Review: Avengers Arena #1

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Avengers-Arena-1Avengers Arena has taken a lot of flack for being a Hunger Games rip off.  But when the title is a lot of fun, why complain?

Dennis Hopeless certainly knows how to start off a series.  I have no questions as to how this series is going to work going forward.  While I hope that Hopeless will show how each student was abducted, it’s not a nagging feeling.  I would be contempt if we never saw the rest.  Hopeless seems to be having fun writing Arcade, who is equally kooky and menacing.  Hazmat was a good choice to narrate the opening issue.  Her tragedy at the end helps show the reader that Hopeless won’t be pulling any punches during this series.  There is quite the large cast, but only a few characters get any time to shine in this issue.  While the set up was needed, a few other characters could have had some type of dialogue.  Especially Darkhawk, who has deserved to be the star of a book for some time.  I’d like to see Hopeless do something along the lines of what Nick Spencer is doing in Morning Glories.  Each month, you see different characters in the same time frame.

While there is a lot of fun here, there are also some worries.  Once finishing the issue, I see why Arcade was the right villain for the book, as he has the know how to create a threat like this.  But is he doing it strictly for the sake of killing people?  It’s shallow, and doesn’t provide a lot of material for an ongoing series.  There are plenty of directions that this title could go in.  I’ve read some theories that this book will turn into a Runaways style book, or an evil version of Avengers Academy.  But for now, all I see is kids killing each other.  And while fun, it won’t keep readers around for that long.  The ending might keep people around for a while though.  While killing a character off won’t happen every issue, it gives the series a The Walking Dead style atmosphere of “who is going to die next?”  Avengers Arena has a spot in my pull list for the first six months, and maybe longer depending on how those issues go.

Kev Walker is one aspect of Avengers Arena that I have no complaints about.  He pencils every character with a body to match their powers.  It makes the stronger characters who are stronger stand out more in a crowd.  Walker gives each character subtle facial work, making it stand out from the grimacing heroes of every other book.  Every character is quite detailed.  Reptil is specifically worth noting.  Mettle, who has no eye lids, gets some amazing eyes from Walker.  They have so much emotion in them, that the reader can’t help but sympathize with him.  Hopefully Walker can stay on time with this book.  Arcade’s fight against the students looked great, and had some amazing panel progression.  The final page, which is a shocker before the art, hits the reader that much harder.  Frank Martin adds quite a bit of color to the proceedings.  It’s a dark issue, but the spandex clad students pop off the page.  There is a lot of fire in this issue, which Martin gives a nice tint too.  The burnt X-23 looks disgusting.  And awesome.

Avengers Arena has a lot of potential for a series.  If you liked Avengers Academy, give this book a shot.

Avengers Arena gets 3.5/5.

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