the_mighty_monarch's Avengers Arena #13 - The Devil's Greatest Trick review

The Hidden Conspiracy

I find it really ironic that the very issue that gives us SO many answers to why things are the way the are, especially solving the BIGGEST problem of them all, "Why hasn't nobody noticed they're missing?" is in an issue NOT written by series creator Dennis Hopeless.

The issue has a fairly smooth narrative, but at a certain point you realize what it really is, because of the way it has to go through every motion and jump through every hoop. It's a full issue long explanation of why nobody has noticed these kids are missing. The main story starts out strong, with an understandably emotionally distraught Molly screaming at a confused Hank Pym to find her 'missing' friends. This is when we discover the first layer of deception Arcade has planted. So basically the rest of the issue is Pym's search for clues to a potential huge conspiracy of 'maybe missing' kids. But the way we see each step of the way kind of sheds too much light into the production point of this issue. It's meant to show us how each absence is explained. I gotta give Arcade some credit, he REALLY thought it out well to cover his tracks. Hardly more than two people have their secret abduction covered in the same way. If everyone had the same cover story, it'd be too suspicious, but Pym's kept with reasonable doubt due to the extremely limited sense of connection between the various potential oddities. Not only that, but you see more brilliance in the choices made for the participants. Many, if not all of the people Arcade took have certain emotional problems in their history or recent events that make their partial disappearances reasonable. It's honestly sheer genius.

All in all, this was a story we REALLY needed, and probably needed slightly sooner. It definitely would've silenced a few naysayers, and most of them have already jumped ship by this point. But it shouldn't have been immediate. Molly's right, of course, and nobody believing her makes her story absolutely heart breaking. But once she's out of the picture, the issue loses a bit of 'soul.' There's not a ton of emotion involved in the investigation, and that's part of what makes it easier to see the wires holding the idea of this issue together.

In Conclusion: 4/5

You can see the stitched holding the purpose together, but the fact remains that the purpose was extremely essential, and it wasn't laid out in a boring fashion. Molly's emotional breakdown at the start really sells it, even if the waves of her cries don't follow you to the end of the issue.

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