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Avengers Arena: Battle Royale meets Lord of the Flies?

Avengers Arena #1, by Dave Johnson (left), and Avengers Arena #2, by Chris Bachalo

Last week Marvel unveiled Dave Johnson’s terrific homage to the Battle Royale movie poster with his cover for the first issue of Avengers Arena, a series launching as part of Marvel NOW! in which 16 young heroes are pitted against each other for entertainment by Arcade. Continuing the brutal theme of child versus child, The Beat now has the first look at Chris Bachalo’s cover for Issue 2, a clever ode to Baron Storrey’s illustration for the 1980 Perigree edition of Lord of the Flies, by William Golding.

Maybe we should’ve expected more homages when editor Bill Rosemann dropped a handful of allusions in a Q&A last week at Marvel.com: “Avengers Arena gives a high concept itch a superhuman scratch. Throughout history, societies have sent their young adults against one another in competition, whether that’s in war, sports or American Idol. Likewise, art has examined this phenomenon of the older generation sacrificing the younger generation—and also of young warring gangs wanting to prove who’s #1—in everything from the myth of Theseus vs. the Minotaur to Lord of the Flies to Battle Royale to Starship Troopers to Survivor to Hunger Games. Teen vs. teen competition is as old as storytelling—but now it’s time to give it the Marvel twist.”

Perhaps then we should look for those Starship Troopers and Hunger Games (ahem) tributes with issues 3 and 4. Avengers Arena, by Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker, debuts in December.

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11 Comments

Marvel: Always 12 years late with their ideas.

How long was it after the zombie craze, Marvel decided to do Marvel Zombies? 3 years?

The Walking Dead came out in 2003, Shaun of the Dead in 2004 and Marvel Zombies in 2005. I’m not sure where the 3 years late idea comes in to play. Furthermore, I wasn’t aware that the zombie crazed ever really died considering the success of the Walking Dead TV show and the myriad of zombie junk that can be seen everywhere. Sure as comic fans we’ve been bombarded by it and it may be a bit tiring but it’s still pretty prominent.

Regardless I don’t think instantly labeling an idea as faddish is smart. Rosemann even says “Teen vs. teen competition is as old as storytelling.” There’s 46 years between Lord of the Flies and Battle Royale and another 9 between Battle Royale and Hunger Games. Point being that each of those books are pretty celebrated (although the jury is still out on how celebrated the Hunger Games will be in the long run). Good ideas are good ideas and while some may say it’s a stolen or lifted idea I think it’s simply a matter of Marvel having found an interesting story to play with.

No, I’m pretty sure it’s just Battle Royale. In fact, based on that statement, I’m wondering if Rosemann has ever read Lord of the Flies or Starship Troopers.

As opposed to ripping off America’s Got Powers? Is this the latest “big” Idea from the House?

I’ve always wanted to read a book where all the characters are victims and no real win is possible (because we’ve been promised “a lot of murder”, so our heroes have already failed). Who wants to read superhero books that have superheroics in them, anyway?

I can’t hit my head on my desk hard enough.

Fuck you marvel.

Urgh. This idea was crap when DC did it, in Countdown: Arena, and I doubt it’s improved in the meantime. I’m not looking forward to this at all.

More derivative and unimaginative stuff

But, that’s become the norm in movies and music too

I wonder, during the fall of the Roman empire, if their culture (ie art) cannibalized itself too

“Lord of the Flies” is a story about inherent violent failings in humanity, shown through the eyes of children so as to accentuate, highlight, and critique the horror of it. The kids aren’t sent to a death battle, but thrown into a situation where they have to work together to survive with nature as the challenge. “Hunger Games” flips it, starting off with a premise of teen death battles and using that as a kind of warning/comment about the horrifically violent, exploitative state of our society.

So I guess the “Marvel twist” on these themes is to just skip all that “what’s our world coming to” stuff and revel in the spectacle of children killing each other.

Contrary to what’s implied here (“It’s OK if we do it — EVERYONE does it!”), Marvel has an obligation to take on and dismantle uncomfortable aspects of society through these stories, not just display them. That’s the obligation of any publisher worthy of the name, not just Marvel.

“Cabin In the Woods” did a much better job of attacking the disturbing, condemnable, and unfortunately pervasive anti-youth streak in our culture.

I guess “Avengers Arena” sounded better than “A Bunch Of Characters We Have No Clue What To Do With.”

Which is a shame, because I see some Runaways and Avengers Academy characters in there that I like quite a bit, so I have no interest in reading a comic that is essentially designed as nothing but an excuse to kill them off Battle Royale/Hunger Games-style…

I just want to point out that I find it amusing THIS story is being written by a guy named Hopeless.

Where was he for AVX?

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