Pop quiz hot shot: how many of the jabronis can you name?
Written by Dennis Hopless
Art by Kev Walker
Published by Marvel Comics
One of the hallmarks of a truly great piece of art is that you walk away thinking about it. With genre fiction this is doubly true. Films like the Shining or Books like Planet of The Apes dare to leave you with an ending open to interpretation, and then dare YOU to draw your own conclusions. It happens in comics too from time to time sometimes for effect – like in Watchmen – and sometimes foreshadowing another series- like at the end of Infinite Crisis. The conclusion of Avengers Arena seems to be somewhere in the middle.
Issue 18 brings us to the senses shattering conclusion of our pound-shop meta human Lord Of The flies saga as the remaining combatants find themselves in pitched battle against not only everything that the new and improved Murderworld can throw at them , but each other. Ultimately the real world comes crashing in on the island. Characters live and characters Die; for once it feels like the deaths mean something. And you walk away asking yourself questions.
The shrewd idea of taking a dozen characters – who were either in desperate need of a new home or created out of whole cloth-and throwing them together without explaining who they were, what their powers are, or how they got there could have been a disaster . Take a look at the lack of explanation and wonky characterization of Secret Wars to see how this could easily have gone tits up. Fortunately for the comics reading public Dennis Hopeless’ seemingly genuine affection for what could be charitably described as “ a mixed bag “ of characters saves us from a fate worse than Shooter. It’s not that there is a lack of action – there’s loads – but what people will remember will be the interactions between the slews of D grade super folk. Couple that with Kev Walkers gorgeous pointy artwork and what you’re left with is what as close to a Joss Wheadon comic as we can get in 2013.
OH POINTY BIRD. OH POINTY POINT…
As a single issue the lack of definite conclusion leaves a bit of a nasty taste in the mouth, but as the final chapter of a multi part saga, it leaves you with much to think about . Lawless states in his epilogue that Avengers Arena was not the series that he wanted to write at all: his actual treatment was a continuation of Runaways. Hopefully in light of the quality of this series he will get the opportunity to continue both the story of those teenage vagabonds and this tale of dystopian teen slaughter. Maybe we’ll even get some answers. The ending seems to hint at something bigger to follow. Let us hope then, that it isn’t just another New Warriors re-launch.
4 out of 5 nerds