Posted by pspin (891 posts) - - Show Bio

Some people, probably most, are very angry and vocal about their dislike for the series Avengers Arena for either killing their favorite character or some shaky characterization. While the series is not the best nor is it my favorite from a purely objective standpoint it really isn’t that bad, especially if it is the first series you have read involving these characters.

But of course it isn’t the first time you have seen these characters. I believe that most of the series buzz came from seeing these more fan-favorite characters in a life and death struggle.

There are a few reasons why the book isn’t a favorite of many, for me, and others I’m sure, it is more a case of having seen things like this before. That doesn’t make the series bad, but it stops it from being great until it breaks the mold. Other reasons include the killing of favorite characters, the lack of overall point, but the biggest is the inconsistent characterization of people like X-23, the Avengers Academy students and Nico and Chase from the Runaways.

I have read all of the Runaways, all of Marjorie Liu’s excellent X-23 series, and the second half of the recent Avengers Academy series and frankly yes there are some characterization inconsistencies from those series to this one and while some of it can be blamed on Avengers Arena being only 4 issues in, some of it can’t be. There are several examples of this including Mettle dying in an explosion of blood, X-23 being very quick to violence, and Nico’s Staff of One not working correctly.

While I am not the most familiar with Mettle, I believe that due to his physical mutation he has no ski (obviously) and that he didn’t have any blood either. I thought that while he was clearly alive and all, he was biologically very different from regular people and super powered people; but I could be wrong. X-23 made huge leaps and bounds in character in her recent series and I loved that series so seeing her be so prone to violence here makes me a little angry but it is understandable because she could easily enter “survival mode.” Is this the best interpretation of her, no, but it is not out of the realm of possibility nor does it set her character back. Another characterization inconsistency I have seen is Hazmat’s lack of reaction to Mettle’s death. Assuming that issue 4 takes place one or two days after issue three that would place it around day nine or ten. While she could be blocking it out, in Avengers Academy it was very clear that the two were deeply in love and other than the reaction at the beginning, she hasn’t done much. The last major inconsistency I have seen so far is the Staff of One not working correctly. In the Runaways it is described as one of the most powerful magical objects in existence and something that the Sorcerer Supreme would want because it can make gods bow. (Or something like that, it has been a while) While it has never been portrayed super-consistently due to being so powerful, having Arcade able to stop it from letting her and the others escape or not effect himself is a major stretch.

Reading issue four and the Staff’s apparent malfunctioning gave me this idea: none of what is happening is real. Well, it is real from their perspective, but it is not really real because they are hooked up to some computer or something. This way, there would be some inconsistencies because the computer couldn’t perfectly factor in everything and could impact the personalities of the people on the island to force them to do things that they would not normally do. If anyone has seen the Syfy channel show Eureka something similar happened in season 4 and it makes some serious sense here. Since it is a program Mettle’s death would involve blood either from the programmer’s lack of knowledge of his biology or the kid’s assumption that an exploding body would have blood in it. It also explains why the Staff of One wouldn’t be as powerful as it should and how Arcade had the abilities that he did in issue 1 that were very not Arcade-like. It also means that the characters are not truly dying, which would be awesome.

There are some flaws to this theory, mostly who would do this and why, but I think that it covers the basics enough to be plausible at this point in time. (Issue 4)

This theory is not perfect, I am aware, but I can’t think of another good reason that some of these inconsistencies exist because Dennis Hopeless is a pretty good writer. Seeing some of these characters die is kind of a mixed bag for me. On one hand it makes me mad to see characters I like die; but on the other hand, I know that sooner or later the popular ones (X-23, Nico, Chase, Hazmat, Reptil and arguably Mettle) will be back sooner or later because they are so popular and money can be made off of them but I digress.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Don’t care? Have any theories of your own? All I ask is that the hate and trolling for the series be kept to a minimum.

#1 Posted by Jorgevy (5114 posts) - - Show Bio

I think pretty much everyone has already come to the conclusion that either this is not really happening or it is a a BS move by Marvel

Im kinda betting on fake reality, but with present day Marvel writing, it could be a BS move to increase sales etc... and kill off some characters just to bring them back anyway

#2 Edited by akbogert (3194 posts) - - Show Bio

First of all, thank you for writing this reasonably and openly. My contempt for this series is so strong that my passion occasionally gets the best of me, so I sincerely hope I maintain the nice tone you've begun with here :P

To address what I said earlier, I've seen scans from Issue 4 where one panel had 3 claws. It seems to have been a fluke, with multiple people confirming it but plenty of other people having gotten a version of the book where it was removed. That's not really a big deal, but just a few sprinkles on top of the much more important problem that Laura's character is apparently undergoing major assassination here. She doesn't have "survival mode." Many times over the course of her life she has manifested a major character flaw, which is self-loathing. She does not understand herself or other people, and she does not value her own life. As a character who has many times before both laid down her life to protect others and made it clear that she refuses to be forced to kill or harm other people against her will, there is absolutely no way she should be, as one other reviewer on the internet called this portrayal, "feral." The only feasible "on" switch for her violence would be Trigger Scent, and while I'd still be furious at the idea that Arcade also managed to get that, it would at least explain her being violent. But there's been none of that as of yet.

