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Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Mike Deodato (artist), Rain Beredo (color art), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters & production), Mike Deodato & Rain Beredo (cover artists), John Denning (assistant editor), Lauren Sankovitch (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Years ago, a young woman named Fongji trained to be the Iron Fist by Kei Lung, became one with the Phoenix Force and left Earth to discover her true path. In the present, Hope Summers is in the magical city of K’un Lun with Daniel Rand, the Iron Fist. He tells her the story of Fongji before the current Yu-Ti appears beside them and whisks her off to the Scrying Pool of Bo-Ling to see what it can tell them. As they sit across from one another, a spherical bubble of water rises and displays images of the Phoenix Force and then a glittering spider. Yu-Ti takes this to mean that Hope needs training by Spider-Man. When informed of this, Spider-Man isn’t entirely sure what he’s supposed to teach her, but he mentions the old phrase his uncle once uttered, “With great power comes great responsibility. It takes some explaining but Hope eventually understands what he is talking about. She gets on board and prepares to learn more from him.
(K’un Lun, years and years ago)As the Phoenix Force moves towards Earth, Fongji, Yu-Ti and Leonardo DaVinci wonder what to do. Yu-Ti tells Fongji that she will engage this bird of fire but Fongji doesn’t know what that means. Yu-Ti adds that she is the chosen Dragon Lord… the Iron Fist. This is her moment. She turns to him and asks what she did in his dream. He replies that he had two prophecies. In one, she engaged the bird and took the gift of its power to become a being of purity. She became the Phoenix. In the other, she was corrupted by it. She used its power to destroy him, the Thunderer and the entire city of K’un Lun. She replies that he never told her there were two paths, but he tells her that there are always two paths.
Fongji admits that she is scared. Yu-Ti replies that he is too, but she must focus. She turns to Leonardo just in case he has anything to add, but he simply suggests that she listen to her master. Without really understanding what she is doing, she takes her stance and concentrates hard. As the Phoenix Force approaches, she creates fiery dragon which quickly grows in size and rises quickly to engage the Phoenix. DaVinci and Yu-Ti look on in amazement as the two entities battle. Fongji concentrates, controlling her dragon as the skies light up with energy. Moments later, the skies go dark and DaVinci asks what’s happened. Now, standing before them is Fongji, only she is wearing green pants and a white top emblazoned with a golden phoenix. “I believe it is done,” she states.
Yu-Ti asks how she feels. Fongji replies that she is transformed. DaVinci tells her that ‘transformed’ is exactly what she looks like. Yu-Ti asks if she has any wisdom to share. She tells him that the Phoenix speaks inside her. Yu-Ti asks what it says and does it have a message for them. Fongji replies that she’s not sure she understands it. It thinks of her as just a vessel, but she isn’t. She is in control. Yes? Leonardo asks what it wants her to do. Fongji informs him that it tells of the cosmos and of other worlds and peoples. It’s not just them. There are people everywhere and so many other creatures. If only he could see what she sees. Yu-Ti says he would give anything to see that. Leonardo asks why her. Why did the Phoenix come to Earth and what does it want?
Fongji suddenly stops speaking and her eyes roll back in their sockets. Yu-Ti asks her if she is to stay or leave. She pauses before trying to answer. She rises from the ground and struggles to contain the massive energies within her body. DaVinci asks what she is feeling. Sparks fly around her eyes as she replies that she has control. She informs them that she must leave. This world isn’t ready. When DaVinci asks for what, Fongji bows to Yu-Ti and thanks him for everything. DaVinci tells her he wishes she would stay as there is much to study. Yu-Ti asks her if she will return, but she simply replies that there are two paths. She then turns and flies away into the night sky leaving the two men with plenty to think about.
(present)Hope is in K’un Lun with Daniel Rand; the Iron Fist, who has been telling her about the connection between the Iron Fist and the Phoenix. Hope asks what happened to the girl. Danny informs her that what he’s told her is everything he knows. Hope asks if she died. Danny can only presume that at some point she did. What he’s telling her happened hundreds of years ago. Hope then asks why she is there. Danny tells her that it’s because she is safe in K’un Lun. More importantly, she can train there. Hope stands up. “Train to become The Phoenix?!” she asks. “That’s all I have done, apparently, my entire life.” She trains and she trains and now the Phoenix is here. And now, she adds, the Phoenix is on Earth and she is stuck in K’un Lun. She’s not even sure what she’s supposed to do when she gets there. Everyone else on the planet is fighting her fight for her. Danny reminds her that it’s not her fight, but Hope asks whose fight is it, then.
