REVIEW: Avengers Arena #1

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Another new #1 has arrived from the House of Ideas, but did Marvel forget their nickname when coming up with this “idea”? Major Spoilers is here to fill you in with a review of Avengers Arena #1! 


AvengersArena1-COVERIMAGEAvengers Arena #1
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Kev Walker
Colorist: Frank Martin
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Bill Rosemann
Publisher: Marvel
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Avengers Arena: Nothing. Well the characters have been established inside the Marvel Universe so that happened, but that doesn’t matter that much here. Say it with me, “Marvel NOW!!!”

ADDRESSING THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

Precisely 5.67 seconds after Marvel announced the concept of Avengers Arena 73% of the comic reading community collectively said, “What. A. Rip. Off.” The parallels between the book and current movie/novel sensation Hunger Games (or if you are that guy, Battle Royale) are fairly obvious, and you know what? Marvel is completely okay with this. In fact the evil-genius who is running this game acknowledges that he thought up the idea from reading “a couple kids’ books” while behind bars.  Smart move from Hopeless addressing this because it says, “Ya, I know this might not be the most original idea, but let me show you what I can do with it.”

With a first issue that is set to contain 16 characters of not wide known stature a writer is going to have to work hard to get new readers, aka me, to remember everyone. If this was the 80’s Hopeless simply would have had forced first and last names into dialogue, but this is a new century and he has a better method. By using an arcade style name and health bar he is able to identify characters easily while staying inside the game idea encompassed in the story. Not only does this issue excel in introducing the “heroes” but the big bad is presented in such a manner that readers old and new will be taken back by what he is able to accomplish.

Don’t think that Avengers Arena #1 is all set up though; these pages have plenty of fighty-fighty to fill that need in your life as well. The fighting is used incredibly well here as it sets up the need for the young heroes to turn on one another as they strive to be the last breathing. As for the big hook at the end, it left me mouth-agape and silent as I tried to process what just happened.

IT’S CINAMATIC

Kev Walker knows how to put together a dynamic conversation scene. In some comic issues it is clear the artist decided to focus more on the action on panel than the dialogue happening and vice versa with others, but Walker is able to balance the two by choosing a frame composition that compliments that action on the page. Walker is also able to give the reader a sense of just how powerful Arcade is by having his actions escape panels and spill into others. The only bone I have to pick over the art was the choice to use a digital blur to show motion during an opening page. This effect wasn’t used anywhere else in the book so it seems out of place and also muddies up Walker’s topnotch line work. I’m looking forward to more of Walker’s work in upcoming issues.

BOTTOM LINE: I WAS WRONG

I’ll admit that when Avengers Arena was announced I moaned a little bit and all the way up to the reading of this first issue was skeptical about this series. Well count me as converted because I’m here to stay. The paring of Hopeless and Walker has already delivered an issue that is able to connect emotionally and physically while covering all the needed bases for a first issue. Marvel NOW continues to pump out engaging books and you can now put Avengers Arena on that list. Go pick up Avengers Arena #1 even if you have your doubts, it won’t disappoint.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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