHAMPIONS
The Black Panther opens this issue, having been sent by The Phoenix Force to the spiritual plane, within view of his homeland of Wakanda… but still just out of reach. He is forced to battle a Phoenix-imbued Man-Thing, knowing that whatever knows fear burns at its touch. Fortunately, he doesn’t know much in that department. Once he returns to the void, Wolverine explains that they’re within the Phoenix Force itself, and that they shouldn’t be there. Moreover, if anyone tries to take the power, he promises to stab them… even Moon Girl. The battles continue: Luke Cage versus American Eagle. Shanna the She-Devil versus Devil Dinosaur. Valyrie versus The Orb. Shang-Chi versus Hyperion (!!). Then, The Red Widow battles Howard The Duck to a seemingly-fatal end, while The Phoenix (or at least the Phoenix wielder from 1,000,000 BC) taunts the Black Panther that it’s actually him that the creature wants, offering to end the battles if T’Challa just becomes a new Phoenix…
DID… DID THEY JUST KILL HOWARD THE DUCK?
Of all this issue’s surprises, the battle between Shang-Chi and a literal superman is my favorite, but the most fascinating comes in the battle between The Black Panther and Nighthawk, wherein they reveal their various machinations in the real world before deciding to smack each other around a bit. As the issue ends, it’s unclear who has one at least some of the battles, but the biggest issue for me is the fact that Namor is about to have his first battle, and he’s intent on winning the Phoenix Force again. Garron’s art is quite good throughout the issue, especially in the redesigned Phoenix-costumes, but the story is constructed in such a way that it’s difficult to tell who won some of the matches. This might be be design, but it causes some confusion/consternation for me as a reader, and while I enjoy the designs, the use of super-bright yellows and golds during the Phoenix battles obscures some of the better moments of the art. Also, if they killed Howard The Duck, we riot.
BOTTOM LINE: THEY’D BETTER NOT HAVE KILLED HOWARD THE DUCK
Avengers #41 is a good issue featuring several different things that constitute “combat”, with really lovely character moments for nearly everyone (and thankfully, no one murdering a fourth-grader), with art that works more often than not and coloring that sometimes overshadows that, earning a better-than-average 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. Aaron’s Avengers feels like it has seven different world-threatening plots in play at all times, and this issue plays with at least four of them, making for a fun, albeit occasionally ambiguous, all-fight show piece comic book.
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This issue is all about the fighting, but the definition of fighting has many subtle shades, and the combatants are truly entertaining matches.
But they better not have killed Howard The Duck.