It's Avengers versus X-Men. Last time we found out that there maybe a connection between the Phoenix and the Iron Fist. (Yes it’s the same “Background” as last time, as the last story added nothing!)
|Executive Producer:||Alan Fine|
|Chief Creative Officer:||Joe Quesada|
|Editor In Chief:||Axel Alonso|
|Associate Editor:||Lauren Sankovitch|
|Writer:||Brian Michael Bendis|
|Artist:||Mike Deodato, Jr.|
|Cover Art:||Mike Deodato, Jr., Rain Beredo|
|Lettering:||VC's Joe Caramagna|
The story starts in the past (again) and it seems the writers have stopped telling us when exactly (we’ve gone from a hundred years ago to many years ago to years and years ago!). Yu Ti, Leonardo da Vinci and Fongji (who is now the Iron Fist) watch the Phoenix force approach K’un Lun. Fongji asks her Master for advice: What happened in his prophecy? What did she do? It is only now that Yu Ti reveals he actually had two prophecies; one where Fongji succesfully became the Phoenix, the other where it corrupted her and she destroys everything. Fongji battles the Phoenix and ultimately wins. Fongji is now the vessel of the Phoenix but she is in control of it (apart from a brief moment when it looks as though she was going to turn Dark but remains the boss). The Phoenix is telling her about the cosmos and the many things within it, so Fongji decides she should leave as “This world isn’t ready”.
We skip to present day and Danny Rand has been telling Hope Summers this story. Hope is both confused and angry: the Phoenix is on Earth and that is where the battles are being fought but she has been taken to K’un Lun to train – all she has done her entire life is train! Master Yu Ti appears (it’s made clear that this isn’t the same Yu Ti from the earlier story) and suggests that in order to beat the Phoenix she may have to train to become the Iron Fist (much to Danny’s surprise as there can be only one). However, a quick trip the scrying vessel of Bo-Ling tells Yu Ti that what Hope needs is to be trained by the Spider.
Enter Spider-Man, who is also surprised and points out that she has already been trained by Cyclops, Wolverine and Cable – what can he possibly add? Fortunately Spidey has the old classic “With great power comes great responsibility” speech and that seems to do the trick as Hope starts to believe in herself again.
So after two and a half issues, we find out that a past incarnation of Iron Fist successfully defeated and gained control of the Phoenix force. She then promptly left, never to be heard of again. All of that just to provide a possible means of defeating the Phoenix in the current AvX event. The question has to be, was it worth it? I’m afraid my answer is: not really.
Let me try and explain why I don’t like this event or rather how it is represented in New Avengers. Normally you have an event that tells a story within 6 to 12 issues of its own comic and/or in a limited series, with certain other comic lines having tie in issues. That’s the point, the event’s story is told in the limited series with a few extras thrown in. If you want to take part in that event, then pick it up. Let’s take “Spider-Island” as an example. If you just read Spider-Man, you didn’t have to pick up the Cloak & Dagger tie-ins to be able to follow the main story. This is what I did, as even though I’m a Spider-Man fan, I didn’t have the time or money to pick up every single issue associated with Spider-Island so I didn’t, I just stuck with the main title. Did this ruin my enjoyment of Spider-Island? No. Was the story completed within Spider-Man? Yes. Did I feel I was missing something significant out by not picking up tie-ins? Sometimes, but then the comic I was reading was good enough to fill in the key details I was missing or at least refer me to an issue that would explain more if I would like. Let's look at the other point of view, if Spider-Man was used as a tie in to an event (such as in “Fear Itself”). You could read the self contained story within the tie in issues without it getting in the way of the current Spidey storyline. I didn't follow Fear Itself, so didn't get the Spidey tie in issues and continued to enjoy Spider-Man in its own right. This just isn’t the case in New Avengers; mainly because it has been a victim of being part of too many events. It’s difficult being a New Avengers reader without having to pick up the many other event comics that it constantly refers to. It isn’t a comic in its own right; it is mainly used as tie in to an event or crossover. That’s not how it should be with a comic line, especially with an Avengers title – arguably Marvel’s premier comic line.
This is where this Iron Fist vs. Phoenix arc falls flat for me. Whilst it tells does tell a self-contained prequel story, it takes too many issues to tell it and it ultimately doesn’t resolve it. It tells how the Phoenix turns up and Fongji defeats it, but what happens to her next? It tells how being the Iron Fist may allow Hope to defeat the Phoenix, but does it and does she? We don’t get to find out any of this within the story (certainly not within any of the issues of New Avengers). So far we have had 4 AvX issues of New Avengers (and there are 3 more to come) and there is no pay off to the New Avengers comic and any ongoing storylines it may have (except perhaps Luke Cage electing to stay with the team). There's the problem, New Avengers doesn’t have its own story and just serves as filler for other comics. It is therefore very difficult to positively review a New Avengers comic in its own right. (To be honest I was going to drop the line after the AvX storyline, until I found out that the next story was to be the last so I stuck with it until the end.)
Okay rant over; let’s pick on some specifics from this issue. They have finally got rid of the “team line up” page, replacing it with a more suitable “who’s appearing” page, which I appreciated. I also appreciated the clarification that Yu Ti was a ceremonial title and so the one at the end of the story was different to the one at the beginning. The art was good again with some nice splashes of Fongji vs. the Phoenix, although I felt a bit cheated as these were very similar to the prophecy splashes from New Avengers (Vol. 2) #25. Speaking of which, in this issue Yu Ti reveals he actually had two prophecies: one good and one bad. Why then, in the first issue of this arc, was there not a good and bad dream? – just the same dream twice! Drawing out the story and then throwing something in last minute – very silly. I also find it strange that if an Iron Fist defeated the Phoenix so long ago, it has never been mentioned the previous times the Phoenix has appeared. Convenient or just bad writing?
I did chuckle to myself when I saw the page of Yu Ti, Leonardo and Fongji watching the Phoenix approaching without the aid of the telescope, following my major complaint about the inclusion of Leonardo in New Avengers (Vol. 2) #26. Luckily, the issue had some funny moments that were designed to be so. Yu Ti commenting how his predecessor got the mute Fongji whilst he got stuck with the talkative Hope and Hope saying she wasn’t going to dress like Spider-Man (and become the fifth Spider-Woman?), only to change her mind later and consider getting a new costume. Spider-Man was also well used, though at first I did roll my eyes when he opened with his infamous “with great power…” quote. Fortunately he did back this up by relating to Hope that most of them didn’t ask for the power they received, most of them didn’t know what they were there for and most of them get blamed for things they haven’t done, but they still stand up and use their power responsibly. This was something Hope hadn’t been taught by her previous mentors and so was worthwhile.
So not all bad, just a shame/silly we don't get to see Hope and the conclusion of AvX within New Avengers.
An average issue with a bit of action and some talking heads to drive the story on (albeit slowly). The use of New Avengers as filler for the AvX event and lack of conclusion, as I ranted above, lowers its score.
AvX conclusion spoiler – since it isn’t told within New Avengers, I'll tell you the significance of this tale below.
Hope does get the powers of Iron Fist but using her power mimicry ability, as opposed to defeating Shao Lao, therefore allowing Danny Rand to remain the Iron Fist. She uses these along with the powers of the Scarlet Witch to defeat the Phoenix.