PTSD in superhero comics is a funny thing (in reality, not so much) in that it basically doesn’t exist. Whether you want to make the argument that society at large has been dealing with superpowered/technological terrors for decades and maybe they’ve just gotten good at coping, or if everyone in New York, San Francisco and LA simply exist in a state of constant, supressed trauma or, the most likely case, most comic book storylines predate the notion that psychological realism belongs in mainstream superhero books. As a result, a book that deals with it, even if it’s still a fairly pop-psychological definition of it, is quite the novelty. Dennis Hopeless shows us the aftermath of the horrific Murder World and a group of kid superheroes who have been absolutely torn apart mentally by the trauma they endured and, in some cases, inflicted, but he also does an absolutely stellar job at showing how cold and callous the world is toward their plight. From the greasy hater talking about what HE would’ve done in Hazmat’s place, to an EXTRAORDINARILY creepy Death Locket fanboy trying to tell her how heroic she was, the world doesn’t understand what these kids went through any more than they do. This issue mostly follows them around, showing them interacting with the world, but one in particular, Cullen Bloodstone, becomes the focal point when he’s shown attempting to hunt down Arcade, and that’s when the band gets back together, so to speak.
Kev Walker brings the visuals that made Avengers Arena the gut-wrenching, breakout hit it was and he’s actually gotten even MORE detailed. His character designs allow each character to stand out (especially Chase’s new and...I hesitate to say “improved” look...it DEFINITELY makes a statement...) and be easily identifiable on-panel. Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s color work is absolutely stellar, bringing an enormous life and energy to every page. There’s very little that could be considered “mundane” when we’re dealing with these characters, but what passes for it these days looks incredible, vibrant and super-detailed.
Even after three months, it’s a little difficult to believe these kids would be able to either evade capture or be let back into “normal” society. They obviously experienced a massively traumatic experience and their parents/legal guardians/fellow superheroes found out about it, AND they, by and large, refuse to talk about it. It seems like they should be in therapy or, at the very least, confined to whatever grounds they go to/live on but only Death Locket seems to be in custody.
Avengers Undercover makes a fantastic first impression and picks up most of the best characters (who survived) from Avengers Arena. Anyone who thought the horrific events of Arena would be forgotten/swept under the rug, you feared in vain because it’s clear that these kids, most of whom aren’t appearing in any other books, aren’t done working through their pain, nor their hunger for vengeance against the one who wronged them. I think it's a truly novel idea to have actual trauma being dealt with in such a genuine way rather than just having the characters move onto their next adventure.