“Enter the Phoenix” comes to a fiery conclusion in Avengers #44, and with it emerges a new host for the death-defying cosmic entity.
For the past several issues of Avengers, an extended lineup of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes past and present have been duking it out for the privilege of becoming the next host of the Phoenix Force—an albatross none of them want (well, none of them except Namor, because of course he does). If you haven’t been keeping up with the Phoenix’s latest developments, you might be confused as to why the Avengers, of all people, are involved with it.
To make a long story short, Jean Grey came back to life (again) and expelled the entity from herself permanently. Since then, writer Jason Aaron has incorporated the Phoenix into the mythology of his current Avengers run, establishing its first host as a founding member of the prehistoric proto-Avengers and even revealing that she is Thor’s biological mother. That brings us to the present, which has the Phoenix seeking a new host after the events of the previous “Age of Khonshu” arc, involving a massive tournament-style showdown to determine the winner.
I’m not opposed to having the Phoenix involve itself with other characters outside of Jean Grey, especially now that it seems their long-running ties are permanently severed, but “Enter the Phoenix” has been a little bit of a slog throughout its run. Every issue of the storyline has mostly depicted various characters fighting it out with one another for a reward none of them want, which makes for cool art and interesting matchups but quickly grows tiresome. At a certain point, you’re just begging for the conclusion to come so we can move onto other ideas. Javier Garrón’s art is at least something interesting to look at during this arc, but even then I’ve seen better work from him in the past, which isn’t necessarily his fault. “Enter the Phoenix” has involved a lot of fire-based imagery, and it grows similarly monotonous as it goes on (I have enjoyed seeing his Phoenix variants of existing character looks, though. Those are always fun).
To Aaron’s credit, there have been interesting developments in this arc, namely the aforementioned retcon to Thor’s origin and the ultimate identity of the new Phoenix host (without giving it away, the unexpected character bestowed with this “honor” has an incoming MCU counterpart who is seemingly being primed for big things, which leads to me to wonder if it’s on purpose or a happy coincidence for the comics side of the company). I’ve also mostly enjoyed Aaron’s Avengers run to date, which began nearly four years ago at this point (in Marvel Legacy #1) and regularly ties everything back to the overall mythology he’s established. I just wasn’t a big fan of this arc in particular. Aaron’s next big swing for the Marvel Universe is the forthcoming Heroes Reborn event, so I look forward to seeing how that fares in comparison.