Hope's Not The Chosen One: Look Out For The Phoenix Force Five! Wait! What?!
"1,2,3,4 -- 5 Against One!"
By: Chris "DOC" Bushley
Well, the message boards are blowing up regarding the end of Avengers Vs. X-Men #5. The scene in question, has the Phoenix Force entering five X-Men instead of Hope. As Hope lay unconscious, Cyclops, Colossus, Namor, Emma Frost and Magick, are chosen as the recipients of one of the most powerful cosmic energies in the universe! Shocking? Yes. Foreseen by readers? Hell, no! But what could have been an interesting idea - the first of the A vs. X series - turned out to have an already less than thrilled readership — become completely irate!
So, your personal X-pert - me - is here to set a level playing field for all readers to see if we can't clarify the situation!
I will not delve into all the little nuances leading up to the point in question. I will however, try to give as much knowledge about the events leading up to it so everyone fully understands how we got there.
To begin, "Who is Hope?"
Hope was the first, and only, mutant birth after the events of M Day; in which the Scarlet Witch declared, "No more Mutants," and made it so! An anomaly, she was hunted by friend and foe, and eventually was taken by Cable into the future in order to be raised away from Bishop, who blamed her for the dystopian era he came from and swore to kill her. Cable raised her from infancy to her teenage years, training her in all methods of combat and survival techniques just to survive the harsh environment they lived in. A few years ago, both Cable and Hope "time jumped" to the current Marvel U. and set off the amazing "Second Coming" storyline that ran through all the X titles! Hope was then, and is now, seen as the "Mutant Messiah" that will eventually bring forth a mutant birth resurgence. Her powers are vast, being able to manipulate all powers anywhere near her for as long as needed. But her TRUE power, is the ability to "calm" the awakening powers in the "five lights." The "lights" are the five mutants that had latent powers manifest after Hope returned to our time. Without Hope's guidance, their powers would have driven them insane or worse yet — killed them! Hope and her "five lights" are bonded together emotionally — whether they like it or not!
Hope has also been privy to "flare-ups" of the Phoenix Force. Though at first only Emma Frost was able to see them, now all of the X-Men have seen these glaringly scary flashes of power! Cyclops may preach that she is the Messiah of their species, but some see her as a complete terror. First among them — the Avengers!
Tony Stark and the Avengers set up a power signature tracking system that would warn them if the Phoenix Force was to enter anywhere near Earth's atmosphere (again). Learning from the horrors Jean Grey went through with her bonding of the Phoenix Force, the Avengers will do anything to keep the cosmic entity away from Earth at all costs. That being said, when the tracking system picked up a reading, Wolverine tells Captain America exactly where the Phoenix will be heading — Utopia!
With the recent "Schism" of the X-Men, Utopia is now inhabited by what Cyclops calls his "Extinction Team." Consisting mainly of the most powerful mutants: Namor, Magneto, Juggernaut/Colossus, Storm, Emma Frost, Hope. And led by Cyclops, these "powerhouses" make a safe haven for any mutant that seeks sanctuary. But, Cyclops hand picked this team in order to send an imposing message to all who threaten the mutant race, a message that says, "We will not be targets anymore! If you hit us — we will hit back harder!" That is exactly the message the Avengers got when they tried to take Hope from Utopia, thus started — Avengers vs. X-Men!
The battle over Hope has led to Marvel's biggest franchises slugging it out on Earth, in space and on the moon. As most of the battle rages on Earth, the Secret Avengers are sent to space in order to stop the Phoenix Force from ever arriving. Without going into all the cosmic zaniness and team betrayals going on in this series, let's focus on the main point —Mjolnir can hurt the Phoenix! As the team gets trounced by the Phoenix, Tony Stark and Henry Pym use the information about Thor's hammer to create a Mech unit that can replicate Mjolnir's power signature. It will be a last ditch effort to destroy the Phoenix, but Iron Man is ready to fly the machine into the belly of the beast.
On Earth, a diabolical alien machine named Unit (from Kieron Gillen's short lived S.W.O.R.D. series), was captured by the X-Men and placed in the prison block of Utopia. But he is not there against his will, in fact, Unit's entire plan is to manipulate Hope's bonding with the Phoenix! You see, Unit has been alive for quite some time and has seen the power of the Phoenix before on a distant planet. As he cons Hope's "five lights" into listening to his story, and we see threads as to why the five X-Men receive the Phoenix Force unfold! According to Unit, in Uncanny X-Men #13, once there was a planet that was ruled by a lineage of demon princes. They would do everything to oppress the eventual evolution of any species in order to remain the dominant one. Eventually, a Messiah emerged and she found five acolytes that became bonded to her spiritually. She then called out to the Phoenix Force, causing the complete destruction of their oppressors and the eventual evolution of the planet. After the tale, Unit and a manipulated Danger, decimate the "five lights," leaving Hope alone to receive the power of the Phoenix.
Hope eventually teams with Wolverine, who then calls his Avengers buddies — which is weird because Cap and Giant Man just beat the hell out of him, and they go to the moon to face the Phoenix. Lo and behold, the Avengers, Secret Avengers and Cyclops' core "Extinction Team" all converge on the moon to deal with the Phoenix. Hope can feel its presence taking her over and screams for Wolverine to kill her; she no longer wants to be one with such a powerful creature! In the meantime, Tony Stark flies his Mech into the heart of the Phoenix causing a massive explosion that rocks everyone! As the dust settles, Hope is found unconscious, but the Phoenix has chosen its vessel anyway. Without the Messiah and her "five lights," the Phoenix has chosen to bond with the oppressed mutants that are on the brink of extinction. Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Magick and - a now Juggernaut free - Colossus hover above all as the combined might of the Phoenix!
We have already begun to see what this new Phoenix Force Five's mission is in X-Men Legacy #268. Cyclops has traveled to Narobia and has outlawed war, disarming all militias, rebels and even the government's army! So far, it looks as though the leader of the X-Men is trying to bring true utopia to the world at large. But can one who posses some of the most unstable cosmic power, ever truly see the world as more than a spec that needs to be cleansed? I guess we will just have to wait and see, but this preview page from Avengers vs. X-Men #6 doesn't bode well for humanity!
So, if you made it through this lengthy article, I hope you have some clarity as to why there are five Phoenix wielders. Not that Marvel has really given us a great reason to begin with, but at least I try! So hang in there, this may just turn out to be something completely fantastic in the long run!
Oh, who am I kidding? It's horrible!