Robot 6

Exclusive Preview | Avengers Arena #4

Sixteen heroes enter, one hero leaves in Avengers Arena, the new Marvel NOW! series by Dennis Hopeless, Kev Walker and Allesandro Vitti. At least that’s the plan of the diabolical Arcade, who drops such young Marvel characters as X-23, Reptil, Nico, Chase, and Juston and his Sentinel into Murderworld for a twisted kill-or-be-killed reality-show scenario.

Marvel has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive preview of Avengers Arena #4, by Hopeless and Vitti, which the solicitation text teases pits the Runaways against Avengers Academy. The issue goes on sale Feb. 13.

Issue 5 – KEV WALKER (A)
Issue 4 & 5 Covers by DAVE JOHNSON
Issue 4 Variant Cover by BOBBY RUBIO
Issue 5 Variant Cover by JOE QUINONES
• Issue #4 = The Runaways vs. Avengers Academy!
• Issue #5 = The Braddock Academy vs…themselves?
• Plus: What is up with Chase and Darkhawk?
32 PGS. (EACH)/Rated T …$2.99 (EACH)



The transition from Kev Walker to Alessandro Vitti is sure to be jarring visually, but the switch may actually work for the narrative. Each Avengers Arena issue is told from a different character’s point-of-view, so the rotating styles could help to reinforce the change in perspective. And, Vitti’s pages look decent enough.

Still, the need for a fill-in artist at all is a shame, especially since the fill-in is a direct result of the series’ accelerated shipping schedule.

How awful to see the Runaways used this way. BKV created Runaways with such passion and love – and now they’re just kill fodder in the eyes of Hopeless.

Darkhawk the slayer from space?

I really wish you guys would stop buying this crap and send marvel a message

They’re NOT buying it, Dave, as the charts are compiled by collating pre-order numbers rather than sales.

There was actually a ton of these unsold in my LCS, and according to the clerk most were coming in and perusing the unbagged preview copy and then sneering at it after seeing who buys the farm. Same thing apparently happened with the first issue, but #2 was ordered in high numbers regardless to get variant covers for future issues. Apparantly happens all the time – they got a friggin’ TON of Before Watchmen books no-one is buying apart from Adam Hughes and Jim Lee collectors, but the books are high in the charts regardless.

One thing I’d like to know How would the Avengers not notice all these missing kids. What with the Academy kids being bumped up to Avenger status is the final issue, plus the Runaway’s kids are part of a very close-knit group one of whom is Related to one of the main Avengers.

Who says the Avengers aren’t going to notice?

I mean, one of the people kidnapped is Red Raven’s daughter. Surely you’d notice eventually if your daughter went missing.

But as of issue #2 everyone has only just been kidnapped, they’ve probably only been in Murderworld a handful of hours at most.

Give the series a chance, the first character to die was given a good death which was more than worthy of the character (the second, not so much). Plus Deathlocket is awesome.

You’re judging the book on what you think it’s going to be, it’s too early to tell how things are going to turn out.

Yes, characters will die, but that’s true with most comic book series. Look at Young Avengers, both Stature and Vision II died. The only difference here is that they’re including the death of young heroes as part of the premise.

This is a really well written book so far. Well paced, really good characters to date. great tonal quality, as much cuz of the coloring as the art. Its gonna be a really good book.

Arcade is actually cool now, and people need to remember that Avengers Academy was premised on gathering kids who could have become supervillians… so they all have that mean streak, but now its that much harder to turn away from that path. This is a far more honest exploration compulsions and emotions than having a superhero teachers always there to put’em back in line… they need to find their own compass. Plus, despite the sentimentality of Academy it was stalling a bit… I read them in the lead up to this book and as a whole it peaks and troughs and wallows a bit in emo exposition. Now theres no time to prevaricate. Everything serves the action, even the quiet scenes.

The new characters are good too, not all there to be red shirts except the curiously named Red Raven who died unnecissarily in #2 (perhaps as a meta refernce to red shirts, methinks Hopeless likes his puns). I have more concern for new characterrs being killed early than characters that have been gathering dust for years cuz they just arent able to survive on shelves without specific writers.
Deathlokette rocks, and I reckon Bloodstone jr is gonna be one of the newest heroes.
Oh, and keep your eye out for the Space Pandas!

Ignore the outrage being spouted by a few, most of that is confected misery by online attention seekers. And hypocrites who say nothing about other ethical questions raised in comics publishing that have far greater impact on the cultural discourse, like race and gender representations. The artist switch is inconsequential too, the complaining coming from nit pickers. This is a good book!!!

I should point out that Vaughan killed plenty of characters in RUNAWAYS.

This book is actually really good, and I wouldnt worry too much, theres been hints that this is all VR, so sit tight and wait it out.

Chris Velazquez

January 2, 2013 at 11:01 am

The book has an interesting premise, but so many plot holes and other things make me believe that, yeah, this is all fake. This is a big illusion, all in their heads. Because yeah, how did Arcade abduct them all? How did he bypass security everywhere? How come they’re gone and, at least for now and who knows how long, it seems that nobody can find them?

Most telling to me is how Arcade, who’s always been kind of a joke villain who’s more of a nuisance than a threat, and who’s never had any powers, is now all of a sudden completely omnipotent. He can fly, create forcefields, wipe the floor with over a dozen superpowered teens who could easily kill him if they wanted, and he can freaking disintegrate a teen with impervious, metallic skin with just a flick of his fingers? I am so not believing that.

That’s my theory, once it gets down to the end, Arcade will be stopped and it will be revealed that the kids are all alive and this was all a mass illusion or something.

