The Avengers Arena Virtual Reality Theory (why it MIGHT BE valid)

Let me preface this by saying that I was actually excited for Avengers Arena. Battle Royale's one of my favorite movies so going with that set up had me jazzed. X-23, Nico Minoru, and Chase Stein are my top three favorite Marvel characters so I was glad to see them again.

Then the feedback came and it told a different story.

Apparently almost everyone hated it, shots were fired, things were said, some of which I'm guilty of. But in the end I decided to leave well enough alone, keep reading, and go on my merry. If the book turned out good I'd have a good laugh to myself, and if not then the worst thing it did was waste my time and I'd just have to go find a better book.

Now from what I gather, there's seems to be a theory floating around that this is all a virtual reality, which given this is Arcade's doing makes sense. He's done it before. The problem that people pointed out was that if this was a virtual reality then where's the tension? Good point, where is the tension? What if there never was to begin with?

Now you're probably asking yourself, how does that justify the Virtual Reality theory man?

I have to admit this gave me something to think about. Then I changed the focus from WHAT to WHY and something dawned on me.

I realized something about all these kids, they are the future of superheroes. If this is a virtual reality they are gonna come out of it completely different then when they went in. They are gonna view themselves and each other in dramatically different lights. And what better way to cripple the superheroes of tomorrow than to sow dissent and distrust among them right now.

In other words, Arcade may be doing this not to entertain himself but to sabotage the future. But there's still one elephant in the room, is this what Dennis Hopeless is going for?

I don't know. I don't know the guy, I've never spoken with him, I'm not in his head, I know about as much as everyone else does at the moment. However he has said that what will define this book is the choices the characters make, and if my theory holds, I can only imagine what all these kids are gonna think of each other when all is said and done.

Now is Avengers Arena gonna be as good as I first thought, oh God definitely not. It's pacing so far has been very uneven, there's a real lack of the kill or be killed atmosphere, and six issues in and there's finally a fight. If this is gonna be a twelve issue series it has not gotten off to a good start at all. But is it gonna be as bad as the nay sayers well say? I'm holding out hope that may not be the case. I'm just gonna keep reading and see where it goes, and if it's good, if it's bad, well I already pointed that out.

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X-23 in the Ultimate Universe? It may just be happening.

Okay for those of you tuning in, I saw that they put X-23 into issue 23 of Ultimate Comics X-Men. Now why is this a big deal, because up until now we had heard no mention of there even being an Ultimate version of X-23 and assumed she was going to be confined to the main universe.

Now the big question is, "Is this really happening?" Well at this point all I can say is, I don't know.

Honestly, I kind of liked that Jimmy Hudson was the only one of Wolverine's kids occupying the Ultimate universe. Why, cause Jimmy having the Ultimate U to himself was a way for him to build his own rep and maybe prove that he could be as good as X-23. Now them both being there, my fear is that Brian Wood's overlords will tell him to give Laura the spotlight more than Jimmy. Course more than likely I'm over-thinking the whole situation and this may not end up being the case as I can't say for certain how much Brian Wood likes X-23.

Now as I try to look at the glass half full, what are the positives of this happening? Well for one it's a big opportunity to explore Laura with a different backstory. You have to remember that X-23 is largely a product of her environment. All the emotional numbness that's become associated with her character, that came from the abuse and trauma she experienced growing up it wasn't hardwired into her personality from birth. Putting her in the Ultimate universe, Brian Wood would have the freedom to explore her with a whole new backstory and thus dramatically different personality. In this universe maybe she got to have a normal childhood, imagine what she would be like with that setup. Maybe she's more upbeat, positive, has a bit of a tomboy streak. And hey we may even get see Jimmy learn more about Logan through Laura, like the two going on a journey trying to learn the secrets of Logan's past. I always thought that if X was put into the Ultimate universe at this point, the only way would have been if she was Jimmy's half sister, so we can see some sibling bonding. There so many opportunities here.

The only real problem I see at the moment is that X-23 was neither mentioned by name in the issue, nor was given a label to identify her as such. So I'm not 100% convinced that it was her, however I don't believe that Comicvine would make a mistake as basic as this, so I'm not convinced that it's not her either. Now what also convinces me that this might be X-23 was that issue 22 had mentioned more mutants coming to Utopia. So it's possible that may see her again.

Then again there's possibility that she was put in here simply because this was issue 23 of an X-Men title. (God I hope that's not the case)

Now like I said I have no idea if this is really gonna be a thing. If it is, I'll stick with it and see where it goes. So far Brian Wood hasn't let me down as a writer, he knows how to make an old idea fresh, just look at DV8 Gods & Monsters. And if it doesn't, eh oh well. But I guess I do hope it is.

