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!!!”


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.


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.


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: ★★★★☆

Reader Rating



About Author

Zach is a recent college graduate who’s love for consuming media is surpassed only by his love for creating it. He has a firm belief that if we could all just play with LEGOs for 30 minutes a day the world would be a better place. If those two statements don’t tell you everything you need to know about Zach, follow him on Twitter at @zwoolf.


    • you should be wondering how arcade killed mettle more than anything. this is the problem. he is pure metal. which means he does not have blood as we know it, has no fleshy pieces at all, and it makes it that it would take an explosive far more powerful than needed to kill a mere human to kill him, and even stronger than that to blow him into bits, which would be bits of solid metal and not flesh. hell, it looked far more like he blasted mettle, which is more unlikely because the metal he is made of is especially resistant to energy.

      • Of course, if you read the issue carefully, the characters are given little health bars, like a video game. What if Arcade didn’t “kill” Mettle so much as disconnect him from a virtual reality/video game that Arcade created, something which WOULD fit with both his powers and his previous modus operandi?

        There seems to be a lot more going on than meets the eye in this story…

        • OK, now THIS I can see, and it would explain Arcade’s insane power increase. In retrospect, I’m not sure how I DIDN’T see this now that you’ve pointed it out.

          Still tho, meh…just another Marvel shock-value cheap ripoff gimmick story. Pass.

  1. your review is flawed. if, if, this was a different character, different characters, i would say that it was good. however, it is these characters…
    let me explain. this is not arcade. arcade is a d list villain who is a clever mastermind and inventer of death traps. he is thus a clever coward, who entraps his victims in death trap areas. he is not only unlikely to go face to face with hsi vcitims like that, he is in fact INCAPABLE of doing so, lacking both courage and power to face his victims. thus this man utterly, entirely failed to set up a scenario that is for arcade. it is even worse because he did appear before them. i thought it was going to be a waste of characters, but no, it is an insult to the design of arcade to begin with.

    oh, and also, there is no way he could kill Mettle. even if he implanted and explosive inside of him, his insides are as durable as his outsides. he is pure iridium, and is resistant to not only physical damage but energy and radiation. even more so, the fucker Does Not Have Blood or Soft Tissue. if you managed to somehow blow him up, he would be in metal bits, not blood and tissue.

    this author totally failed to acknowledged both the true nature of the villain he is writing, making him look like he ATE the infinity gauntlet or something, and the abilities of the victims of death in the comic.
    basically it is like this. killing mettle is like killing the thing in that manner. both are solid material, even the parts of them that should be soft and squishy and solid. the very fact he did not acknolwedge this when he decided to do a shock kill made me lose what little faith i had, and turned what i was expecting to be apathy to the series within me into total indignation.

    • Given the people he’s chosen as enemies or taken on as targets — Wolverine, Spider-Man, the X-Men, etc. — I hardly find the description of him as ‘coward’ as accurate.

      Cowards would choose targets other than the powerhouses of the Marvel Universe.

  2. Yes, to be “that guy” – It is clearly a pastiche of Battle Royale, not Hunger Games. Just look at the visuals. The logo, the class photo. It’s pretty obvious.

  3. Eh. Still sounds like an excuse to “clean house” with cult-following characters that they don’t know how to use properly. Everything about this book screams mean-spirited. I thought Marvel moved past this stuff when Jemas left. Maybe not having any prior familiarity with or fondness for any of the characters involved is what Marvel is hoping for the audience to enjoy this.

    In short, as a fan of Runaways/Avengers Academy/Sentinel for reasons other than the characters’ “kewlness” levels, I am still very disappointed. If it all turns out to be a big illusion, it’ll be a cheap cop-out that’s a pleasant surprise. But for now, it’s just (at least in my books) pretty tasteless.

  4. I’m not a marvel person by any means, but I picked up this book and rather liked it.

    Let me just say – I am a Battle Royale guy.

    I like the basic premise and setup. It makes thematic sense to use a lot of the Avengers Academy kids who were a little “close to the edge” on the good/evil scale.

    The writer seemed to telegraph the “Virtual World” idea in this issue. I’m hoping there’s a further twist than that because even that idea is a little played out in current anime releases.

    This issue definitely piqued my interest and I’m on board for the opening arc.

  5. Okay, just saying that the writing might be great, could even be the best writing in the industry for all I know, but he’s taken characters people love and cherish and turned them into expendable creations there for no other reason than cheap ratings. This is what I find upsetting about the book. Had he taken new characters to do this, I might even pick it up, but why do I really wanna read about my favorite characters getting killed off for no real reason? This serves nothing, their deaths doesn’t save lives, doesn’t allow them to go out as the heroes they are. No, they get to kill each other off and even if they survive, they are mentally damaged and tramatized. Yeah, this is really a series I wanna read about.

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