Friday, October 11, 2013

Avengers Arena v1: Kill or Die TPB

One of my biggest pet peeves in comics is when writers kill off other people’s characters. When a writer needs a big dramatic death, they need to kill characters that they themselves developed. It’s easy to throw some pre-existing favorites out to get killed in order to make your own creations seem cooler.
So this book is not really a good fit for me.


In fact, the only way I’m OK with this book at all is if this ends up as some sort of virtual reality or LMD situation. The book isn’t bad, but there is simply no excuse for killing off pre-existing characters so that Marvel can rip off the success of Battle Royale and the Hunger Games. 

And they aren’t even hiding it! The covers are straight-up homages!
I actually made it through this pretty easily, since the only favorite of mine who made the roster is Darkhawk. But I know that the Runaways and Avengers Academy do have fans. They certainly can’t be happy with how their favorites make out.

Dennis Hopeless does a nice job with the Braddock Academy, the super-school of England. Hopeless populates the school with Marvel-legacy students (like a Bloodstone and an Atlantean). I’m always impresses when creators can insert new characters into the universe, but make it feel like the character has been there all along. The Braddock Academy totally fits into that mold. Cullen Bloodstone is a likable kid, even if I don’t see what his powers are yet. And Anachronism is tailor-made to be a fan favorite too. A computer nerd swapped in the body of a barbarian? Perfect.

I also like the use of the Red Raven name for another throwaway victim. Again, no fans followed her adventures and feel shortchanged by her death.

So cheap death as a selling point is not going to win me over. That’s why I got this book from the library, not in the comic store. BUT, I’m going to have to take it all back if Dennis Hopeless ends up pulling a con and these characters are still alive. Because he does a really nice job writing this huge cast in character. Clearly the new Deathlocket character is his favorite, but he does a particularly nice job with the Runaways, Nico and Chase. They have that same sense of desperation that they do in their own comic.

Kev Walker’s art is solid, as always. Most of the backgrounds are pretty well populated, giving the new Murderworld a clear “feel” as a hostile location. Walker’s take on Arcade is pretty far out considering his old look, but again, if this is some sort of simulation, that is easily explained. Walker’s Darkhawk is more bulky than sleek, but that helmet looks tremendous. And Cammi’s space suit is very effective in making her more of a sci-fi character than a normal human would seem to be.

So I don’t know how to grade this one either. If this is a simulation, or the slain characters are actually alive, then this is GOOD. If Hopeless actually did have to resort to cheap kills to ramp up the drama, then this book is EVIL. 

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