Two main members of the Avengers are among the Phoenix Force’s final competitors, and they’re about to come to blows for it.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Avengers # 43 by Jason Aaron, Javier Garron, David Curiel and Cory Petit of VC, now on sale.
For the past few months, the battle for control of the Phoenix Force has been heated in Avengers, with multiple heroes coming to blows out of their desire to reclaim control of the cosmic force. While some want it for themselves, others simply want to keep it out of reach of more dangerous figures. Regardless of their reasons for fighting, these battles have ranged from brutal to honorable, some being resolved without a single hit and others resulting in fierce attacks.
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And at the end of Avengers # 43, Only Six Competitors Left, Including Two Notable Avengers Who Have Fought Each Other In A Fight Neither Wants To Win. And now Black Panther and Captain America, two of the Avengers’ noblest leaders and best fighters, must fight for the fate of the Phoenix Force.
Both Black Panther and Captain America have earned their hard-fought victories in the Phoenix Force tournament. Captain America’s first opponent was Doctor Doom, whose combination of technological, mystical and physical strength made him a powerful enemy of Captain America. Doom even more or less tried to kill Steve Rogers to gain access to that power. But Rogers’ refusal to retreat and die earned the continued respect of the Phoenix Force, who declared him the winner of the battle. Next, Captain America faced Shang-Chi and was willing to lose against such an honorable enemy. But Shang-Chi’s refusal to take a life went against the Phoenix’s main thrust, thus eliminating him from the race.
On the contrary, Phoenix Force has repeatedly tested Black Panther and his determination in the tournament. Black Panther has faced three opponents: the mystically empowered man-thing, the skilled member of the Supreme Squad. Nighthawk, and Wolverine, in the middle of a berserker bombardment. Regardless, the Phoenix Force whispered in Black Panther’s ear, hinting that it could end the tournament entirely and bond with him if only he accepted his embrace. Black Panther has resisted, believing that he, his Wakandan and Avengers Mountain resources can contain the Phoenix Force and control it to some degree.
Now, the two have met in one of the final duels of the tournament. Neither hero is happy with the circumstances, but neither of them seems to be backing down quickly. Both are sure of their own convictions, and now each can see himself as the best option to reclaim the power of the Phoenix to keep it out of more dangerous hands. Both are also among the best melee fighters in the Avenger, and neither of them falter in battle even when faced with impossible odds. Whoever wins their battle will likely advance to the final round of combat, and could become a favorite to gain the power of the Phoenix.
Of the remaining six fighters, Black Panther and Captain America are probably the two most preferable: Red Widow and Namor have repeatedly threatened the world and are the main enemies of the current Avengers. That they get a massive power surge doesn’t bode well for anyone. Shanna the She-Devil and She-Hulk are heroes, but both have also been through serious conflict lately, with the events of Empyre briefly corrupting both women and even briefly killing Jennifer Walters. That innate lingering darkness could be amplified by the Phoenix if it receives full strength.
Whether Captain America or the Black Panther wins this upcoming duel, the champion of this fight may be Earth’s last hope to see the power of the Phoenix in a trusted pair of hands.
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