Opening up with a flashback to K’un Lun of yesteryear, “New Avengers” #27 continues to reveal the secret (retconned) connection between the legend of Iron Fist and the Phoenix. It seems odd to have the Phoenix coming to Earth retro-fitted into continuity centuries before the X-Men first encountered the fiery spirit of destruction and rebirth.
As a matter of fact, it reminded me more than a little bit of Earth’s critical importance in the pages of “Blackest Night.” Brian Michael Bendis, through his choice to narrow this issue’s cast down to a handful of characters transcends that comparison and drops a fun little story on the importance of Spider-Man once again. Master Yu Ti guides Hope to realize that she is to learn a truth of the utmost importance from Spider-Man. Along the way, during the journey to realization, Bendis shows us that Hope is still a teenager, with the weight of the world set upon her shoulders. She’s anxious, scared and completely on edge. Add in Spider-Man and there’s plenty of opportunity for unexpected enlightenment as well as a couple solid laughs.
Mike Deodato has a knack for over-emphasizing the female form through extreme liberties in anatomical construction and posture, but given the largely conversational tone of this issue, those extremes are significantly lessened. True, Deodato exercises just as many liberties with the male characters of this story, but the importance for the art is expression, posture and body language. The artist sells the conversation between Hope Summers and Spider-Man quite well, frequently accentuating the discussion with keenly crafted backgrounds.
The combination of quieter moments and a tighter cast really helps to make this issue of “New Avengers” shine. This isn’t the Earth-shattering reveal of the Phoenix Five, nor is it the final confrontation between X-Men and Avengers, but this issue does seem as though it may contain one of the critical turning points in the course of the “Avengers Vs. X-Men” story as well as in the development of Hope Summers. Bendis and Deodato addressed the mandate of tying their tale into the larger story and did so with a comic that is fun.