Comic Vine Review

18 Comments

Avengers Arena #16 - Boss Level Part 3 of 5 Review

4

Finally the participants are pushed to their breaking point as an infiltration mission goes awry.

The Good

Avengers Arena's first season is coming to a close, and one of the most controversial books on the shelf isn't pulling any punches. The kids' psyches and resolve have been slowly whittled down over the last 29 days, and they're finally ready to break and go full-on Lord of the Flies, but it actually feels like a logical place for the book to get to after sixteen issues. We've seen all sorts of different reactions from the various factions that have formed and especially the kids within those factions and even the kids created for this very book feel like an organic part of the Marvel U. Dennis Hopeless has crafted a story about being pushed to the absolute limits, both mentally and physically, and that's an interesting place for superpowered individuals to be at. I remember when this book first came out and was being dismissed as a stunt, killing established characters for shock value, but actually very few characters (the recap page tells us only 6/16) have been killed. It certainly began with a bang, but that's called getting a reader's attention. This has been one of the most interesting books to continue reading, because everyone is expendable and no one has the golden halo of being a Main Character, so the reader doesn't know what's going to happen next. That very fact seems to put some people off. At the same time, the writing has been consistently strong and the characters (all sixteen, plus Arcade and more) have been written with a consistent logic and clear vision. One of the best things about this issue is how the interactions between the characters, some of which have built up over the previous fifteen issues, finally dissolve and it all feels very organic. We also reach the point that was alluded to in the first issue (Hazmat VS X-23), so now we truly have no idea what's going to happen next.

Karl Moline continues his duties as penciler with Mark Pennington and Rick Magyar, as well as himself, on inks and Jean-Francois Beaulieu on colors with admittedly mixed results. The characters all maintain their distinct look and the action continues to be as animated as it is hard-hitting, particularly during the action scenes, but it's when the book slows down and becomes, without spoiling too much, more about espionage and choosing the right moment than superpowers banging into one another that the art truly comes together and shines.

The Bad

As good as the art is in general, a few individual panels fall victim to the "too many chefs spoil the broth" principle. Some pages look more busy than they need to, and a lot of characters look overly muddy and indistinct and it becomes clear that a whole lot of people were working on this project. It isn't that you can't tell one from the other, quite the contrary based on their designs, it's that you can't see the finer details in each panel. It's muddy to the point of being indistinct, and outside of a horror comic, that doesn't work.

Certain aspects of the dissolution of what could be called civility seem a little bit rushed as both Nico and Chase seem to rather suddenly decide that it's time to take things to another level and begin fighting for keeps rather than trying to keep everyone united and calm. It's not a terribly glaring moment, but it does seem just a bit forced.

The Verdict

It's funny that this book has taken so much flak for being a "stunt" or "killing so many characters" when really, over sixteen issues, Hopeless has killed fewer characters than Superboy Prime did back in a single issue of Infinite Crisis. None of the deaths, no, not even the ones that made everyone so very angry at the beginning, were done arbitrarily or without reason and that's the linchpin that holds the entire book together in the end. There's a certain suspense that holds the book together that is absent from a LOT of mainstream books, and it's what I mentioned before: you honestly don't know who's going to live and who's going to die.

19 Comments
Edited by MatKrenz

I loved Katy and Tim's back and forth was hilarious in the issue. Also Tim and Deathlockets relationship is really nice. Im gonna be sad and impatient when this ends.

Posted by blackkitty

I think you miss understand, I honestly do not care about the deaths, except to say that the premise of this book is to take heroes and make them behave in a manner against their hero training. That said, he seems to have backed off that premise, but the entire premise of the book is just bad and further goes to support the complaint that Marvel can not come up with original plots.

Posted by majingojira

I'm still baffled that people believe the deaths in here weren't all throw away when even Hopeless himself admitted that one was intentionally a throw away and pointless -- and he regrets it. Let's not mention Juston. I'm tired of people bending over backwards and over analyzing single panels to justify that thing.

What is said to drive it forward is, really, all it has. The "Suspense" of who will die is the only thing driving it forward, and that shallowness is the real undoing of the series. It has nothing to offer other than "What happens next". It's hard to look back on it without finding faults or even finding fans who look back and go "That was a great scene" or "That death really worked in the long run." There's only "What happens next" and nothing else.

And honestly? When everyone involved has to act really stupid in order for the suspense to work, it just doesn't.

Posted by Ravager4

"At the same time, the writing has been consistently strong and the characters (all sixteen, plus Arcade and more) have been written with a consistent logic and clear vision."

LOL

no.

just no.

Posted by Cafeterialoca

This book is bullcrap!

You're seriously telling me that Nico, goes from defending the kids, to attacking them cause "No more affection, I died once, lesson learned?!" That's like me dying defending people from a murderer, and rising from the dead to attack the same people I was defending!

IT MAKES NO SENSE!!! This book is horrendous!!! This book is garbage and a slap in the face of people who grew up with Nico, Chase, and so on! It's a platform for Hopeless to launch his NEW characters!!!

Is there some voodoo curse on this book that make people overlook the blatantly horrible writing?! THERE ISN'T EVEN AN ULTIMATUM! WHY ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO KILL EACH OTHER BEFORE THE LAST DAY?!

THIS BOOK IS SO STUPID! HOW CAN PEOPLE LIKE IT?! HOW CAN PEOPLE DEFEND IT?!!!!!

YOU ARE KILLING GOOD IDEAS BY SUPPORTING THIS BOOK!!!!!!

