Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Avengers Arena, Volume 2: Game On Review (Dennis Hopeless, Kev Walker)


The casts of Avengers Academy and Runaways are still in Murderworld, an intricate closed environment filled with deathtraps created by the villain Arcade, and the last man standing deathmatch a la Battle Royale/Hunger Games continues. Some characters died in the first volume, some more die in the second, and probably a few more will die in the third. Dialogue is spoken in between fight scenes. It is a non-comical comic. My edition was printed on paper.
The first volume didn’t blow me away but I didn’t hate it as much as a number of readers did. Yes it’s derivative and totally unoriginal but I hoped it would keep going further, becoming trashier as the series went on. Alas, it hasn’t and now I join the ranks of readers who despise this series. The problem is that it’s trying to seem like a real series with real characters and, because it’s not accomplishing this, it’s become a real bore to read.
One of the biggest obstacles this series has is how unknown most of these characters are going to be for anyone who hasn’t read Avengers Academy/Runaways (like me!). We get Apex’s backstory and I can only say: was laughter the desired response? I don’t know who Chase is but every time he transforms into a lamer version of Iron Man – Darkhawk! – it’s a big deal, and I don’t get why. Dennis Hopeless is trying to make you care about characters you don’t know who’re given the barest of background information in a story about them all dying – it’s not an approach that works or should’ve even been attempted.


I suppose if you’re an Avengers Academy/Runaways fan already then this obstacle doesn’t exist for you, but those titles were both very low-selling comics for Marvel so I can only imagine that the majority of readers picking this up aren’t going to know who’s who and why we should care about their deaths.
There are some fights but unfortunately not enough death. The one series where Marvel could deliver more on their superhero fights than just boring stalemates and they flub it! Even when a certain character does bite it, they come back to life later on! Meanwhile, the ones that do die have been minor blips in the series so far so I barely noticed they’d gone when they had. And when they’re not fighting ineffectively, they’re bumming around on the beach! Is the subtitle, “Game On”, referring to a game of friendly volleyball or something?
I liked the opening issue explaining how and why Arcade came to create Murderworld. He’s definitely gone up in my estimation as a more interesting character because of this series and I wish he’d play a bigger part in the book given that the alternatives are so dreary. But one good issue out of six ain’t enough to recommend this book. It’s definitely not shaping up to be a must-read comic.
Avengers Arena Volume 2 sacrifices the potential craziness and fun of the silly concept to deliver a maudlin, lo-fi, and very dull book. It’s a disappointing addition to a series that could’ve been much more enjoyable if it had been handled a different way. Maybe it’ll mean more to Avengers Academy/Runaways fans but to everyone who’s not, the story is unlikely to make you care about these characters nor make you want to rush out and pick up those other books.
Ho hum, I guess I’ll go read the third volume for completion more than anything…

Avengers Arena Volume 2: Game On

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