Ever since Avengers Arena began, one of the burning questions (apart from ‘WHY GOD WHY, WHY KILL MY TEEN SHIP BABIES?’ Fuck you Tumblr fans) has been ‘How come none of the adult superheroes have noticed these characters have disappeared and how come none of them have gone looking?’. Well, in this issue, Christos Gage steps in to answer that question, and it’s a very satisfying and enjoyable issue.
Gage of course wrote a lot of the stars of Arena previously in Avengers Academy, so he knows his way around teen superheroes, and also how to write Hank Pym, who is the central protagonist this issue. The reason why nobody has noticed that the kids are missing is that Arcade has covered it up. He’s made sure he kidnapped heroes who had a reason to leave, and made excuses that make sense. So, as far as anyone knows, Reptil has disappeared to search for his parents in the Savage Land, and other stuff like that. To help this cover-up, he’s falsifying text messages and emails from everyone, and even going so far as to use LMDs of Juston Seyfert, and using the robot Mettle we saw at the end of #12.
But of course, there’s still suspicion, and it makes a lot of sense that it’s mostly coming from the Runaways. Those characters are supposed to be a family, so it rings the most false that Nico and Chase ran away. It also makes sense that it’s not an adult hero who first has suspicions, but Molly Hayes, the youngest superhero out there. Sometimes a kid can see things that an adult would miss. Molly brings this up to Pym, and he goes around the Marvel Universe trying to discover clues, but of course, he comes up short.
I especially liked seeing how SHIELD have to deal with teleportation, and the way Gage depicts as being like trying to combat computer viruses was great fun, I really like it when stupid superhero stuff is taken a little bit more realistically. I also loved the scene where Pym is on the phone to Wolverine, and the hilarious background stuff between Glob Herman and Transonic, that was classic Gage.
Also very interesting was the closing scene with Arcade. If Murderworld is him trying to get his rep back, why is he keeping it a secret? Is he trying to commit ‘suicide by cape’? I have no idea, but Hopeless and now Gage have really made this guy a fascinating villain. His reputation may not be much better in the Marvel Universe, but in the real world? It’s much improved.
Karl Moline provides the art here, and he does an excellent job, he worked with Gage before on an Avengers Academy/Runaways story, so it’s cool to see him return to those characters here, and his lighter, more traditional superhero style works well for an issue set away from the Island. So, whilst this issue probably won’t please the fans who want the Avengers to find their babies and rescue them, it did help explain just how this story can work in a shared universe, and was damn entertaining in it’s own right.