Posted by akbogert

In an effort to rein back my general antagonism (especially since it's more useful when directed towards the book and team than any one reviewer or fan), I'll focus on this:

"Certain aspects of the dissolution of what could be called civility seem a little bit rushed as both Nico andChase seem to rather suddenly decide that it's time to take things to another level and begin fighting for keeps rather than trying to keep everyone united and calm. It's not a terribly glaring moment, but it does seem just a bit forced."

Corey's definition of "terribly glaring" and mine seem to differ rather sharply. That this uncharacteristic and -- even according to someone who liked it -- "sudden" aggressiveness on the behalf of characters who have no reason to exhibit it would have been bad in itself (maybe even not terribly glaring), but the fact that their inexplicable aggression serves as the catalyst for this "final brawl" IS glaring.

Simply put, this fight wasn't earned. It certainly wasn't a slow and inevitable build, character-wise, over the course of fifteen prior issues (well, thirteen, not including the Arcade spotlight or Gage's guest issue). People were rightly surprised by the previews and their surprise is not ameliorated by the actual issue's unfolding. The fact that the fight begins with two characters behaving inconsistently in such a way as to force a fight takes the wind out of that sail really quickly to me.

---

And on a side note, since this is probably the best place to discuss the issue, I am very curious as to how the CV community wants to take up the gauntlet thrown down in the letters section. Hopeless was accused of abusing Juston's character (I myself accused him of including Juston JUST to give Apex a dangerous toy to play with), and killing him after having used him in a way which didn't really develop or serve him at all. Hopeless' response was to chastise the reader for criticizing him and to brush that interpretation off as completely wrong. I put the question out on Tumblr and I'm putting it here as well -- especially to those who continue to defend the book -- what alternative (and diametrically opposed) understanding of Juston's "character arc" you possess that doesn't involve him barely appearing in the book, disappearing, being found alive and crippled, and then being killed one issue later without ever having any role or agency in the story whatsoever.

Edited by MatKrenz
Edited by Dernman

@cafeterialoca: @akbogert: I agree things seemed off. In fact it's so off I'm wondering if things are not what they appear to be.

Posted by akbogert

@dernman said:

@cafeterialoca: @akbogert: I agree things seemed off. In fact it's so off I'm wondering if things are not what they appear to be.

(By the way, I accidentally flagged your post because my mouse slipped as I clicked. I immediately clicked again and hopefully that unflagged it but in case you or anyone gets a notification, no, I did not mean to flag that)

With only two issues left, I'm not going to bother even having an opinion. If there's some massive twist, it won't undo the avalanche of problems I've had (or make up for the flippant attitude towards fans which Marvel, Hopeless, and editorial have demonstrated). Nevertheless, as it's obviously preferable to having some (most?) of the events of this book stand canonically, I'll happily celebrate if things truly do prove to have been off for good reason.

I don't expect it but at this point, like I said, we'll know soon enough that speculation doesn't interest me :)

Edited by TheAcidSkull

@cafeterialoca said:

This book is bullcrap!

You're seriously telling me that Nico, goes from defending the kids, to attacking them cause "No more affection, I died once, lesson learned?!" That's like me dying defending people from a murderer, and rising from the dead to attack the same people I was defending!

IT MAKES NO SENSE!!! This book is horrendous!!! This book is garbage and a slap in the face of people who grew up with Nico, Chase, and so on! It's a platform for Hopeless to launch his NEW characters!!!

Is there some voodoo curse on this book that make people overlook the blatantly horrible writing?! THERE ISN'T EVEN AN ULTIMATUM! WHY ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO KILL EACH OTHER BEFORE THE LAST DAY?!

THIS BOOK IS SO STUPID! HOW CAN PEOPLE LIKE IT?! HOW CAN PEOPLE DEFEND IT?!!!!!

YOU ARE KILLING GOOD IDEAS BY SUPPORTING THIS BOOK!!!!!!

this.

Nico has always been a great person and a leader above everything else, she has her B*tch moments but it was tied to attitude more than anything else, she was still a good person and a hero. this is just going overboard, Betraying everyone else except chase? the same chick who's hero career began with helping teenagers in need? f*ck no.

Edited by M3th

Jesus Christ if I live life, people are still hating on this series. It's almost over Dog Gonint

.

Edited by Thatlyn Yoaeg'ill'rymmin

I've only one Hope: that Hopeless get FIRED from the Comics Industry!

This book is simply... horrible? Shit? I can't find proper words... =_=

Posted by WinterFreakinSoldier

:)

Posted by ngrey651

The attitude of "I will kill off any character I want to invoke a sense of shock and horror in the reader" is wasteful. After all, why would we want fan favorites whom we adore to have MEANINGFUL deaths? No, we want them to be FLUFF for the story because at any time the fickle writer will kill them off! Yeah, THAT'S why I read comic books, TO WATCH KIDS DIE AND KILL EACH OTHER.

Oh, wait,

NO IT'S F--KING NOT!

Posted by etamogrey77

If the creator of nico can let the story go and move on why can't everyone else the series is almost over please don't hate because it puts your favorite characters in danger i mean its comics of course thier gonna be in trouble

Posted by majingojira

Lack of punctuation notwithstanding, that's just a plain old Appeal to Authority, a well known logical fallacy. It doesn't help your argument to use it. I understand that you don't like seeing a series you like ragged on, but keep in mind that the series' actions cause the exact same reaction in others. That is why I call it vile. All it does is cause strife.

Edited by The_Titan_Lord

Interesting.

Edited by tommyx

Still one of the most exciting books being published!