pspin's Avengers Arena #8 - Game On Part 1 of 5 review

Avengers Arena #8 Review

Avengers Arena #8 Review

Overview:

The members of the Arena come together in the fallout of issue six.

The Good:

I will admit that when I saw the opening page with X-23, I was a little worried her portrayal has not exactly been the best in this series; but I was pleasantly surprised here when she did not only the right thing, but was written well. Nico, Chris, and Juston (who are the other non-original characters here) are also written well which is a relief as they have also been inconsistent. The story deals mostly with the fallout of Kid Briton’s death and how it brings almost everyone to the same spot. There is also a little twist at the end that gives a little kick to the issue as well. It is kind of like two steps forward, one step back but in a good way if that makes sense.

Dennis Hopeless writes the issue and delivers one of the best issues yet. There is a good balance of characterization and action here spread across the entire cast. It shows that, despite popular belief, he can write existing characters pretty well.

Kev Walker once again delivers some great art.

Jean-Francois Beaulieu colors the issue and it is pretty different from Frank Martin Jr.’s but it is also really good.

The Bad:

***SPOILER ALERT***

SERIOUSLY, THESE ONES ARE KIND OF BIG…

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

The biggest problem with the issue is that Hopeless tries to get edgy with Bloodstone and Apex but it doesn’t work. Bloodstone, as it turns out, is apparently gay for Anachronism and it really makes no impact on the story in the slightest. I really don’t understand what Hopeless was trying to do here it is a not really even out of nowhere because there has been the least amount of character development with Bloodstone as it is so there is no real value to the revelation. Due to this the action comes off as an attention grabber instead of progressing the story.

Apex is a man. This was totally out of left field. One minute she is talking to Death Locket as they run from the site of Kid Briton’s death, collapses and gets up as a guy named Tim. I don’t understand at all and this was weird and jarring. Seriously this was a complete shift from manipulative, mean yet clearly female Apex into whiny, weird, and now a guy Apex.

***END SPOILERS***

Verdict:

Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker deliver a solid issue of a roller coaster series. Aside from two pointless “edgy twists” (if you can call them that) this was a solid issue with solid characterization for existing characters. Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s colors are a nice change of pace and compliment the art well.

3 out of 5

23 Comments
Posted by akbogert

I am trying to reconcile the score you gave with "Dennis Hopeless writes the issue and delivers one of the best issues yet," haha.

It's good to hear that Laura and others were well-handled in this issue (that seems to be the consensus around the 'net -- so much so that I actually saw some Laura-hater complain she wasn't "feral enough," and no, I'm not making that up). Others seem to have been more impressed by the Apex twist; obviously given my distance from the series I don't have a personal opinion, though it definitely raised my brow because, like you said, Apex was a compelling female character.

Posted by pspin

@akbogert: Well he will always lose when it comes to Laura fans because this is the internet and if you aren't complaining about something, you are using it wrong. As for the score, it would have been higher but the Bloodstone and Apex things just felt so pointless it bothered me. I don't care if things like that happen in the context of the story but when it is two major things like that right out of the blue, it strikes me more like attention grabbing to get more readers than actually advancing the plot in any significant way.

Edited by akbogert

@pspin: Right. I guess I just find it interesting that those things detracted enough from your experience to affect the rating, but not to affect your overall impression that this was one of the best issues.

Edited by pspin

@akbogert: This was honestly closer to a 3.5 than a 3 but the new site doesn't give half stars so it got a 3. The part that I really liked was that Hopeless finally seems to have a handle on the existing characters and even though there was things I didn't like, overall I think that this is probably the second or third best issue so far. It wasn't that I didn't like them so much as I just thought they were pointless.

Posted by akbogert

Fair enough.

Haha.

I guess just when my mind sees three stars given to "one of the best yet" I assume most issues get twos or ones -- it doesn't give me much hope for the series in general.

Which of course, it's no surprise, I'd be happy if people felt that the book was an average or below-average book, but that's not the vibe I've gotten from you in the past :P

Edited by pspin

@akbogert: I usually give it around a three but without half stars it is harder. when I sat best yet, it is relative. This book has its moments and has just enough in it to keep me coming back but it is pretty average to be honest. It is pretty high up on the "Drop if I Need Cash" list though.