Before moving along, I think you hit the nail on the head with your opening paragraph. With few exceptions, the people who are enjoying this book are people for whom "it is the first series you have read involving these characters." Stripped of the responsibility of respecting the characters or their fans, you can say Hopeless is doing a good job. But I refuse to accept that a writer should be given such liberty. Even in simulation, if the thought is that the kids are basically playing a really advanced video game, they should still think they are real, and should still be acting real. So while it explains things like the technology problems (i.e. Nico's staff) it doesn't get Hopeless off the hook for Chase being an unfunny douche or Hazmat being seemingly indifferent to Mettle's death (or based on what I've heard, Hazmat being a douche).

So unless we're watching a complete simulation with lots of programming errors (i.e. it's not the characters who are being misled, but the readers), then there's still quite a bit this series has to answer for before we even get to the point of this being an entirely worthless reason for killing characters off that plenty of people, including Marvel writers, want to see survive. The unfortunate thing is that this could have been a fantastic way for Marvel to do what someone suggested to me earlier: get more attention on them in an effort to launch continuing books with them after the fact. But because of the way they're going about it, they're pushing away many of the folks who would otherwise be dying to support a book with these kids in it, and their numbers are just going to show a lack of interest. Which is odd, really, as it means they're currently depending on people who never cared about these characters in order to keep the book alive. (And again, that's a generalization; you made clear that you've read background stuff, but many pro-Arena blogs and reviews I've read indicate the opposite).

Which brings me to the point about resurrection. X-23, yeah, I think it's true that if she dies here she will be brought back. As a fan of her character, I absolutely can't stand that, because not only does it kill her character development, but it adds a completely unnecessary darkness to her future past. I love this Laura, and I don't want an alternate version, or a new version, or an amnesiac version, or whatever. But the other characters are simply not popular enough. Their lack of mainstream popularity got them put in this book to begin with (Hopeless has mentioned certain other characters he wanted he wasn't allowed to have, so we know there was a bar for admittance into Murder World), and the boycotts on this book will ensure that it's never popular enough to give Marvel an excuse to try again with them in another book (even though the explanation for the book's unpopularity is clearly not the characters' unpopularity). Permanent teen character deaths, particularly in large events, are sadly a dime a dozen these days. So unless these kids are saved by the end of Arena's run, I really don't think they will be coming back.

(I hope that wasn't too "hateful;" I assure you I'm at least trying here ^_^)

#3 Posted by Teerack (5329 posts) - - Show Bio

It's going to be like the Noah arch in Yu-Gi-Oh.

Online
#4 Posted by Brazen_Intellect (1144 posts) - - Show Bio

If your theory is correct then as flawed as the premise is, it loses what little impact and meaning it had going for it.

#5 Posted by The Stegman (23036 posts) - - Show Bio

As soon as I heard about the premise that was my first theory, then when I read issue one, and Arcade had "god like powers" I was pretty much certain that this is virtual reality.

@Brazen_Intellect said:

If your theory is correct then as flawed as the premise is, it loses what little impact and meaning it had going for it.

Also this, the title is in a lose/lose situation. Either it is real, in which case, the fans will be pissed that their beloved characters are dead, or it isn't and the fans will be pissed because the whole thing was basically just a cop out and waste of time

#6 Posted by akbogert (3194 posts) - - Show Bio

@The Stegman said:

As soon as I heard about the premise that was my first theory, then when I read issue one, and Arcade had "god like powers" I was pretty much certain that this is virtual reality.

@Brazen_Intellect said:

If your theory is correct then as flawed as the premise is, it loses what little impact and meaning it had going for it.

Also this, the title is in a lose/lose situation. Either it is real, in which case, the fans will be pissed that their beloved characters are dead, or it isn't and the fans will be pissed because the whole thing was basically just a cop out and waste of time

Indeed. I think a retcon or alternate universe are the only even possibly good outcomes here, because the former allows for Marvel to say "well, it was supposed to be real" and the latter doesn't kill the characters and explains all the glaring inconsistencies. Doesn't explain why these characters aren't in any other books at the moment, but there are plenty of characters who aren't in books for the moment so that's not really an issue.

