About a year ago, a brand new book called ‘Avengers Arena’ from Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker that sounded like Marvel’s version of ‘The Hunger Games’/’Battle Royale’ debuted to mix feelings. But as the book progressed and the audience explored Murder World, fans began to rally behind it despite the promise of all our favorite characters dying. Fast forward to this week where the series has come to an end. We’ve known for a few months now that this would be the last issue, so as we drew nearer to the finale, it was expected that there would be some big things happening in Arcade’s sick and twisted game. Well, after having read the issue, I’m a little lukewarm on the whole thing.
Now, it could very well be the shock that I was in after reading the book, but the book as a whole didn’t really hit me like I thought that it would. Maybe I would have had more of a reaction if I didn’t know that the survivors would be showing up in ‘Avengers Undercover’ next year. Even still, there were a lot of questions in my mind pertaining to the events that unfolded. For instance, I’m not really sure what happened to Cullen, X-23, Chris Powell, and Hazmat. Especially Hazmat, actually. I think my major hang-up with this issue is the amount of uncertainty in the kids’ fates.
That being said, the casualties suffered on the final day of the game were extremely meaningful. There’s one in particular that I don’t want to spoil, but it took me a minute to turn the page because I was like, “NOOOOOOOO!!!!!”. The way that this hero went out was a big moment and it felt big. It might have been my favorite (and by that I mean most heart-breaking) death of the series. Definitely top three deaths of the run.
Another aspect of the issue that I liked a lot was the argument brought up in the closing moments about young costumed heroes and who’s to blame for this tragedy. Could better training have helped these kids? Should they be allowed to face supervillains? This is a theme that tends to reoccur with younger heroes and I’m always fascinated with how each series handles it. Hopefully Hopeless will continue to explore this thought in his next series featuring the survivors of Murder World.Avengers Undercover
And then there’s the ending itself. Regardless of how I felt after finishing the whole issue, I was definitely left wanting more and clamoring for what’s happening next. Partially it’s because of those loose ends that I mentioned earlier, but it’s mostly because I wanted to see Arcade get his comeuppance. I can only hope that this is another thing that gets explored in ‘Avengers Undercover’ because this grey-area ending is just eating away at me.
Overall, ‘Avengers Arena’ was a fun series to follow. I didn’t think that we’d get as much drama out of it as we did, even with all the teen heroes involved, and a few of the twists and the turns in the story certainly surprised me. It’s no wonder why Dennis Hopeless was nominated for various breakout awards for this book. And though the finale didn’t hit me like I anticipated, it still managed to evoke some emotions from me resulting in the mindset that there will be a void in my pull list from now until March with this no longer being a thing.
AVENGERS ARENA #18
Written by Dennis Hopeless
Art by Kev Walker, Jason Gorder, & Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Cover by Dave Johnson