Issue #7 is out. So let's talk.

Once upon a time I loathed Avengers Arena. I joined a comic community explicitly because I needed to vent about the series. I acquired a bit of a reputation as a hater. I wrote blog after blog on the subject. I pointed to what I perceived to be massive plotholes and inconsistencies, like the lack of feasibility in Arcade's ability to teleport teenagers from secure locations and have them be untraceable. Like the dampening of the power of one of the most powerful magic artifacts in the universe. Like the blood that came from the body of a bloodless boy as he was blown to smithereens in front of a girlfriend who showed little signs of caring over proceeding issues despite only a few days having transpired since that traumatic experience. I ranted against the triviality of it all, the heartless way Marvel had consigned at least some of these kids to die in a book which had yet to warrant its own inherent usefulness beyond the mere deathmatch premise.

And always, people pointed to Issue #7, the upcoming tell-all in which Dennis Hopeless promised to explain everything away.

Well Issue #7 is out. So let's talk.

As usual, Comic Vine has been pretty quiet. Can't remember the last time an official review for the series came out and it took me a while to even find the one user review on the site (side note: it's almost impossible to find user reviews and that's assuming you even know they're there to be found). So I prowled elsewhere, looking for answers. I read this thread, and here are some of the points I've gathered:

- Arcade is definitely Arcade. He has not been granted supernatural powers by some more serious villain.

- The deaths are real. Mettle fans can officially be furious without reservation now.

- The deus ex machina shifted, but is still there: the overarching explanation for how someone had the know-how and wherewithal to teleport these kids from secure locations in an entirely untraceable way is still blatantly missing. So it wasn't Arcade's genius, but Coriander's. Cool. We're still just told "it's a secure teleportation system" and expected to accept that.

- As CBR user Croakamancer put it, "The island's just another Murderworld, there's no long term goal or interesting motivation beyond 'because I can'. Which means all I'm left with is a bunch of dead teenagers." This isn't a trap to lure in bigger guns. This is Arcade -- the guy who still depended entirely on someone else's intellect and skills to make anything of himself -- picking the low-hanging fruit.

Reading comments of course brings to mind the seemingly omnipresent arguments regarding this book. Complaints that there wasn't something more intriguing behind Arcade's actions were met with eye rolls and "duh." So at least some of the book's fanbase actively thinks and enjoys the idea that this book is nothing but a teen bloodbath. One reader says, and this is a direct quote, "I can't wait to see who dies horribly next."

And of course, the typical "if you don't like it, don't read it, and stop complaining." Tell me, please, how reading or not reading this book helps Mettle fans? How whether they're reading or not actually has any bearing on their "right" to be upset about what has happened within the book? How any fan of the other characters, and who may lose those characters, needs to be reading the book to have a right to be upset about it? I guess I'm just dense because I've never understood that particular line of thinking.

So this is really happening. Which means all the characterization problems? That's Hopeless, not a VR malfunction. The harsh truth that these kids are really going to be dead (and that Mettle really is dead)? No more wishful thinking, no more speculation. Arcade wants to see people die, and he has, and he will -- and the readers who don't want to see that? You picked the wrong book.

Or so it seems.

I know that there are faithful readers here. And most of them have read my prior complaints. Many have given Hopeless and Marvel the benefit of the doubt, and particularly predicated those caveats on the assumption that this issue would clear things up in a satisfactory way.

So which of my complaints would you say should be put to rest now that the big reveal issue is out? Specifics would be nice because, as you all know, I'm not paying Marvel to put my favorite characters in jeopardy so all my knowledge is through the (admittedly thin) grapevine. But it sounds like about as unsatisfying an explanation as I predicted, so if it wasn't and important details were left out of that thread and others like it, I'd like to hear it from the Viners ^_^

17 Comments
17 Comments
Posted by Ravager4

I'm really rather fed up with DC and Marvel not giving a crap about characters who don't fall in the A-list category, and treating them like disposable plot points that can just be changed to fit whatever story they want to tell. It utterly sickens me, and is really turning me off to the big two in a big way. I don't read comics to see characters I enjoy continually mistreated, written like garbage, killed off, or otherwise brushed aside in favor of the cash cows. If you're part of the Justice League or the Avengers, or the X-Men, or related to Batman in some way? Great, you're up on a pedestal and no one can touch you. Everyone else? Screw you, you're fodder who can be thrown away in a snuff book and your fans don't have a right to complain about it.

Makes me wonder why I read anything other than independent comics.

Posted by akbogert

@ravager4: I hear you, man. I've been wondering why I read comics since I started reading comics, basically.

The thing is, I'm always careful to avoid saying "this book is just about killing teens," because people always accuse me of saying that and then dismiss anything else I say as if I couldn't hold any valid opinions if one thought about the premise were wrong. But here's my question: for Arcade, it really is just about the death, about "winning" against kids who never had a chance in the first place (I'd say the whole system is the "cheating" part -- he doesn't need to actively cheat (though it seems he's doing that too).