#7 Posted by pspin (891 posts) - - Show Bio

@akbogert: That is a reasonable and not completely hate filled response. I think that one of the main problems is that the last X-23 series was so good that anything she is in after it looks bad; even in Avengers Academy she wasn't the same and it kind of sucked. I guess that "survival mode" is a bad term but I couldn't think of anything better. Laura knows what she can do in situations like these and so she is trying to help her friends the best way she can and it is with violence. Is it the best depiction of her? No, but it gets the job done. Also without an issue centered around her, it is all speculation.

@The Stegman: I totally agree with the lose/lose situation. The only thing that is keeping me buying the book is my love of X-23 and a slight bit of curiosity of it will play out but if I need the cash for another title, this is the first book to get the ax

@Brazen_Intellect: Which is unfortunate because the general idea behind the series isn't a bad one.

#8 Posted by akbogert (3194 posts) - - Show Bio

@pspin: I haven't yet read Academy, though I do doubt it would ever live up to Kyle/Yost's run (which is the reason I was similarly disappointed with Liu's run, but that's neither here nor there). Still, she's the most level-headed person in that book, if she's being written properly. "Not likely to flip out" doesn't even cover it. It's almost impossible for her to just flip out because she doesn't act based on emotion, but on logic. If she's behaving in a way that could even mistakenly be called feral or "survival mode," then she's being written wrong, plain and simple ^_^

@pspin said:

The only thing that is keeping me buying the book is my love of X-23...

Food for thought, particularly the paragraph with the bolding in it.

#9 Posted by MatKrenz (1233 posts) - - Show Bio

You know the moment Nico said her staff couldn't get her out the possibility of this being one huge simulation is plausible. I mean the Staff of One is said to put fear in the Dread Dormmamu, if that can't get her off some rinky dink island that Arcade owns that would be pretty sad.

#10 Edited by Timandm (3374 posts) - - Show Bio
@pspin: While I am not the most familiar with Mettle, I believe that due to his physical mutation he has no ski (obviously)
 
What?  He had no "Ski" ?!?!  Say it isn't so!!!  LOL!  Just playing.  I know that was a typo.  It's true, he doesn't have skin... 
 
About the series, I wasn't sure I'd like it much at first... But, I like the way the writers are using it to introduce the characters and help the readers get to know them a little better... Even if they're changing some of them a little...
@MatKrenz said:

You know the moment Nico said her staff couldn't get her out the possibility of this being one huge simulation is plausible. I mean the Staff of One is said to put fear in the Dread Dormmamu, if that can't get her off some rinky dink island that Arcade owns that would be pretty sad.

I haven't read it in a while, but wasn't there a situation once, where Nico couldn't use the staff of one to escape a drug dealer?  it wasn't the drug dealer himself, but someone working for him that had mystical abilities... 
In this case, I just assumed that Arcade would have built into his system a way to restrain each individual he meant to trap.  He knew beforehand, who he would be putting into the game, and so he built the system specifically for them...  For example, if he wanted to trap Kitty Pryde, he'd have to create a field of force which she couldn't phase through.. If he wanted to trap Venom in his system, he'd likely have some sort of wall of sonic vibrations surrounding the system...
 
Other than that, it's kind of hard to accept that the Staff of One couldn't get her out...
 
@pspin said:

@akbogert: That is a reasonable and not completely hate filled response. I think that one of the main problems is that the last X-23 series was so good that anything she is in after it looks bad; even in Avengers Academy she wasn't the same and it kind of sucked. I guess that "survival mode" is a bad term but I couldn't think of anything better. Laura knows what she can do in situations like these and so she is trying to help her friends the best way she can and it is with violence. Is it the best depiction of her? No, but it gets the job done. Also without an issue centered around her, it is all speculation.



She's being written right...  She's acting logically.  She's focused on survival.  Now, I do think there's a chance she could go into kill mode.  Remember, there is still that "scent" that triggers her 'berserker rage.'  I wouldn't put it past Arcade to slip that into the game.  In fact, it sounds like something he would definitely do...
#11 Posted by MatKrenz (1233 posts) - - Show Bio

@Timandm: Well that would mean that Arcade would essentially have an "Anti-Magic Field Generator". meaning he's in league with Dr.Isano !!!!

#12 Posted by akbogert (3194 posts) - - Show Bio

@Timandm: I think that's the point, though. Sure, Arcade would want to be able to prevent the Staff's use, but canonically speaking he should not have been able to create such a situation. If it were doable there would be no reason for gods to fear.

#13 Posted by Timandm (3374 posts) - - Show Bio
@MatKrenz: Well.. it IS comic book physics...  Perhaps he has an evil sorcerer working for him???  
 