Edited by akbogert

@pspin: Heh. Oh, but then there'd be no one on CV reviewing it.

No, like I said, it's in my best interest that people not care about the book. I just tend to assume the folks who don't hate it are in love with it, which is obviously a bit unfair.

Posted by pspin

@akbogert: The most troubling part about the issue is that it is only part 1 of 5 (or maybe that I am just noticing now). With the ending it had, Juston attacking Death Locket on his heavily modified sentinel, this is part 1 of 2 or maybe 3 if they stretch it. This is worrying...

Posted by akbogert

@pspin: What do you mean by "worrying?"

Posted by pspin

@akbogert: I mean it could suck but that really only applies to me since I actually don't mind the series. as part 1 of 5, I could easily see this becoming long and drawn out unless the end of the series is right around the corner and Marvel just won't say anyhting.

Posted by akbogert

@pspin: So you're saying that the way this issue ended, you have a hard time buying that they can draw out the suspense/inevitable over four issues without really losing pace?

Posted by pspin

@akbogert: Yes unless they start killing people left and right, there is no way this particular story arc can last 5 issues and still be good (relatively) based off of the ending of this issue because it is moving too fast for 4 more issues. If that happens, the end could be near since this book doesn't have the biggest fan base.

Edited by akbogert

@pspin: Haha, you say "unless they start killing people left and right, there is no way" this'll be good, but I'd argue that if they do start killing people left and right, that would also make it not good.

Of course, that's not the first time I've noted the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" nature of this book. But I find it striking how frequently it seems applicable.

Posted by pspin

@akbogert: As long as they don't kill Laura, Nico, Chase, or the Academy kids, I really don't care but that is half of the cast in a series about them killing each other....

That phrase is the entire basis of this series.

Posted by akbogert

@pspin: Welcome to the inevitability that is my reason for loathing this book.

Edited by ChanceEncounter

RE: Apex. In one of the AR's in the issue Hopeless referred to them as the Apex Twins, so this is clearly an ability they're going to explore.

As for Bloodstone, I appreciate the attempt at some reality. The whole mostly closeted kid being attracted to his straight friend is something that's legit for most gay teens. It's not an attempt to be edgy, it's an attempt to show the readers something about the character that is more than just "holy crap, I don't want to die but I also don't want to kill my friends." It was a nice bit of character development, and one that would seem to indicate that Bloodstone is going to be around for a while so that it can be explored a little bit.

I take it you're not a big fan of the Young Avengers series.

Posted by pspin

@chanceencounter: I have never read Young Avengers. I guess it could be character development but since it is literally the only notable characteristics of both characters, it comes across as a way to increase lagging readership.

Edited by ChanceEncounter

The seeds for the Bloodstone reveal were planted in #5. I remember while reading that issue thinking that Bloodstone seemed to be trying to hide that he was attracted to Anachronism.

Posted by The Mighty Monarch

@akbogert said:

@pspin: Heh. Oh, but then there'd be no one on CV reviewing it.

Except, you know, me.

Posted by akbogert

@the_mighty_monarch: Your review isn't attached to the issue, so if you're reviewing the book, I have no way of knowing that o_O

Posted by The Mighty Monarch

@akbogert: Well I haven't reviewed THIS issue YET, but I have reviewed all the others thus far.

Posted by akbogert

@the_mighty_monarch: Ah. Looking back, I see why I didn't know that: your reviews are usually a few days after the issue's out, by which point I've usually stopped looking for AA info, haha. Sorry about that >_>

Of course, it matters little at this point, because as I recently explained, I'm no longer going to be checking in on the progress of this book. But thanks to both of you for putting in the effort, for sure.

Edited by travyoso

@chanceencounter: I agree I thought they have been hinting pretty blatantly that Bloodstone was gay. Actually I thought they were going to reveal them(Cullen and Anachronism) to be a couple before the whole slutty Nara twist. So I disn't think this was too surprising nor a grab for readers because I think its been planned for a while.

The Apex thing was VERY weird though, did not see that coming. She has a lot going on. IS she a telepath? technopath? twins? transgender? shape-shifter? Why did she get so blood hungry in issue 6? Who the hell knows? At least it looks like the next issue is Apex focused so we'll get answers soon

Also curious what Cullen's "other dark secret" is? They kind of slipped that in there

Overall great read for me

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