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Ritten RUview: Avengers Arena #1 - SPOILERS

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Rain Partier

Postby LOLtron » Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:19 am

Ritten RUview: Avengers Arena #1 - SPOILERS

This isn't your father's Murder World.

Avengers Arena #1
Written by: Dennis Hopeless
Art by: Kev Walker
Published by: Marvel

Its easy to look on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, or any comic book website (The Outhousers is the best) and see all the whining about Avengers Arena and just want all these kids to die just to spite these people who have been whining for (feels like) two years about a book that hasn’t even come out yet.

It’s really easy.

But, instead, and this is the weird part, I decided to read the book before deciding if it was worse than Honey Boo-Boo and because I like some of the characters and not morbid curiosity. 

First and foremost, the main reasons I wanted to read Avengers Arena are named Darkhawk and Arcade (yes, I’m old.) Darkhawk was always that hero that you knew could be cool if he could just catch a break, and that break came with The Marvel cosmic event War Of Kings by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning and continued into Realm Of Kings.  On the flip side, Arcade was that silly villain who reminded me of early Bond baddies, with overly elaborate plans when a gun would do, and, yet, I’ve held out hope that, someday, he’d become the creepy toymaker worthy of the name Murder World.  Avengers Arena #1 is sorely lacking in the Darkhawk department, but WOW is Arcade finally a badass.

Spoilers for Avengers Arena #1 to follow (to avoid them do a “ctrl-F” for “Thus endith the spoilers” and then scroll fast so you don’t see whats above that line)



All we know from the “before the credits” scene is that Hazmat and X-23 are in their 23rd day of something very unpleasant.  It's so unpleasant that Hazmat ends up burning off X-23’s face, so that happened.  After the credits page, the comic opens on Christmas Eve at the Avengers Academy campus, where boys play with their sentinels, living weapons learn how to play Ping-Pong, and teenage love is in the (radioactive) air.  Next thing we know, our heroes awaken in stasis, being monologued at by a long haired, taller, skinnier version of Arcade than I’ve ever seen.  This isn’t just artistic license.  There is something going on here with Arcade that is different then before.  Something awesome.  He is “not the villain here. [He is] the God!” His new powers are not explained in this issue, but if I were to venture a guess, take a look at the New Avengers ad in X-Men #39 for a hint to what I think happened.

New and improved Arcade’s monologue confirms what we already knew: teenage heroes kill each other for his amusement.  It’s a total rip off of something that was a rip off of something else (but that thing is Japanese so we ignore that it too was a rip off as well). Arcade even gives a nod to his inspiration for his new Murder World:

"Got the idea from a couple of kids’ books I read."

But, so what? That is Arcade taking an idea and making it (more) violent, like a pinball machine.  That Arcade ripped off Hunger Games makes sense in the book, in continuity, and in character.

After the requisite fight where one bad guy defeats a group of heroes, we catch up with Mettle and Hazmat as they discuss their plans.  Hazmat wants to beat in Arcade’s head.  Mettle wants to do whatever they can to survive.  While all this is going on, Arcade is counting down from 10;  if the kids don’t decide who dies first, who the weak link is, he does.  At five, Hazmat tries to burn Arcade to the ground and fails.  Thus, Arcade’s choice is made for him, unless some one wants to step up.

Enter Mettle, making himself Arcade’s tribute, who is immediately blown up.  There you go.  There is your big controversy for issue one, Mettle died.

He died protecting the girl he loves.
He died hoping she’d figure out a way to live, to survive.
He died in character.
He died a hero.






Thus endith the spoilers

Avengers Arena #1 is a good comic book.

We can complain all we want about deaths in comics for shock value, that it wastes opportunities, that they don’t matter anywas, or that they are just plain played out.  All of these are valid critiques of the current comic book industry and its bad comics, but, they are not applicable when a book is entertaining in spite of these complaints, and this one is.

Hopeless’ writing is spot on for these characters, from Arcade’s self-assurance, to the teenagers fear, confidence, and love.  Its been a while since a villain in a Marvel book really creeped me out and made me actually fear for the heroes, but Hopeless was able to pull it off, with Arcade of all people. He deserves a medal just for that alone.

Kev Walker’s art reminds me of a cleaned up version of Chris Bachalo’s run on Shade, The Changing Man – and I mean that as a compliment.  Looking at the last page is almost worth all the impending deaths on its own.  Arcade’s smug look, combined with Hazmat’s horror at her situation, makes for a compelling “to be continued” image.