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The Top 10 Comic Books That Define Brett Smith

It's no secret that I love comics. I grew up on the Spiderman and Batman cartoons. (And by that I mean what my family could rent as we didn't have cable till I was 10). I didn't really seriously get into comics till my high school years, which was also around the same time I got into anime and metal seriously. So which comics did I find that shaped me into the comic fan I am today? I think you'll be surprised by what makes and doesn't make my list. (Slight spoiler alert)

10. DV8 Gods & Monsters:

Brian Wood and Rebekah Isaacs took a book that had not seen print in over a decade and made it fresh, entertaining, and thought provoking. The idea is a group of super powered youths that don't like each other or what they do are dropped onto a primitive world where they are treated like gods. And while there they learn things about themselves and the responsibility that comes with having their powers. Whether you followed DV8 from the beginning or just got into it, Gods and Monsters is written in a way that newcomers aren't lost and honors the themes established from day one.

9. Hellboy:

Combining the best of pulp fiction, classic horror, folklore, mythology, and HP Lovecraft with Mike Mignola's unique art style, Hellboy under Mignola stands as one of the most entertaining reads I've ever had. And of course Hellboy stands as one of the best characters of all time.

8. Origin:

Being a longtime Wolverine fan it's no secret that one of his books would end up here. Telling the story of where everyone's favorite hairy Canadian came from, what I love about this book is the emotional impact it leaves on you. Paul Jenkins shows how a young James Howlett grew into the gruff and mean Logan who would go onto to be one of the most dangerous men on the planet, and it's tragic ending is nothing short of impactful. If you dare call yourself a Wolverine fan and haven't read Origin go read it.

7. The Crow:

We all know the movie the starred the late Brandon Lee but how many of you know about the comic. Yeah the movie's pretty tragic but the comic's something else entirely. From the poetic prose of Eric's narration and dialogue to the awe inspiring art by James O'Barr to the raw emotion and pain that flows from every page, the Crow stands as one of the most somberly beautiful comics I've ever read.

6. The Walking Dead:

Zombie fan so yeah this would end up here. Where George Romero movies focus on the chaos caused by the crisis itself, Robert Kirkman goes one step further and focuses on the people as they have to face the threats from the zombies, but also from within their own groups. As friends turn each other and alliances are made, we keep wondering how much longer can any of these people stay alive?

5. Watchmen

Everyone and their brother have talked about how great this book is so here's the short version. Blah Blah Blah Alan Moore Blah Blah Blah Multi-layered and complex narrative Blah Blah Blah Thought provoking questions Blah Blah Blah Memorable characters Blah Blah Blah Changed how comics were perceived.

4. Runaways

I wouldn't have gotten into comics seriously had it not been for Runaways. Every kid at some point thinks their parents are evil, well in Runaways that's actually the case. What draws you into the book is the characters, the kids all burst with personality and you really feel the bond between them as they become each other's family and are forced to grow up before they're ready. One of the best team and teen books Marvel ever put out (save a lame last arc) here's hoping Avengers Arena and their rumored upcoming movie brings them back.

3. X-23

Laura Kinney is my favorite character out of Marvel, there I said it. And if I can be allowed something controversial... Margerie Liu got the character better than her creators Craig Kyle and Chris Yost ever did. Now don't take that as me saying their stuff was bad cause it wasn't. But Kyle and Yost kept piling problems onto Laura and whether it was narrative necessity or something they never got around to doing, they never really tried to fix them and help her grow. After being through a childhood from hell, a life as an assassin, her mother's death, a soldier for X-Force, and a cutter on top of that, it was nice to see someone come by and finally get X-23 past all the crap in her life. I loved this book from start to finish for those very reasons, seeing Laura finally become a person and move past all the bad things that happened to her. And no I was not broken up about the break up between her and Hellion. (I never liked him anyway, I thought he was dull)

2. Berserk

Yeah I know manga, but it's still technically a comic, it's just a comic from Japan. I love Berserk for its MacBethian story, its epic artwork, and the great characters found in the likes of Guts, Griffith, and others. Guts is without a doubt one of the most badass characters out there and I love he's made to embody the strength of human will. The guy will not give up, and despite a less than immaculate past Guts is still a good and honorable man at heart. Read Berserk people! Benchmark for dark fantasy if you ask me.

1. The Sandman

Neil Gaiman's my favorite writer of all time, makes sense right. Never before have I read a comic that was as dark, surreal, fantastical, atmospheric, and imaginative as the Sandman. I love how Gaiman makes nods here and there to other mythologies while crafting his own. I love the character of Morpheus, he's mysterious and yet at the same time he brings a feeling of calm. He is not a being to be feared but to be awed. Reading the Sandman the feelings range from dread, to quirky but there is always a sense of wonder as you walk through the world of dreams. The Sandman mt favorite comic book of all time.

So you know the comics that define me as a comic fan, now show me the ones that define you. Put up a blog entry and show me.

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