I’ve really been enjoying Avengers Arena, and not just because it makes Tumblr cry, but because it’s a book with real stakes and a sense that anything could happen, a feeling that is all-too-rare in modern day superhero comics. This issue takes a break from the battle royale and explains just how Arcade went from being a goofy loser to someone capable of pulling this current, deadly scheme off. The answer is… he was tired of being made fun of by all the other super-villains and after squishing Constrictor (whatever happened to him being a quasi-hero? Did that end at the same time as Avengers: The Initiative).
It feels strange to say this, but I actually felt kind of sorry for Arcade in this issue during the birthday part scenes. He was the last of the honourable villains who hadn’t been turned grim and gritty and murderous, but now that’s over with and he’s killing kids. It’s tragic in a way. But then I don’t really like ‘honourable’ villains, such as Flash’s rogues, I think badguys should be bad, and in this issue, Hopeless delivered that. I’m excited to get back to the kids on the island (especially after the ending to #6 where Kid Briton was fucking decapitated), but this was useful context, and as I said, it gave Arcade some real depth.