With only 3 issues left to go, Avengers Arena is really ramping things up for it’s big ending with this issue, as serious stuff goes down, and another character bites the dust in a tragic way that really has me wanting the next part right fucking now.
The focus of this issue is on Nara the Atlantean, who until this point has mainly been hanging around in the background, being a bit of a bitch and causing love triangles. This issue not only finally sheds some light on her origin, but allows her character to grow out of ‘love triangle bitch’ and do something heroic. And then she dies, oh dear.
Most of this issue is taken up with Cullen Bloodstone’s monstrous rampage after he removed his magic ring and allowed the ‘Glartrox’ that had possessed him to take over so he could fight X-23. The action here was pretty damn great, and it also brought back the likes of Reptil, Chase and Nico into the fold, as most of our remaining heroes are back in the same place, trying to stop Cullen/Glartrox.
But as I said, the main focus is Nara, who can’t bear to watch her boyfriend Anachronism go through watching his best friend become a monster, and perhaps even have to kill him. So she tries to forgo her inclination to not care, and try and find Cullen’s magic ring so he can go back to human form. Nara’s origin story is pretty simple, she’s an Atlantean, her parents were royal guards who plotted with Attuma to kill Namor, and then she was exiled, but not before Namor told her to never trust anyone but herself, like he does. Simple, but effective, especially as we see Nara try and move past Namor’s advice in this issue. In the end, she does manage to save Cullen, finding the Ring and turning him back to normal, but in the process… Monster-Cullen kills her.
The last page sees Anachronism let out a scream of anguish, so I can’t wait to see what happens next, I bet it’s going to be tragic, especially if Anachronism ends up killing his best friend in a berserker rage. This truly is an excellent book, and the ‘Battle Royale’ premise continues to be a winner, the stakes are life and death, so even best friends may turn on each other, and everything is so heightened and exciting.
It should also be said that Hopeless has done a really good job at creating new characters and making me the reader care about them. Nara, Cullen and Anachronism first appeared in #1 of this book, and after only 15 issues I’m as invested in them as I am characters like the Runaways or X-23 that have been around for years. It’s great writing, and it makes it all the sweeter when they die. I care when these characters die, and that’s the point, this is far from the mindless meat-grinder that the tumblr-critics would have you believe it, it’s far more character-focused than that. Throw in the best work of Kev Walker’s career (Monster Cullen looked amazing, great Kirby-esque monsters) and this is just a fantastic comic every issue. Roll on the next issue and the tragedy and feels, roll on more death and destruction, it’s glorious.