At least it did for me.  I want to know what is going on.  I want to know what the twist will be.  I want to know why none of the adults noticed that the students are gone.  I want to know, and this is most important, if I'm a right about Arcade’s new powers.

Take away drummed up controversy, hipster screams of “so and so did it first,” and crazy internet ramblings, and you are left with a good comic book that has a lot of potential for success or failure, depending on where it goes and how drawn out the initial “kill all the heroes” story-line goes.

That is, if you bother to read it before having an opinion.

When this book was announced, I was in the "wait and see what people say" camp.   Now I'm in the "where is issue two already?!" camp.

Written or Contributed by GHERU

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Rain Partier

Postby GHERU » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:03 am

Please be kind when pointing out typos
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Silly French Man

Postby habitual » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:32 am

I've heard next issue they resurrect Mammomax to quiet down the haters.

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2k11 Outhouse People's Champion

Postby sdsichero » Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:08 pm

GHERU wrote:Please be kind when pointing out typos

Messaging you something...
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Staff Writer

Postby e_galston » Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:41 pm

i really liked the first issue... And i'm a HUGE fan of pretty much every teen character out there. Granted i don't think everything is as it seems...
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Rain Partier

Postby GHERU » Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:48 pm

sdsichero wrote:
Messaging you something...

thank you
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2k11 Outhouse People's Champion

Postby sdsichero » Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:07 pm

GHERU wrote:thank you

De nada.

I'll find out in a couple months when I get around to reading it. I hope it's good.
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Rain Partier

Postby DMM » Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:29 pm

The art looks fantastic. Hmmm...
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Postby Porcelain38 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:00 pm

My letter got printed in the back of this issue!
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Postby ElijahSnowFan » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:02 pm

First things first: What a cynical premise for a comic book. I don't quite know why Marvel is doing books with young characters not sell anymore? Or did they look at their projections and simply see no use for these particular characters?

That being said: I said I would try the first issue because of one thing: I said it before, but years ago, I thought Kyle & Yost's X-Force of hunters and killers was the stupidest idea I ever heard...but the book turned out to be really good. Then I said they couldn't duplicate it again with Uncanny X-Force...and that book was very good, as well.

So, I decided to give this first issue a chance, because if there's one thing I believe about comics right now, it's that unusual ideas just might lead to unexpectedly good stories.

I'll say it: I liked this issue. Don't get me wrong, I think the death component is ridiculous in the book, and I don't know that it won't ever be ridiculous.

But I thought the execution of this issue, from the writing to the art, was good. It was.

I think this book is something that can and will be retconned at some point, in some way. Whatever characters die pointless deaths here will be brought back, and I'm approaching it that way.

But I am interested in seeing if the book can continue to be executed at a high level. I'm truly curious about that. I'm not familiar with every one of the 16 characters in the book, so I'm curious if Dennis Hopeless can introduce them and make me care about them over the span of the story. That is what I'm trying to see in this book, and I thought he did a pretty good job of it in this first issue, because while I was relatively familiar with Hazmat and Mettle, it was interesting to see the interaction between them before the outcome.

Arcade, too, was written well.

So, for me...

Story: 1 (the premise is pretty cynical, which is sad to say)
Writing: 8
Art: 8

I'll definitely check out the next issue, to see what Marvel's trying to do with this thing.
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fieldy snuts

Rain Partier

Postby fieldy snuts » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:29 pm

What was this New Avengers ad you're talking about?

Really good book though and the death was done really well. Bring on more murder!
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Rain Partier

Postby GHERU » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:41 pm

fieldy snuts wrote:What was this New Avengers ad you're talking about?

Really good book though and the death was done really well. Bring on more murder!

The New Avengers ad I saw mentioned Infinity Gems, that made me think that all the blue around Arcade when he used his powers might be the work of him having a gem

just a theory
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Staff Writer

Postby e_galston » Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:21 pm

GHERU wrote:The New Avengers ad I saw mentioned Infinity Gems, that made me think that all the blue around Arcade when he used his powers might be the work of him having a gem

just a theory

i'm actually thinking this is a big computer game or something, i mean each character had a "health bar." And as you said Arcade looked different than he normally does, so its possibly his "ideal" image of himself as an in-game avatar


Postby 3MJ » Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:27 pm

I'm apprehensive about this, now I have heard "Everything might not be what it seems"

Looking forward to it though. Reviews are very positive (obviously)
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Staff Writer

Postby IvCNuB4 » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:09 am

Since they based this series on two movies why not continue that theme for the ending also ?

"Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2" perhaps ? :wink:

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