Saturday, February 2, 2013

365 Comics...33: Avengers Arena #1 (2012)

As I teased on Sunday (365 #27) I was working on a rather massive review (but not a review of The Massive) of the "Most Dangerous Game"/"Battle Royale" retreads now on the market: Avengers Arena from Marvel , New Guardians Annual/Threshold from DC, and Deathmatch from Boom Studios.  Well, it's now posted at, all 20 paragraphs (5 pages!) of it.

It's excessive, I admit but to be honest I love the genre, even bad versions of it.  So I loved exploring these books and writing about them.  In brief (and pretty much saying everything I said in my review:)  Avengers Arena does a pretty good job of mimicking Battle Royale/The Hunger Games, while Threshold could be a lot better, but Giffen has some ideas he's enjoying playing with.  Neither, however is remotely as awesome, compelling, engaging or as satisfying as Deathmatch.  You should be reading it.

Even still, I'm staying with Threshold and Avengers Arena.  I've even gone back and picked up the first two Arena issues.  Now having read the first issue, I can see why my colleague Jeb had reacted so negatively to the book.  Despite writer Dennis Hopeless' insistence that the book's number one focus is character development this first issue puts it quite squarely around the game of death.  I see now the threads of how character development can erupt from the proceedings (who has a killer inside them for instance?) but in issue 1 and issue 3 that I've read, so far, I don't see the characters as the focus as much as the game.

The set-up is crucial, and as it's explained in this first issue it's almost too over-the-top to buy into.  I was happier with the book when I has only speculation about how it all happened.

Also, besides the fact that it capitalizes upon the highly marketable "Avengers" trademark, I'm not certain why this book is called "Avengers Arena" and not "Murder World" or "Arcade's Arena".  "Avengers Arena" actually doesn't make much sense when you look at who's involved.  Ah well.

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