@Chris Velazquez – this is a common problem for a great many members of the book’s audience, I think, in that there’s such a disparity between established canon and what we’ve seen in AA that hasn’t been explained, it throws the book into violation of the anthropic principle and causes readers to create their own “none of it is actually real” answers.

Having been one all my life, I am of the opinion that superhero readers just aren’t very discerning, and (growly voice) Avengers Arena may not be the comic we want, but it’s the comic we deserve.

Why, Hopeless? Why did you kill me?

Well, Mister Velazquez, I’m just so awesome that I can eat EVERYBODY and still be small then go to my base and barf them back up and they will be completely normal. Trust me on this one.

Ok people stop being buttonholes. It’s a comic book for peats sake!

I for one am not the biggest fan of this Avengers Arena, especially with the possibility of killing one of my all-time favorite characters, DarkHawk. The fact that DH isn’t a teen or a Runaway, or part of the Avengers Academy should exclude him from this book. He was an Avenger once though, part of the West Coast division back in the mid-90’s or so.

Another thing that bugs me is that DarkHawk had a kickass storyarc created a few years ago in the War and Reign on Kings by Abnett and Lanning in which the climax of that story had DH becoming the most wanted guy in the Marvel Universe after he was framed for the murder of the Shiar Empires Empress Lilandra. Marvel dropped the ball on this characters arc as far as I am concerned.

Also the end of AA # 3 had me confused. Who would have the ability to manipulate DH’s suit like that? I’ve followed that character since his debut in 1991 and in that time I have seen his amulet ripped from his android body by Tombstone and I’ve seen it obliterated by his nemesis, Evil Hawk. And yet, the character survived.

Furthermore, what is up with putting X-23 in this book. I’m pretty sure she’ll end up being the winner but if things worked out like they should, the kids should be teaming up to track down Arcade.

What bugs me most with Marvel and these days that’s is an understatement, is that kill off characters and bring them back with such frequency and nonchalance that death holds no special meaning. It’s just a marketing ploy. If anyone has read any of Marvel’s books in the last few years, the only one that has seemed to carry any resonance was the death of Peter Parker in Ultimates. The Death of Captain America could have held resonance if they had allowed the character to stay dead instead of bringing him back through some weird time-traveling gimmick. One of the most offensive to me though was Jonathan Hickman’s death of Human Torch. That book spent more time juggling various plot threads than it did in giving one of the original Marvel Heroes Stan Lee created a fitting departure. I was so offended by the way his “death” was written that I had done something I had never felt compelled to do before: I rewrote the ending.

My number 1 though on killing characters has to go to Dan Slott’s death of Peter Parker in Amazing Spider-man # 700. Why Dan couldn’t have let Doc Ock go with some dignity is beyond me, other than a) he has officially run out of ideas for the character or b) he loves Doc Ock more than Peter Parker. Either way, this “Superior” spider-man is an insult. Peter Parker is the soul of that character, not Ben Reily, Kane, Miles Morales or a villain like Doc Ock.

Killing characters like DH or any of those characters rather than nurturing them as the next generation is a tragedy. Marvel touts about its library of 8,000 characters yet they hardly even use 10% of that. I wonder how Marvel hopes to survive another 50 years if it doesn’t wake up and start making better use of its stock and writing a better class of story with its characters. It was my dream to work for that company and if I could have I would taken Chris Powell/Dark Hawk and transformed him into someone that was just as badass as Tony Stark and the same goes for X-23 but with Hopeless doing what he is in AA, that dream seems, pun intended, hopeless.

This whole thing just screams “blatant Hunger Games cashcow” to me, it’s not even trying to hide that. And even ignoring that it’s a rather unoriginal premise to begin with(I mean atleast Secret Wars had characters who were evil so someone killing someone was plausible). I wouldn’t trust Arcade to be able to microwave popcorn with 2 timers and a gaggle of robotic goons to help. And suddenly he’s God almighty? I mean heck I wouldn’t believe he could successfully set foot into the Avengers Academy, much less kidnap someone like X-23 PLUS all the others and get away with it. Not to mention even if it IS the real arcade with shiny new god powers, I find it hard to believe all the young heroes would sit down once he’s smacked them once or twice. Would X-23 not try to shishkabob him till she meets a grisly fate? Would Nico not try to pop his head open with a magic spell? It’s not like some of these characters haven’t faced odds that were worse before.

It also pisses me off how the Runaways are thrown in there, the series that got me back into Marvel after a 6 year hiatus from comics, and now they’re peons in a C-Listers wet dream death trap. Whats to stop Nico from simply taking the Staff of One and going “I win”, beyond Hopeless apparently wanting to watch more kids die, which even so far, has been pretty lame. Mettle exploded in one go, Red Raven hits the invisible wall and Juston may or may not of imploded with the sentinel. You get better death scenes in most What If? comics.

Ultimately there’s just nothing to make me WANT to keep reading till the end. Even if I wanted to see all these characters die, the ending scenarios are going to be A) It was real and the characters that we spent time getting to like and who finally were finding their place in the pantheon are dead(and I can kiss my Runaways series goodbye, good luck coming out of hiatus with Nico and Chase dead). And in Marvel death is alot more permanent when you’re to young to file your own taxes. Or B) It was all some VR nightmare, Arcade loses again and maybe one or two characters will reference this trauma in a later storyline. The characters I like in here, I don’t wish to see slain, or get killed because they refuse to kill or let someone die. And supporting this book sends Marvel the wrong message – I’d rather it were cancelled quickly and the talented creative team reassigned. I’ll go back to reading Song of Ice and Fire till this thing passes on, then see if I want to come back to Marvel once it’s done.

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