Yu-Ti then appears and replies that if she knew that she would be ready. The question is not whose fight it is, the question is why? Danny introduces her to Yu-Ti. Hope is slightly confused. Didn’t that story happen hundreds of years ago? Yu-Ti replies that it’s a ceremonial title. Hope isn’t impressed. She wants to know why she is here in K’un Lun if the Phoenix is on Earth. Yu-Ti replies that the book of the Iron Fist said the girl who became the Iron Fist that merged with the Phoenix was mute. How he envies the master Yu-Ti who had her instead of Hope. Hope grimaces at the insult but then thinks for a moment. “I’m supposed to be Iron Fist now?” she asks. Danny replies that she can’t be as there can be only one and he’s it. However, Yu-Ti says maybe. “Maybe?” replies Danny. Yu-Ti wishes to find out. He asks Hope to follow him and to try not to talk… at all.
He takes her to the Scrying Vessel of Bo-Ling and they each take a seat at either side of the small circular pool. He asks her to sit, empty her mind and allow the water to tell them what they wish to know. She asks how that works, exactly. He tells her that all will be revealed. She looks into the pool and sees a small ripple extending outwards. Yu-Ti again asks her to empty her mind, but Hope stares back at him and ask if, what… is the thing going to tell her future?
Calmly, he asks her to settle herself, but she barrages him with questions, asking if it will tell her how it ends and whether she will become the Phoenix? Can she stop all this crazy and is she an Iron Fist? Can he make her one? Yu-Ti stares back at her but doesn’t answer. Hope gets the message and closes her eyes, attempting to empty her mind. All goes well and a small sphere of water soon rises from the pool. Hope opens a sneaky eye and takes a look, but the water splashes down again. Yu-Ti looks across at her and she apologizes, closing her eyes once again.
Moments later, the sphere rises again and hovers between them at eye level. Now they both open their eyes and see an image forming within the bubble. Hope soon recognizes it as the Phoenix Force. “No,” she gasps. A second image then appears, that of a spider. “Stop it,” she asks. The bubble drops into the water and Yu-Ti states that he found it interesting. Hope states that it’s true. She is the Phoenix. Yu-Ti asks if that is what she took away from that. Hope is a little confused and asks what he took away from it. He informs her that she needs to be trained by the spider. “Say what now?” she replies.
(later)“Say what now?” asks Spider-Man. Yu-Ti asks her to train Hope and teach her everything he knows. He asks if it isn’t he who is the Kung Fu master of all Kung Fu masters. Shouldn’t he be doing that? Yu-Ti tells him it is now his turn. Spider-Man asks if she hasn’t already been trained by Cyclops and Wolverine. And Cable, adds Hope. Yu-Ti replies yes, but now it is his turn. Spider-Man asks if they couldn’t have done that back in New York. Yu-Ti points out that he could, but he wouldn’t have known to do it. Spidey tells him that Wolverine actually is a teacher (much to the shock of all mankind), and Danny here knows all this stuff. “I wonder if you are to teach her self-loathing,” replies Yu-Ti as he walks away. Spidey quips that self-loathing is what he has his doctorate in. Danny reckons they should get to it, but Hope asks what they are all on? Danny tells them they’ll be at the portal.
Once he has departed, Hope points to Spidey’s costume and tells him she isn’t dressing like that. Spidey is pleased about that because there are already, like, eight spider-ladies. Spidey isn’t sure how to begin, but Hope snaps at him, asking him to figure it out while she is figuring out what exactly she has been put on Earth to do, how she ended up in a magical Kung Fu city where no one teaches anyone Kung Fu and what she is supposed to do when the cosmic powers of a big firebird dump themselves right on her head!
She adds that right now she’s pretty sure the world is going to explode and everyone’s going to blame her for it. She didn’t ask for any of this. Not one damn bit of it. Spidey replies that with great power comes great responsibility. Hope stands, hands on hips, and asks what she’s supposed to do with that. He replies that it’s something his uncle used to say. It was before he got bitten by the spider that gave him his spider powers and everyone started blaming him for everything that ever happened to New York City. The thing is, when he said it, he didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. He didn’t figure it out until it was too late; until some idiot with a gun shot and killed his uncle. An idiot who he could have pretty much definitely stopped if hadn’t been so busy worrying about himself and instead, really listening to the words his uncle was saying. With great power comes great responsibility, he repeats, adding that ever since that day he’s been trying to live a life that resembles what those words mean. “And I can tell you they mean everything.”
He offers Hope some advice. He tells her that you can live every day of your life trying to think of something more profound or more ‘on the nose,’ but for people like them who suddenly find themselves looking out at a crazy world and not knowing what the hell they’re supposed to be doing in it, he can tell her that just remembering that with great power comes great responsibility can completely define you. He turns and walks away, but she runs after him and asks him to wait. She asks if he said anything else. He keeps walking so she continues to chase him. “Should I get a new costume?” she asks. “Maybe I should,” she whispers to herself.
(many years ago)FongjiYu-TiLei King and his students
The Phoenix ForceLeonardo DaVinci
(present)Iron Fist, Spider-Man
This is part of the AVX crossover.
Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben first appeared and was shot and killed in Amazing Fantasy (1st series) #15.