Comic Book Review – Avengers #40

Writer – Jason Aaron

Artist – Javi Garrón

I have been dipping in and out of Jason Aaron’s Avengers run and I decided to pick up the first part of “Enter the Phoenix” after Lenil Yu’s cover caught my eye on the new comics rack.

The Phoenix Force is nesting on the Planet Earth, awaiting a new host. As the Avengers try to figure out the Phoenix’s true intentions, Namor and his Defenders of the Deep attack Avengers HQ. Namor, a former host of the Phoenix Force, wants the power for himself so that he can protect Atlanteans and the ocean depths. As the two sides do battle, a surprising guest star prevents Namor from reaching his goal. In a brilliant flash of light, the Phoenix Force disappears, along with King Namor, King T’Challa, and Captain America. The heroes reappear gathered together in an unknown location with other heroes and villains, forced to fight each other to determine the one worthy enough to be the new host of the Phoenix Force. The first match up: Captain America vs Doctor Doom!

If you are a fan of past Marvel miniseries liked Contest of Champions and Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, this storyline is right up your alley. The final page of this issue teases future combatants in the battle of the best and brightest (Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Shang Chi, Howard the Duck and Man-Thing) to hone the all-powerful Phoenix Force. Who will win and what will the ramifications be for the victor? We have seen how destructive the Phoenix Force can be in the Dark Phoenix Saga and Avengers vs. X-Men. Can the Phoenix Force be used for good or will the winner be corrupted like Jean Grey and the Phoenix Five were previously? Can the Avengers and the Defenders of the Deep put their differences aside to find their teammates and stop the tournament before someone is maimed or killed?

Garrón does a great job rendering exotic locales like the Savage Land and Avengers Mountain in this issue. Captain America is the focal point for the majority of the tale as we learn his feelings about the tournament and the misgivings he has fighting his fellow compatriots. There is a wink/nod to the movie Captain America: Civil War in one of the panels of the story that I thought was a nice inclusion, but I can see it be groan inducing or eye rolling for others.

This issue was released on December 30th and if you didn’t make it to your local comic shop the week between Christmas and New Year, you may have missed it. I was able to pick up a copy last week, so it’s not too late to grab a copy for yourself.

Next Issue – “THE BATTLE TO DECIDE THE ALL-NEW PHOENIX CONTINUES! 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.” Release Date – January 20, 2021.