Avengers #43 heats up (pardon the pun) the tournament at the heart of the current 'Enter the Phoenix' arc, in which numerous Marvel characters – both heroes and villains – compete to become the new host of the fiery Phoenix Force with a new preview of interior pages by artists Javier Garrón and David Curiel.
A cosmic entity of life, death, and rebirth, the Phoenix has been a part of Marvel Comics lore since the '70s, when the entity began its obsession with Jean Grey of the X-Men, leading to the legendary Uncanny X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga story. Since then, the Phoenix has had many hosts (including plenty of other mutants). Now, it wants only the Marvel character who proves themselves most fit for its power – by winning its tournament.
In the latest fight, depicted in these pages, two apex predators stalk each other at one of the most deadly places on Earth, with Wolverine and Black Panther fighting it out at Chernobyl.
Here's the gallery of interior pages, along with a whole smorgasbord of variant covers.
"The fight to become the All-New Phoenix heats up!" reads Marvel's official solicitation for Avengers #43. "As the greatest heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe are trapped within the battle to decide the all-new Phoenix - a bloody battle that has narrowed to a handful of desperate combatants."
"Thor leads the rest of the Avengers in the fight to contain the Phoenix Force on Earth, in a quest complicated by the Thunder God's own mysterious connection to the cosmic firebird," it concludes.
Thor's connection to the Phoenix Force may be complicated indeed, as Avengers #42 concluded with Firehair, a mutant who was the first earthly host of the Pheonix Force in the time of the Avengers 1,000,000 B.C. (introduced in 2017's Marvel Legacy #1), told Thor that she was his mother, not Gaea, as he has long believed.
If true, that carries its own host of implications for the Marvel Universe, the Mighty Thor in particular.
And of course, 'Enter the Phoenix' leads to Heroes Reborn, Marvel's May-launching summer event which remakes Earth into a world where the Avengers never formed.
Avengers #43 is due out March 3.
'Enter the Phoenix' is the latest in a long line of epic tales featuring Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Here are the best Avengers stories of all time.