Written by Dennis Hopeless
Pencils by Riccardo Burchielli
Published by Marvel Comics
Being lost somewhere amongst all the fan boy crying about its faux Hunger Games styling’s, its catastrophic body count and the fact that its connection to the titular franchise is tenuous to say the least, is the fact that Avengers Arena is a tightly put together little series. The art of using a team up book to give a home to homeless but fan favourite characters is almost as old as super hero comics themselves, but never before has a book taken well liked characters and treated them with such brazen contempt before casting them aside as if they were an incidental character from The Walking Dead
The thing I like most about AA is the fact that it’s not afraid to double bluff the readers. Were constantly offered up hope spots for one of the protagonists, and then, at the last moment, they get killed anyway. It’s a move used most recently by Dan Slott in The Superior Spiderman to dispel audience expectation of how Peter Parker is going to return, and much like in that series I can’t help but feel the seeming deaths are actually a red herring. It also has much in common with some of the series that it has culled its main characters from (Runaways and Avengers Academy spring immediately to mind), combining teen angst, romance, and hi tech sidekick murder expertly.
After ten issues of relentless mayhem and b-list character slaughter in the new look Murder World, issue #11 finds Hazmat and Reptyl (of Avengers Academy “fame”) taking a bit of a time out from nearly getting killed to enjoy some beach side R and R. Turns out that all the death and destruction has caused our Miss Hazmat to go a little crazy and it’s up to Reptyl and the rest of the misfit combatants to talk her round. The pace is slowed right down in comparison with recent issues so this issue is not up to the excellent standard that we’ve come to expect, but what is here is well written allowing Denis Hopeless to flesh out two of the most vanilla characters in The Marvel Universe. The stylised art is perfect for the storyline’s vibe and there are enough dangling plot threads and unanswered questions left to ensure that this will remain on my pull list for the foreseeable future. Additionally the idea of Chase from Runaways as the new Darkhawk is such an awesome idea that I refuse to believe that it’s not going to be taken away from me sooner rather than later. God damn it.
3.5 out of 5 Nerds.