New Avengers #26: Iron Fist of the Phoenix

Neither Danny Rand nor Hope Summers appear in this issue. But some interesting backstory does.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

New Avengers #26

The last couple of issues of New Avengers have had Brian Michael Bendis engaging in a bit of revisionist history, establishing that, centuries ago, there was a connection between the power of the Iron Fist and the power of the Phoenix that's at the center of the big Avengers vs. X-Men fracas. As I tend not to like it when Bendis plays around with continuity, I fully expected to dislike whatever he was inventing here… but so far, I can't say that I do. It's kind of interesting, actually.

New Avengers #26 continues the story started last issue of the mysteriously silent young red-haired woman Fongji, who has worked meekly in the mystical city of K'un Lun until the Master Yu Ti has a vision of the impending arrival of the Phoenix, and Fongji as the Iron Fist who can capture and harness it. Her training has begun, and in the meantime, K'un Lun has recruited Leonardo Da Vinci to aid in preparations for the Phoenix Force. Now, the involvement of Da Vinci always immediately brings to mind Hudson Hawk, but this is more likely tying into Jonathan Hickman's S.H.I.E.L.D. series that established the long secret history of that particular organization to include Da Vinci and Isaac Newton, among others, as people who figured out how to beat Galactus without superheroes. It's Hickman, so it's a bit of a mind-bender.

Bendis, however, just has Da Vinci build a gigantic telescope to try and track the Bird of Fire, once he witnesses Fongji, in the heat of training, flare up Phoenix-style just like Hope Summers did recently in the present-day books. This is her journey to becoming the Iron Fist, and it is the hope that she can use that power to deal with what's coming her way.

It's a simple story so far, and there's not much to say about it as yet, at least not until we see its resolution. The mystery surrounding Fongji's silence and history is certainly compelling enough to keep us reading. Mike Deodato's art is pretty cool, too, with its moodiness and glory when he goes all out on an illustration. This should wind up raising the profile for Iron Fist pretty significantly if it shakes out well.

New Avengers #26 might be worth your time, if you're into the Fisting. Get your minds out of the gutter.