In Jason Aaron and Javier Garrón’s Avengers #41, the fight for control of the Phoenix continues as Black Panther is pitted against another hero.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Avengers #41, by Jason Aaron, Javier Garrón, David Curiel, and VC’s Cory Petit, on sale now.
In “Enter the Phoenix,” the Phoenix Force has abducted multiple Marvel heroes and villains into itself, and is pitting one against the other in a contest that will determine who will be chosen to become the all-powerful cosmic entity’s new host. In Avengers #40, the contest began with Doctor Doom and Captain America, who were both given a fraction of the Phoenix’s power, and the Sentinel of Liberty ultimately emerged victorious. Now, in issue #41, the first round of the battle for the Phoenix continues.
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This time, it’s Black Panther’s turn and, unlike Captain America, he isn’t pitted against one of the Marvel Universe’s worst villains. No, T’Challa’s fight is set to be against a fellow superhero: the magical creature known as the Man-Thing. And unfortunately for the protector of the Nexus of All Realities, Black Panther has no intention of holding back.
The battle between Man-Thing and Black Panther takes place on the outskirts of Wakanda. There, the elemental creature, now given a sliver of the Phoenix’s power, becomes even larger than usual, and it proceeds to attack T’Challa.
While the Man-Thing is a force for good in the Marvel Universe, “Enter the Phoenix” has made it clear that the power given to each of the contestants can be intoxicating. Captain America confirmed as much in Avengers #40, and Black Panther reiterates the sentiment in this issue. These valiant superheroes may be able to withstand being all but consumed by the Phoenix Force for the duration of their battle, but it looks like the Man-Thing is more easily driven to fight.
Even T’Challa himself is aware of the fact, given that he tells the creature: “I know you to be a noble being and that the Phoenix is infecting your mind.” But the monster can’t stop himself. He wraps his large hand around T’Challa, intent on being declared the winner of this battle.
T’Challa avoids him as best he can, but even he knows there is only one way this battle can end. He then activates his Phoenix powers, which give him a flaming new look. Once he’s properly powered up, T’Challa fights back, showing he already has a proper handle of the Phoenix’s powers, combined with his own. While the Man-Thing is a giant, Black Panther hops all over him and even flies straight through the monster.
T’Challa needs to win, so he fights to win — and the battle rapidly comes to an end. Once he’s done, the Man-Thing is obliterated. The King of Wakanda returns to the other contenders, and it’s clear that he is the victor. When the others ask about Man-Thing, T’Challa tells them that the creature will regrow, suggesting that Man-Thing has been obliterated.
The Black Panther essentially just killed the Man-Thing but luckily, his opponent was an magic elemental creature that has the ability to regrow itself. It’s as close to a win-win scenario as he likely can get, given the circumstances. But next time, T’Challa might not be so lucky — he could end up pitted against someone who won’t have the ability to regenerate.
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