Review: Avengers Arena #13
While Avengers Arena has been good, the question of, “Why has no one noticed these children missing?” has been a constant nag in the back of my head. Christos Gage and Karl Moline tackle that in Avengers Arena #13, and it leads to good results.
Christos Gage, writer of the much underrated Avengers Academy, tackles this question head on. Hank Pym goes through the history of a lot of the children to see if he can find a connection between them, and why they might be missing. As you might have guessed, Arcade has prepared for this. What follows is Gage’s usual brilliance for writing about teenagers. He tackles topics such as love, over bearing parents, abandonment, and host of others. Unlike most writers, Gage makes the teenage dialogue feel real. Too often the dialogue comes across as cliché and melodramatic, but reader can hear themselves saying these lines when they were a teenager (if they aren’t anymore). Gage has also been one of the best writers for Hank Pym. His father figure mentality for the kids in the Academy comes across as heartfelt and honest. It’s actually quite sweet in a way.
Arcade’s “trump card” is a little too convenient in my mind. The way Gage writes his dialogue, it seems that he just deployed numerous Life Model Decoys (LMD), and then changed the memory. I feel like deploying these right away would have been a better plan. By the end of the issue, it seems that this was Gage’s original intention. It would be odd for Arcade to not plan on this, and just wait for someone to react. Eventually SOMEONE was going to miss these kids, so why not send them out right away. This is a problem that could have been fixed by editing before it went to print. The plan itself is a brilliant one, and it brings up a interesting conundrum for Arcade as a villain. If anything, it makes him more formidable, as he has no problem with dying as long as he is remembered as a true villain.
Karl Moline does a good job on artwork, but pales in comparison compared to Kev Walker. There seems to be a problem with Mark Pennington’s inks. Some of the faces are inked too heavily, which makes them look odd. Moline’s artwork is slightly stronger than his work on Avengers Academy. Women’s bodies aren’t as cartoonishly thin. Facial expressions are handled better. When Pym is having difficulty coping with teenagers moving on, it really hits the reader. A part of me felt a little nostalgia, as it was great to see all the Avengers Academy kids back in a comic book again. Moline was one of the main artists near the end of that book’s run.
Avengers Arena #13 answers some pertinent questions about the series, and has a good side plot. #13 is a very enjoyable issue, even with its flaws.
Avengers Arena #13 gets 3.5/5.