majingojira's Avengers Arena #16 - Boss Level Part 3 of 5 review

But what's my motivation? (spoiler review)

After the high of last issue, we're immediately knocked back into mediocrity by that wonderfully bland villain Arcade. It's funny how a guy who made a giant pinball machine of death has really become a low rent Mojo under Hopeless pen, especially since Arcade's has literally become Dennis Hopeless' mouthpiece in this story. The reasoning he gives as to why now everyone is cracking is almost verbatim Hopeless' reasoning, making it really hard to divorce the two. And, like Arena has been want to do, because Arcade said something is true, it instantly is as the kids turn on each other in various groups for reasons that, while explainable by what has happened in Arena (Anachronism's grief over Nara, Nico's fear she will be killed again for the same mistake, etc), it all hinges on one tiny problem: since the first issue there really hasn't been a motivating factor in the game's setup. Nothing to force the kids to fight other than veiled threats by Arcade. Any illusion people had of this being a character centric piece or character driven work are utterly shattered by this proclimation of Arcade coming to fruition. Personally, it has not been character driven since about issue 8, when the timescale really started throwing things for a loop, but not it's even harder to justify. Things are happening literally and only because Arcade says so.

For if it's not Arcade's say so, then with no obvious countdown clock to raise the tension further, they're all turning on each other now seems to stem from only Nara's death. Given how much everyone cared for her (IE: only one did in the whole surviving group), that's pretty weak and places undo importance on a character who barely got any attention until moments before she died. The flaccid dominoes fall as Anachronism sparks the others to act and in the end we're left with some rather bland fight scenes and a callback to the first issue's fight scene with Hazmat and X-23.

To compound the blandness of the fight scenes, we're reminded that Dennis Hopeless has no idea how to use the Staff of One or even write a spellcaster as he has Nico deliver a flying tackle to Bloodstone to start their little brawl. This is a girl who could say "Your head Explode" and it would, but he has her tackle her enemy like she's Cannonball?

Also, Reptil and Anachronism start fighting for no given reason. He may be trying to stop him from killing Bloodstone, but given how it's blocked and how long it's going to go on, it's really straining suspension of disbelief.

Inside Arcade's dungeon, we get some nice banter/planning from Tim, Katy and 'Becca (Death Locket), but it's only average at best. The use of internet slang to try and be hip with the kids always rubs me the wrong way, so I'm not particularly fond of the scene even as Arcade reveals he has some decent internet security as Katy/Tim tries to hack the place, but this gets thrown out when Chris Powell returns (alive) and smacks Arcade in the head with a metal bar, ending the issue.

This undermines everything that the series has been doing in one fell swoop. All the build up and hype for Arcade and he doesn't bother to check on whether the kids are dead or not when he tucks them away (putting two of them in 'tanks' that apparently kept one alive and healed him over several days without ill effects), he doesn't have powers inside his base of operations, even though every time he's been defeated it's been because people corner him in the base and take him down there.

And let's neglect the Chritos Gage penned issue where he has access to Holograms and "Crush you with a thought" power while inside the very same base. Different writer or no, it's the same series continuity. After screwing up the prior series continuity on every level, you'd expect him to keep his own series' work in check.

Sure, Arcade could be lying, but the purpose of which would only be to give Arcade even more ego stroking, which is something reasonable people are a might sick of. It makes it worse when the aforementioned Author Avatar aspects are hit.

Overall, for the series, it's a 4/10. With Katy Bashir back and Arcade getting a lot of screen time, the two worst aspects of this series slam together to make an overall bland mess of a book. Throw in Milone's pencils (which the colorists just do not know how to do justice with their extremely drab and "late '00 computer game" pallet) and we have an ugly, bland and stupid chapter in Marvel's vilest book since Ultimatum.

Posted by TheAcidSkull

*fist bump*

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