What happens when you take the Avengers Academy students, a couple of The Runaways, and sprinkle in some various teenage superheroes scattered from different places in the Marvel Universe? You probably get some cheesy, event storyline that results in the formation of a new teenage super-team that overcomes all the odds against them and learns that growing up isn’t always easy amidst venturing through the growing pains of puberty and maturity and that their true potential really lies within all of them working together despite their differences in age, gender, race, hometown, favorite band, super power or whichever side they chose during AvX this summer.
Now what happens when you take four parts of the Avengers Academy students, two parts of The Runaways, salt & pepper some various teenage superheroes from different areas in the Marvel Universe, and throw them in Murder World edition blender with Arcade pushing the buttons? You get a Battle Royale/The Hunger Games inspired comic book called Avengers Arena #1
Our friendly introduction to the book starts through the eyes of Jennifer Takeda, a.k.a. Hazmat. It’s Christmas Eve, and most of the teachers at the Avengers Academy campus are partying it up at Tony Stark’s Christmas Party, while the other students have gone home for the holidays. So what else do teenagers do for the holiday while unsupervised? One fixes his Sentinel, two play ping pong, and Hazmat and Mettle are looking to lose their virginity. Cut to –the entire roster of teens are suspended in the air above molten lava, unable to have any control over their bodies, and no knowledge of how they got there. Then Arcade shows up and demonstrates his insane power in the death trap arena, aptly named “Murder World” and that only one of them can survive.
Dennis Hopeless wastes absolutely no time getting the reader to feel nothing but endearment for the teenage couple of Hazmat and Mettle. Their gushy dialogue doesn’t get facetious and you truly feel that Mettle really loves this girl. Hopeless has also significantly given Arcade a nice revamp in the “sniveling genius villain” department. While Arcade does feel “edgier” than past renditions, he’s still the same narcissistic, evil mastermind. Hopeless keeps the pace fast in order to establish the rules and the stakes here in Avengers Arena and makes sure to follow the rule of teenage horror movies: If you have sex, then you die!
Artist Kev Walker briskly keeps up the pace established by writer Dennis Hopeless, with some great art in panels of Hazmat burning X-23′s flesh, creepy close-ups of a devious Arcade, to a resounding splatter death on the last page. The close-ups of Hazmat’s welling emotion and Arcade’s sinister smile are some of my many favorites in this issue. Frank Martin does some nice touches of color to Walker’s, making sure that Murder World is vibrantly red in it’s introduction to the reader to the green, noxious gas that radiates from Hazmat’s suit.
Frankly, this series has polarized many readers who are fans of this title because they do not want to see their favorite characters dying. They love the characters, but don’t want to see them die. Let me break it to you guys; these characters have had cancelled runs and simply put, have a difficult time co-existing anywhere else in the Marvel Universe. Though it breaks my heart to say it, each one of these characters are completely disposable and we should all be thankful that Hopeless, Walker, and Martin are giving us another shot at enjoying them. While some characters may stay dead (please keep Darkhawk and Nico alive!), who knows what their future will hold –it is comic books after all…
Comment below and follow me on Twitter @roderickruth and tell me who you think will survive!