Phoenix Song: Echo #1 Review: An(other) Introduction With Endless Promise

The road to Phoenix Song: Echo has been a bit rough in places, as "Enter the Phoenix" in Avengers missed more than it hit. The fights themselves were stunning to witness, but it felt like the soul was missing. It did however inspire some hope for the future thanks to the reveal that the Phoenix had chosen Echo as its new host, an inspired and unexpected choice that held promise, and now that future is here in the start of Marvel's new limited series Phoenix Song: Echo #1. The question is then does it deliver, and while there are some flaws, the debut feels like a victory by its end.

Phoenix Song: Echo begins in familiar territory, as writer Rebecca Roanhorse paints an effective picture of how easy it is to lose control of such a powerful force, even for someone as disciplined as Echo. That's pretty common for Phoenix-centric storylines over the years, but it's still effective, and the gorgeous artwork from artist Luca Maresca and colorist Carlos Lopez help convey that slippery slope. The opening sequence begins with a confident and frankly badass Echo but soon drifts into a person all consumed with power, and the transition into that other form gives readers a sense of how that switch can be flipped on a dime.

More importantly, it conveys the consequences of slipping, even just for a second, and unlike some other instances in the past, you understand why the host, in this case, Echo, attempts to isolate herself and push others away. It also gives readers a delightful exchange between Elektra (currently Daredevil) and Maya, and Maresca and Lopez knock that sequence out of the park.

Then the book takes an odd detour, and while there are highlights from the sequence, characters just aren't acting like themselves or the people we've come to know them to be over recent years, and it immediately took me out of the story. This frequently happens when the X-Men are involved, and in this issue, it's Forge who is the culprit, going to lengths that just leave you scratching your head. Do I expect this from Beast? Yes. Magneto? Yes (well, kind of nowadays). Sinister? Absolutely. But Forge? Not in the least.

After that the issue gets back on track, leaning into Maya as a person but also her lineage and ancestry, and it's here that the issue truly shines. After meeting a mysterious man named Riverwalker, we receive a hilarious sequence involving a meeting at his home, and then the comic picks up the intrigue with a revelation that instantly hooked me on what's to come. Those last three pages open up so many questions and plant several compelling seeds regarding Maya's mother, the town she grew up in, Riverwalker's mysterious abilities, and a new antagonist that is hitting Echo in a way she can't fight with brute force.

Defeating this shadowy force will take a new level of trust and understanding, and at least from this small sample size, it gives the impression that rich character growth and evolution are in store for Maya in this series, and that richness is what will make this story soar.

If Phoenix Song: Echo continues the momentum of this issue's second half and delivers on the promise it holds, we could have an amazing series on our hands. If it stays at the surface, it could still be enjoyable, but it won't come near to what it could be. Here's hoping the former is true because all of the elements are here for Phoenix Song: Echo to be something truly special.

Published by Marvel Comics

On October 20, 2021

Written by Rebecca Roanhorse

Art by Luca Maresca

Colors by Carlos Lopez

Letters by Ariana Maher

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Cover by Cory Smith and Alejandro Sánchez