What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about Avengers #40! Now as I said before, I definitely expected a bit more from Avengers #39 as the prelude to ‘Enter The Phoenix’. As someone who is jumping into the Avengers book solely to see how this event plays out, they didn’t set this story up keeping in mind that not everyone may be following this book. But even then I would rather judge this story in particular for what unfolds in the present, than for what happened in the past. So here I was ready to see if this really is a story worth investing in as it kicks off.
To my surprise, technically the story already began before this issue did. The Phoenix already made its way to Earth, made its presence known, and attracted all sorts of attention to it. We pretty much just jumped right into what comes next. That part at the very least held my attention since this was our opportunity to see how the Avengers would handle things differently than they did when they came into conflict with the X-Men over the Phoenix in the past. And with that in mind, how they handled things was a big improvement over how they reacted before. The difference this time around was the fact that no one is looking for a cage to put the Phoenix Force in. They simply want this destructive entity off the planet before it finds a host to do its bidding. Which brings us to the big plot of this story. That being the challenge in getting rid of the Phoenix when there are those out there who care very little about the risk in taking the Phoenix’s power for themselves. While some could say that this is technically not too different from the X-Men trying to use the Phoenix, you could also make the case that in this scenario anyone who wants this power isn’t someone you want to have any more power than they already do.
With that said, one also had to wonder how in the world some of the most powerful heroes and villains in the Marvel Universe are being called into a competition. Is it the Phoenix who sets this in motion? Or is there someone else also pulling the strings? Because it’s not often at all that the Phoenix is that communicative outside of those who it truly wants to connect with. You know, telepaths and the such. So when the answer came to that, I was certainly left with some mixed feelings. Mainly since this feels a bit out of character for the Phoenix. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the opening round for the tournament. I did for the fact that we were seeing some of the core values in which the Phoenix tends to look for in its host. Yet this did not make it easier to overlook the idea of making people fight to become the host. Hopefully this will be expanded upon down the road.
Aside from this, I was taken back by the roster for this tournament too. One would have assumed that this was just going to be Avengers and some power-hungry villains. You would not have guessed that this creative team was ready to throw a lot of colorful individuals into the mix. Some which made sense, some not so much. Yet you definitely wanted to know what influenced some of the decisions made.
For a story like this, I hate to say it but the artwork matters. If you open to that first page and the interior artwork isn’t satisfying for something of this scope? It’s not a story worth investing in, at all. So with that said, I was delighted to know and see for myself that there was a capable art team working on the interiors for this book. I mean the cover art was amazing enough, but we needed to know that this was going to be a product that was appealing inside and out. Javier Garron is an excellent penciler. For a story this action-packed, it made all the difference having a penciler who doesn’t cut corners. The characters are fully rendered, the same can be said for the settings, and all of it properly immerses you in the battlefield which the Phoenix both creates and throws these competitors into. I was only let down by the first page where where Phoenix appeared. I get that it is tough drawing a big firebird, between the being a big ball of fire, and creating shape out of fire. Though for that first appearance, you don’t want to sit there wondering what’s the head, and what’s the tail. Clarity will always be key, especially from the colors used to create said distinctions.
In the end, I would say that the events of Avengers #40 made me want to see more of what this story has in store. You just never know when it comes to the Phoenix if the story will impress, or flop. Everything comes down to execution and the levels of excitement you can generate using this entity once more to fuel a plot.