Pencils: Adam Kubert
With only two issues remaining after this, things have really started to heat up. Scott has come to retrieve Hope from K’un Lun and take her back to Utopia. What he plans to do with her there is unclear. As the intended host of the Phoenix, Hope represents the only remaining threat to Scott and Emma. However, Cyclops encounters some unexpected resistance from the mystical forces of K’un Lun and from Hope herself who appears to be far from out of this fight.
Warning: Spoilers follow.
One of the most pleasing aspects of this event, and something I’ve always enjoyed about storylines that include the Phoenix Force, is the artwork representing the Phoenix powers. There is one panel in particular in this issue that I absolutely loved. Scott hits Thor, Thing and Hawkeye with his optic blast but in addition to the trademark red beam Kubert has drawn a defiantly screaming Phoenix rushing towards the three hapless Avengers. It’s a wonderful image that skilfully conveys the awesome power of the Phoenix.
This issue shows the Avengers at their lowest point: their hiding place has been discovered, Hope hasn’t finished her training, Iron Man hasn’t come up with any miraculous solutions, and the teams sent out to combat the Phoenix Five are coming back beaten and broken. But it looks like things are about to turn a corner. Scott and Emma seem to have finally lost their tenuous grip on reality and, as a result, most of the remaining X-Men, including Storm and Magneto, have turned against them. Despite having missed her opportunity to host the Phoenix, Hope’s powers continue to grow in some unexpected directions and she is able to give Cyclops a spanking in this issue. The stage is set for the final confrontation as he heads off to deprive Emma of her powers so that he can take on Hope.
It looks like next issue will see Cyclops and Emma go head to head to decide who will be the final Phoenix host. Then it will be up to Hope to take down the winner in the last issue. The way this story has been unfolding I presume that it will be Scott who comes out victorious in the confrontation with Frost but you never know. Emma would make a far more unsympathetic villain as she seems to have devolved into heartless tyrant between this issue and the last. But Scott’s character arc has been in development for a very long time and it feels like the final issue will see the climax of years of work in the series. He has been becoming increasingly extreme for a long time now, it led to Schism in 2011 and this story is the final flowering of this overarching narrative. I for one am looking forward to seeing how things play out. 8/10