Back in December, we were introduced to ‘Avengers Arena’, the hot new teen hero title from Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker where super-villain Arcade transported sixteen of the Marvel Universe’s most formidable youngsters to his Murder World to fight to the death, similar to the young adult novels that are all the rage these days.
In the two issues since the first, our heroes have separated into camps in an effort to collaborate with allies in order to form a plan to get out of Arcade’s game. The players haven’t fully committed to seek and destroy mode just yet, but there is something out there causing some trouble. While a mysterious menace has been attacking the camps, a few stragglers and loners roam around on their own in hopes of finding a place or just staying alive. In issue two, we follow Ryker, who adapts the codename Deathlocket after joining the camp maintained by the students of the Braddock Academy and sharing her history with them. In issue three, we learn of the mysterious origins of Cammi, an Earth girl who has rolled with the likes of Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy, specifically Drax the Destroyer, who chooses not to align with any camp in favor of scoping things out on her own.
Since the beginning of the run, Hopeless has made good on his promise that someone would perish from the group in every issue. So far, Mettle and Red Raven have been eliminated, which wittles the group down to fourteen, but in issue three there may be two deaths! One definitely, but there could have been one more. I’m not entirely sure exactly. We’ll find out together in issue four.
So far, my level of interest has varied from issue to issue. It started high with the first issue, then dropped for the second issue, then rose again for the third. In book two, the story was more focused on one character, Deathlocket, and less on what was going on in the game. I understand that it’s necessary to pedal out the back-story, especially for the lesser-known characters, but it seems more interesting to me to see what’s going on in the game. Issue three focused more on that, while still revealing more about Darkhawk and Cammi. Hopefully, as the story continues on, we get to focus more on the task at hand rather than flashbacks. Characters are important, and we have to care about them, but by having so many characters that aren’t very well known, all the exposition is absolutely necessary. For me though, it worked better in the third issue than in the second.
One thing in issue three that totally had my interest was the issue of Darkhawk’s age. I’m glad that they addressed that he’s much older than the rest of the group because when I first saw his name on the roster I thought the exact same thing. His line about “once a teen hero, always a teen hero” was great.
Finally, the covers for the available issues are great. The homages to the novels that are similar to ‘Avengers Arena’ are a wonderful touch. Though issue one has my favorite cover right now, I’m absolutely enamored by Greg Horn’s ‘Hunger Games’ piece on the cover of #3. I’m curious though as to what the covers will look like after they run out of books to pay tribute to. I’m sure they’ll still be cool, but it’ll be hard to beat these covers.
Despite being flashback heavy at times, I still stick with what I said back in my review of the inaugural issue by saying that this whole title is intriguing and I can’t wait for the next issue. After all, my favorite characters like X-23, Chase, and Nico have yet to have much page time, which is probably a good thing so they don’t end up with a huge red X on their picture on the recap page. Also, we haven’t heard from Arcade in a while, so I’m curious to see what he’s up to while the festivities are going on.
Avengers Arena #3
Written By Dennis Hopeless
Art By Kev Walker & Frank Martin
Cover By Greg Horn