Or... do you think he could have had a telepath make her believe she can't use the staff to teleport out of there?   Kind of like an elephant that's chained to a stake driven into the ground.  Many grown elephants are kept in place with an iron cuff around one "ankle" that is attached tthrough a chain to a pole that is driven into the ground... This keeps the elephant from wondering off... But, in truth, the elephant could very easily just walk away.  The stake would come out of the ground without too much effort on the elephants part.  The reason that it works is this; when the elephant was young (and small) it actually was not strong enough to break free.  So, it grew up "just knowing" that it couldn't break free.  So, as an adult, it is the elephants misbelief that keeps it chained down.
 
That was a bit long winded, but what do you think?  Could he have made her simply 'believe' she can't port out of there?
#14 Posted by Timandm (3374 posts) - - Show Bio
@akbogert said:

@Timandm: I think that's the point, though. Sure, Arcade would want to be able to prevent the Staff's use, but canonically speaking he should not have been able to create such a situation. If it were doable there would be no reason for gods to fear.

True, but the pen of Loeb and the cape of Quesada trump canon and common sense every time... Mores the pity...
#15 Posted by MatKrenz (1233 posts) - - Show Bio

@Timandm: I don't know bout that psychology stuff. I mean magic is a very tricky thing to write around and write with and it usually surpasses all human reasoning and stuff. Honestly this is a wait and see situation.

#16 Posted by akbogert (3194 posts) - - Show Bio

@MatKrenz said:

@Timandm: I don't know bout that psychology stuff. I mean magic is a very tricky thing to write around and write with and it usually surpasses all human reasoning and stuff. Honestly this is a wait and see situation.

Indeed. I just really hope that if there's no grand explanation for questions like mine, and people are just being asked to accept it, that the people who have been defending Hopeless will stop doing so, because then in addition to cruelly disregarding existing fans he will have been just plain writing the characters and situations badly. Premise and dialogue, after all, aren't the only determining factors for quality writing within a larger continuity.

...then again, obviously it's in my best interest that he's actually a genius and has a much more interesting and worthwhile story to tell, and actually does respect the characters like he claims in interviews.

So, yeah...wait and see.

#17 Posted by chocobojam (288 posts) - - Show Bio

Well...im sure that many other fans will gonna be angry if the only survivor is X-23.

#18 Posted by pspin (891 posts) - - Show Bio

@akbogert said:

@pspin said:

The only thing that is keeping me buying the book is my love of X-23...

Food for thought, particularly the paragraph with the bolding in it.

I know it is a bad habit, but there is also just enough nagging curiosity to keep me buying it for now. Besides issue one sales were 64,626, issue 2 was 43,014, and issue 3 was 38,461, it won't last long. As soon as it gets to about 20,000 it will get the ax.

@Timandm said:

True, but the pen of Loeb and the cape of Quesada trump canon and common sense every time... Mores the pity...

Ha ha. You do have a point about getting inside of Nico's head to make the staff not work. That was the other idea that I had was some sore of telepathic torture for all of the kids but it seemed less likely that the computer simulation idea. It is still a valid possibility though.

#19 Posted by akbogert (3194 posts) - - Show Bio

@chocobojam: I quite agree. The blog I linked to is me discussing how selfish it is for fans of particular characters to support the book just because they think their favorite might be safe, among other things.

@pspin: Well like I said, morbid curiosity can easily be satisfied without reading (I'd like to think I'm evidence of this). But yes, the declining sales figures are what's keeping me sane for now.

#20 Posted by Timandm (3374 posts) - - Show Bio
@pspin: I've had a thought!   It happens...  In the Marvel universe there is a relationship between iron and magic.  Somehow, iron (and by extension some other metals) tend to diminish or negate the effects of magic.  That's why Colossus was able to kill Onslaught, and why Mercury was able to user her body to shield Ilyana from the magic of Belasco while in Limbo.
 
So, how about this...  Arcade has inundated Nico's system with iron microbots that impede certain spells... I'm reaching but...
#21 Posted by John Valentine (16270 posts) - - Show Bio

Yep, I was thinking this after the first two issues. Still, I actually like this series.

#22 Posted by pspin (891 posts) - - Show Bio

@Timandm: Maybe, but that seems like a stretch. Maybe the island is on top of an iron vein and that is effecting it. Or the forcefield that is keeping them inside is also a all-purpose magic dampening field that screws with everything. That iron idea would be pretty cool and different if they went with it though.

#23 Posted by Timandm (3374 posts) - - Show Bio
@pspin said:

@Timandm: Maybe, but that seems like a stretch. Maybe the island is on top of an iron vein and that is effecting it. Or the forcefield that is keeping them inside is also a all-purpose magic dampening field that screws with everything. That iron idea would be pretty cool and different if they went with it though.

True!  Makes me think of the movie Armageddon.  The ship landed on the asteroid on a spot that was basically an iron plate because a layer of the terrain under them was compressed iron ferrite.   As a result they couldn't transmit signals to NASA.  What you're suggesting would sort of be the same thing but in a magical sense....  Works  for me...