So when the lead villain in your book is "just about killing," and your author is really excited about making him a force to be reckoned with, what worthwhile other "point" is left? I've established before that the characterization parts aren't necessarily their own justification for this book, but rather tie into Hopeless wanting to kill kids and needing to make you upset about it before he does.

So now that we know for sure that, at least from Arcade's standpoint, nothing about this story means anything beyond the death and making him feel better, I really do want to hear from the people who have been defending this book as "something more" what precisely that "more" is.

Posted by akbogert

Issue 8 comes out tomorrow, and I got pretty much no response from anyone reading the book (and I know there are people out there, because they used to respond in droves), so I'm giving this a bump. Hopefully not for naught.

Posted by MatKrenz

I think for Arcade the "just about killing" aspect is interesting. It's Arcade were talking about here, he's a joke. He has always failed, has it been pointed out in issue 7 and he just wants easy targets so he can say "Hey look who I killed, dumb brats that were under the protection of the Avengers and they didn't even know it". As for issue 8 I can't wait for the new arc, "Game On" is gonna be dope with everyone playing the game now since Anachronism chopped off Kid Briton's head.

Also sorry it took me so long to find and respond to this but since the site revamp they took out followers blogs and put it under "Your Friends", where I follow tons of people who post a ton on forumss and edit the wiki a bunch.

Posted by akbogert

@matkrenz: oh, no worries. If it weren't so pointless I'd probably have started writing rants about how awful the redesign has made thing. I agree that finding anything -- even stuff written by people you "follow," -- has become unreasonably hard to do.

I guess the thing that throws me is that nothing really has changed at all, though people were acting like this was a "brand new, force-to-be-reckoned-with Arcade." He owes none of his "victory" to his own strength or intellect. He's still a joke, but not one that readers can be expected to find funny, now that his success is derived not from an overhaul of his skillset but by a quite literal deus ex machina which enables him to beat those he shouldn't be able to.

Edited by MatKrenz

@akbogert: Maybe that's the point. In Arcade's mind he thinks everything is different because he has new gadgets and he's putting more emphasis on letting the "contestants" kill each other so he thinks he re-imagined himself but as the readers we still see him as Arcade with the same tricks just with more swagger to his speech and the way he talks to people.

Posted by akbogert

@matkrenz: So instead of killing off characters people love to prove that Arcade is a real threat, we kill them off to prove that he still is lame?

I'm still missing the actual justification for the deaths that might make them in any way palatable to people who cared about them.

Posted by MatKrenz

@akbogert: Oh, I ain't got nothing on that front.

Edited by akbogert
Posted by RazzaTazz

Maybe you have dealt with this elsewhere, but why continue reading it if you find it to be so bad? I generally deem a series to be not worth my while if it costs too much or aggravates me longer than three issues.

Moderator
Posted by k4tzm4n

Can't remember the last time an official review for the series came out

Sorry man, most of the time I'm shelling out my own money for the comics I review (occasionally we're lucky enough to get .pdfs from the big two) and honestly, I didn't want to keep spending my limited budget on it.

Staff
Posted by akbogert

@razzatazz: Oh, I don't read it. I read every scrap I can find about it, but the book itself I don't read.

Why do I follow it? Because some of my favorite characters -- including my actual favorite -- are on the chopping block, and while I refuse to finance the book that threatens them, I have a vested interest in keeping tabs on their fates. Particularly as I've promised to stop reading Marvel altogether if they kill my favorite.

@k4tzm4n: No apologies necessary! I'm honestly relieved it's not considered a must-read.

Posted by RazzaTazz

@akbogert: Oh I see, that is a fair explanation. So you just read issue synopses and read fan forums?

Moderator
Posted by akbogert

@razzatazz: Yes. As well as interviews, promos, letters sections when I can get them, preview pages, and I scour twitter for tags (as well as checking the writer and editor's twitter feeds from time to time). I know people are going to dismiss what I say because it's not all firsthand knowledge, but I always leave the door open for correction if I say something that's actually wrong; it's rare that anyone demonstrates that I am.

When the first issue became free during the 700 issue promotion, I downloaded and read that. I just won't pay for it.

Posted by TimeLordScience

While I'm new to Marvel and don't really have an emotional connection to the characters, I totally empathize with your being unsettled with the direction.

Edited by The Stegman

It's all a virtual reality simulation.

Edited by akbogert

@timelordscience: Empathy's always appreciated. At this point I'm just trying to develop some for the people I disagree with, but they've given me little to work with.

@the_stegman: I'm not sure if you're trolling (i.e. didn't read the issue, the blog, or the article I linked to), or if you're actually suggesting that everything, even Arcade's "rise to power," is part of a still-larger simulation.