Again, the Avengers play no role in this side story of the Avengers vs. X-Men “event,” but Brian Michael Bendis shows us in New Avengers #26 what he does best when he wants to: spin a great, seemingly self-contained yarn that will still have dire ramifications to the ongoing serial playing through a number of books.
So, X-Men fanatic, thought ya knew everything there was to know about the Phoenix Force, even down to Madelyn Pryor’s middle initial? Well, think again, True Believer.
Like in the Shi’ar Empire with one of their own, the Phoenix Force has apparently been held in the mystic city of K’un Lunby a peasant girl named Fongji (aaaayyyyy!). This “host” is also being prepared – or was prepared long ago – to be the holder of the power of the Iron Fist by Master Yu Ti (no rapper jokes, please) and Leonardo DaVinci. (Yep, that one!)
The trials and tribulations of these two along with Fongji make up the course of this side tale, but that does not make it any less involving. Bendis does some of his best writing here, showing that his knowledge of these characters and the Fist mythos maybe second only to Matt Fraction among the “architects.” Great voices, great dialogue.
We even get away in a manner from Bendis “talking heads,” as Fongji is a lady of few words. Actions speak more loudly for this “host,” and she is quite the involving character.
As usual, the real reason to pick up New Avengers is the always-excellent art of Mike Deodato. He and Rain Beredo use splash pages and smart layout to their advantage here, and it lets the art truly shine (as it always does under Deodato’s pencils and inks).
For an issue of New Avengers without any New Avengers, believe me, you will like this one quite well.