This week's Avengers #44 from writer Jason Aaron and artists Javier Garrón and David Curiel reveals the winner of the 'Enter the Phoenix' tournament, crowing a new host for the Phoenix in the process.
The reveal isn't exactly a surprise as it's exactly what Marvel previously (perhaps inadvertently) revealed on variant covers for this summer's Heroes Reborn crossover, the original details of which follow below.
Spoilers ahead for Avengers #44.
Avengers #44 spends most of its pages in a knockdown, drag-out fight with the competitors of the Phoenix tournament all raging to become the new host of the cosmic entity.
Some, like Captain America, fight to win because they believe the Phoenix should not have an Earthbound host. Others, such as Black Panther, fight because they believe themselves to be the best possible choice. Namor in particular fights for supremacy, even calling himself the 'Star-Mariner' as he invokes the power of the Phoenix Force.
But in the end, it's a totally different quality that wins out - survival.
Abandoned on the seafloor by Namor in their first fight, Echo rises from the depths, reborn through the power of the Phoenix Force. And it's this rebirth that truly embodies the spirit of the Phoenix, according to the narration. After all, that's the true essence of the Phoenix, death and resurrection, rebirth, and remaking.
Absorbing the full power of the Phoenix, including all the shards of its essence spread throughout the other contestants, Echo claims the mantle of Phoenix and becomes the official new host - something writer Jason Aaron says will be a long-term status quo.
Interestingly, Echo, with the power of the Phoenix, seems to confirm that Thor is the "only begotten child of the Phoenix," saying the truth is "complicated" and calling him "son of the Thunderbird."
The Phoenix/Echo will apparently be a key player in Heroes Reborn, Marvel's summer event that remakes the world without the Avengers (read all about how she fits in below).
Original story follows
Marvel has revealed a slew of April variant covers which the publisher states will set the stage for its May-launching Heroes Reborn 2021 event – but the Carlos Pacheco drawn covers, which depict the status quos of prominent Avengers in the world of Heroes Reborn 2021 where the Avengers never formed, may have revealed something of a much bigger spoiler for a current Marvel story.
Potential spoilers ahead for Avengers 'Enter the Phoenix'
One of the variants – the cover for Daredevil #29 – shows Echo confined in a straight jacket in what appears to be an asylum. As with all the variants, the image is captioned with a title offering some insight into the character's Heroes Reborn 2021 fate, in this case "The Lost Prisoner."
Interestingly enough, Marvel's previous solicitation for May 19's Heroes Reborn #3 states that "the Phoenix" is the "newest inmate" at the infamous Ravencroft Asylum. And what's more, the cover of Avengers #44, the finale of 'Enter the Phoenix,' which revolves around the Phoenix Force hosting a tournament to find its new host, shows an apparently female figure who bears a striking resemblance to Echo in silhouette as the new Phoenix host.
Putting those pieces together, has Marvel inadvertently shown its hand on who will now possess the Phoenix Force?
Avengers writer Jason Aaron previously told Newsarama that whoever becomes the new Phoenix host will have a new status quo for some time.
"The idea is it'll be an ongoing thing – it's not just one arc and done," Aaron told Newsarama before 'Enter the Phoenix' kicked off. "Coming out of this arc, we'll have a new status quo for the Phoenix, and for the character that becomes the host."
There are some wrinkles in the theory that Echo will be the new Phoenix host. For one thing, she lost her fight against Namor in Avengers #42 and was presumably eliminated from the tournament. But, seeing as the Phoenix apparently offered to skip the tournament altogether and give its power to Thor, we're betting the rules of the tournament don't matter so much to a cosmic entity.
Echo could also be another inmate of Ravencroft, held there alongside the Phoenix - perhaps a way for the Phoenix Force to escape confinement.
We'll find out when 'Enter the Phoenix' concludes in April 7's Avengers #44.
In the meantime, here are all six April titles scheduled for Heroes Reborn variants so far (one of which shows Black Panther in Echo's old identity of Ronin… hmm) along with their release dates:
- Thor #14 (April 7)
- Daredevil #29 (April 14)
- Guardians of the Galaxy #13 (April 14)
- Avengers #45 (April 21)
- Black Panther #25 (April 28)
- Black Widow #6 (April 28)
And of course, here's a gallery of all six variants.
If Echo becomes the next Phoenix, will she join the ranks of Marvel's best Phoenix Force hosts?