In the latest issue of Avengers, Phoenix finally chose his new host, choosing the contender who had the biggest loss in his tournament.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for Avengers # 44
In the latest issue of Marvel Comics’ Avengers, the Phoenix Tournament has come to a close, although not in the way that many would have initially expected. The sensitive and chaotic Phoenix Force has chosen its new host to wield its power in the Marvel Universe, though it is none of the final contenders that remained at the start of the new issue. Instead, Phoenix chose the biggest loser of the tournament. While this decision makes some sense, it still makes the rest of the tournament cheaper to run, rendering most of the narrative useless in the grand scheme of the overall story.
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At the beginning of the Phoenix Tournament arc Avengers From writer Jason Aaron with art by Javier Garrón, it was revealed that Namor, the King of Atlantis, had summoned the Phoenix to return to Earth so that he could claim his power as his own. However, the Phoenix had other plans, choosing nearly 20 different competitors from across the Marvel Universe, forcing them to wrestle with parts of their power to determine those most worthy of serving as their new host. Five issues and multiple epic battles later, the contenders had come down to Captain America, Black Panther, Shanna the She-Devil, Red Widow, She-Hulk, and Namor himself. However, none of them ended up walking away as the tournament winner at the end of Avengers # 44 and the conclusion of the arc.
Instead, the Phoenix chose Maya López, also known as Echo. Apparently, the Phoenix wasn’t looking for strength or power, as it already had enough. Instead, the Phoenix was looking for the hero who had suffered the most and who had fallen the most. This was certainly Echo, as Namor had killed her under the ocean waves as soon as Avengers # 41 when there were still several battles to fight in the tournament. Now, Maya López has been reborn and risen from the ashes as the new Phoenix, although it cheapens the grand narrative of the tournament as a whole.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with Aaron’s choice to have Echo as the New Phoenix, it came at the cost of the overall success of the entire narrative in its execution. Making the new Phoenix someone who suffered harder and harder is a clever way to subvert expectations, and creates the need for them to be reborn from the ashes. However, having Echo lose so early feels like a misstep, as it makes each subsequent fight essentially pointless (and there were several). A better execution might have been saving Echo and Namor’s fight in the tournament until the very end, which makes it the final duel. Namor could still have beaten Echo and “win”, and the Phoenix’s surprise choice of Echo would still work, as her suffering and fall was the result of Namor killing her. No one else died in his battles, which means that Echo’s death and subsequent loss would have been even more profound and unique, even if he had made it all the way to the final round of the tournament.
While Maya Lopez is expected to be a hot new Phoenix in the Marvel Universe, her transformation could have been so much better without having to screw up the tournament narrative like she did. Regardless, it appears that Echo’s Phoenix will be around for quite some time, although it will be interesting to see exactly what kind of Phoenix it will be in the future issue of Avengers from Marvel Comics.
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