I love those moments in reviewing comics when I mention something that I want to see happen and then in the next issue, it actually happens. In my review of the last issue of ‘Avengers Arena’, I said that my favorite characters in this title like X-23, Chase, and Nico have yet to have much page time. Well, either I’m just impatient or someone out there in comic book land likes me because that’s exactly what we got in the latest issue.
Back in issue 3, Darkhawk AKA Chris Powell, the oldest contestant in Arcade’s sick little game, seemingly perished at the end of the book after spending the majority of the story patrolling the area alone trying to find out who’s been attacking the various camps on Murder World. After he enlists the help of Cammi to find this night stalker, that’s when he potentially meets his end. And although it looks pretty clear from the last page that he’s a goner, on the recap page of the new issue, there’s a question mark on his face instead of an X, so I don’t really know what happened to him.
Now, in the latest issue of Dennis Hopeless’ kill-em-all teen comic, the Runaways take center stage. This specific book follows Chase Stein and Nico Minoru as they try to join the camp of the kids from Avengers Academy. Though they approach Hazmat, Reptil, and X-23 peacefully, things don’t actually turn out in their favor when Chase is blamed for an injury that Reptil sustains while they were taking a walk away from camp.
I really like the direction that Hopeless is taking this book in. After this issue, and especially after the last page, I have a feeling that Chase and Nico will be taking a more prominent role from this point forward. Both of them were great members of The Runaways, but now we’re getting to see another side of them here. I’m sure we’d see a different side of anybody if death was constantly looming above their heads, but that’s beside the point.Variant cover by Bobby Rubio
Speaking of different sides of people, we get a whole page of X-23, the stone cold killer clone of Wolverine, letting her guard down and enjoying the fruit that Chase and Nico brought to their camp. That’s not a side we see very often and this instance didn’t last very long, but it was still nice to see.
It’s also interesting to note that no one actually died in this issue, and that’s a good thing. Not only is it good that another hero didn’t perish, but it’s also good for the longevity of the series considering if someone died in every issue, then it would only be around for 8 more. This wasn’t announced as a miniseries, so it’s good that things are being stretched out a bit.
Finally, I like the artist change that came in this issue as Alessandro Vitti took over for Kev Walker. Vitti has a similar style to Jim Cheung, one of my favorite comic book artists, and the style lends very well to younger characters. The difference between Cheung and Vitti though is that the latter artist doesn’t show as much variation in faces, especially with X-23, Nico, and Hazmat. They look very similar to one another in a lot of the shots. It’s not super distracting, but it’s something that I noticed. You can still tell them apart because of the great job he does with their costumes, but the faces just look a lot alike in some places.
Overall, this book is still a lot of fun. It’s definitely not just a kill-fest like a lot of people expected when it was first announced. There’s some really good character development going on in ‘Avengers Arena’ and I hope it continues.
Avengers Arena #4
Written By Dennis Hopeless
Art By Alessandro Vitti & Frank Martin
Cover By Dave Johnson