Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Javi Garron
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 7, 2021
Well, we are finally going to find out who gets the Phoenix Force this issue, people! If I had a soundboard here, I would be hitting the “crickets” right now because I don’t hear anyone down at the local five and dime talking about this book or this story at all. Jason Aaron has given readers a convoluted tournament with few rules, but worse yet, little resolution to each fight. Sure, Javier Garron has had fun drawing up the Phoenix variants of each character, but it’s just eye candy, and after a couple, the fire-based designs just all blend in together. Of course, this can all change with a kickass finale, right? Let’s get to it…
The issue opens with Captain America and Black Panther continuing their fight. It has been pushed throughout this arc that these two are the best choices to control the Phoenix Force, so you know it won’t be either. Still, they debate if the Avengers need a Phoenix on the team, and Aaron ties it back to Tony’s BC Adventure and the cave painting that came from it, but at this point, I want a winner so we can move on. That is not a good feeling a couple of pages in, but I’ve felt this for issues now!!!
We then go around the world to see the other fights, but Aaron uses them to yell out the combatants’ names and descriptions, so we remember who is still fighting and not much more. The colors pop, but it all becomes a mess of fire on fire, and sometimes it’s even hard to recognize who is fighting and what they are doing. Luckily, as I said above, Aaron fixes this a bit by having characters yell names and generic descriptions of themselves and their opponents, but does that make it better?
Jason Aaron set up this whole arc like a video game, so why is it so damn boring? The Phoenix Force is the price, so why is there no tension at all? Besides most of the fights being bullshit, I keep thinking that Aaron is only concerned about giving someone the Phoenix Force but doesn’t care at all how he gets there. Sure, the fighting game concept sounds cool, but either Aaron has only played the shittiest of fighting games (my guess is Kasumi Ninja for the Atari Jaguar), or he figured that Garon’s designs would be enough. Note to Jason Aaron: They are not enough!
So, do we get a new Phoenix? Yep, but I don’t think anyone would have guessed who it would be. I know I didn’t. I mean, it’s probably because I thought the character lost earlier in the tournament, so I guess that’s on me for thinking what I read mattered! Now, it takes a bit of forced exposition to get to it, but that has been the only rule that Aaron has followed since it started!
This story never seemed to get the wow factor going that Jason Aaron must have thought it would get. People complained about it when Marvel announced it, and nobody seemed to care while it was going on. The out of nowhere pick of the new Phoenix ended it all with a huge thud, but I’m glad it’s over. That is the best thing I can say for it, except that I hope this leads to a better story down the line. I don’t hate the character the Phoenix picked, I just hated the way we got there.
Avengers #44 gives us a new Phoenix, and while that’s cool, does anyone even care? This ending and the whole arc felt like a means to an end, but at least it’s over. Jason Aaron seems like he’s in panic mode, turning to spectacle over a story and next up is Heroes Reborn. Hmmm…