Hopeless. Heartless. Careless?

[Note: while an argument could be made this belongs more in the Avengers Arena section, my argument deals in part with the entire Marvel Universe, hence Gen. Discussion]

When I first started out here on Comic Vine, furiously raging against Avengers Arena, I was careful about one thing in particular: judging Dennis Hopeless' skills as a writer. As many legitimate charges as I believed (and have not been given reason to disbelieve) I have against Hopeless, poor writing chops weren't among them. But as time has gone by, I am beginning to change my opinion on that as well. Because a growing list of concerns mounts before me, some of which have been explained away by theories, but others of which are glaring and, unless Hopeless is the greatest writer ever hired, seemingly impossible to reconcile with any amount of plot twisting.

So yes, without having actually read most of Hopeless' words, I'm going to critique his writing. Which I can do, because I'm not critiquing his lines, but what's found between them.

First, though, I want to point out a basic objection I have begun to form based on the numerous reviews I have been reading (seriously, I read every one I can find), and that is the fact that so often Arena is praised for introducing and explaining the characters, taking issue after issue for what mostly amounts to exposition.

Here's the problem. What other book are you reading, comprised of established characters with years of history, which takes its first half-dozen issues to catch you up on those characters and their abilities? Which X-Men book focuses on one X-Man per issue for months while progressing its actual plot at a snail's pace, so that just in case you don't know anything about, say, Magik or Psylocke, you'll have enough to go off of going forward that would not otherwise have been made obvious through brief exchanges and the character's own behavior as the story organically progressed?

The only reason you'd feel compelled to spend so much time explaining known characters' back stories is if you took as a basic assumption going into the book that the majority of the people who would read and follow it do not know the characters. In other words, you write under the assumption that people who like what you're writing are not current fans of the characters; that, in fact, the extant fans of these characters will be the minority of your readership. Were the reverse true, you would hardly need to tell them who these characters are.

And that's not just me, either. Just today I read a fan of the book, among a list of defenses, actually praise Hopeless for how "he's slowly telling you who these people are." Hopeless is slowly introducing the characters. As if no one knows or cares about them already. As if most of the people reading the book need to be told who they are because they don't know or care. As if the whole book is written under the assumption that its audience will not consist of actual extant fans of the characters. As if it didn't even try to respect or attract or cater to those people or assume they'd be part of the readership. As if it took for granted that fans of the characters being used in this book would be against it from the start, and the remainder of the readership would need catching up.

It's telling that I frequently see fans of Avengers Arena who can't tell which characters are brand new and which ones have been around for years. One might credit that to Hopeless' skill with making new characters seem rich, but I see it more as his failure to respectfully grapple with the actual depth that the older characters have been gifted with over the years, and which the readers he's not counting on to support his book learned to love those characters for.

The nifty benefit of assuming no one who knows better is watching? Not having to actually stick to the characters' histories. Now it's one thing to write a character a bit differently, sure. But when you're not relying on fans to call you out, you can do a great many things which you'd never get away with in a book targeted towards people who actually care. Things such as:

  • Splattering the blood and gore of a bloodless character across the first issue. (Mettle)
  • Making an angsty, troubled teen read as a heartless and hate-filled douchebag (Hazmat -- seriously, so many people just considered her a jerk)
  • Disabling one of the most powerful artifacts in the entire universe because its actual powers would be inconvenient to your story. (Staff of One)
  • Equipping multiple characters with outdated versions of their equipment and expecting neither your readers nor the characters themselves to notice or comment. (Nico/Chase - Staff of One & Fistigons)
  • Writing a complicated character in a way far more in keeping with the misconceptions of people who do not like her: feral & prone to violent outbursts (X-23)
  • Allowing a copy of your book to go to press with said character's signature two claws increased by one, even if it was only in one panel and even if you corrected it for digital versions. (X-23)
  • Handling a cosmic, somewhat sentient amulet as if it were a mere product off Stark Industries' product line. (Darkhawk Amulet)

My initial complaints about Hopeless and this book were based on the premise that a person who cared about these characters would not take so much pleasure in repeatedly informing interviewers that they were going to die. That was a major focal point of pretty much all of the PR early on -- "did I mention people die?" I cited earlier indications that Hopeless had ambivalence, if not outright disdain, towards fans concerned about what he was doing.

And now it seems, based on the actual writing, that he really doesn't know or care about these characters. He's said he hand-picked the kids, but he seems to have picked them not for their stories or selves but for the interesting ways their powers might factor into various conflicts in the book, as if the powers were the characters themselves. X-23's not just a violent and emotionless killing machine with healing factor and claws? Eh, close enough. Nico has used different staffs, and they're supposed to be kind of all-powerful? Eh, close enough. Mettle's body has no flesh or blood in it? Eh, close enough.

I began by having a problem with what Hopeless was doing. Four issues in, I have plenty of problems with how he's doing it, too. Add this to the large plot holes which are ostensibly supposed to be covered in issue 7 (but who knows), and you have a less than sunny picture.

The thing is, while faulty tech can be explained by the old "all just a simulation" story, the characters' failing to notice honestly can't. That's the first major writing conundrum I have (beyond disregard for canon, which in my mind is the very definition of bad writing when you're working for a publisher). To have done it in the first place is sloppy -- but to be unable to cover for it is even worse. I've yet to hear a decent explanation of the characters' own obliviousness to their inconsistencies, which suggests that they are the product of ignorant writing rather than of clever authorial manipulation.

Nevertheless, folks continue coming back to the virtual reality theory, which begs the question: how?

Is it Arcade who has hooked these kids into some very complicated simulation? Okay then, let's look at The Rather Gaping Hole(s) That Will Need To Be Filled... which I raised awhile back. How did Arcade get these kids? We're told that may be explained. We're told the kidnappings happened on Christmas, when they'd have been in less secure environments (though one wonders what Darkhawk's story is, considering his amulet's abilities).

Lest anyone try to answer that question and think they've undone my whole argument, the more important follow-up is and then what? Why has no one noticed or done anything since then? Pym had kids stolen from his school. Wolverine's got an AWOL daughter. Abigail Brand literally had Cammi stolen from in front of her mid-conversation. And yet these characters exist elsewhere, in books beyond Arena's pages, in a universe whose continuity is contingent enough that a writer like Marjorie Liu can't touch them because they are officially off-limits in Murderworld. As far as Marvel is concerned, these kids are somewhere they don't want to be. And yet no one notices. Pym, Logan, Brand, not to mention the larger worlds of Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., & S.W.O.R.D., wherever they appear in other books, do not seem to have noticed anything at all. Nevermind that they're also not shown caring within the book that had the kids taken from them.

Yeah, sure, seeming impossibilities between books happen all the time in comics. But it's one thing to question how Wolverine can be on X-Force while with the X-Men while with his own school. It's another thing to say Wolverine is definitively only in one place, has been taken by a specific villain from, say, right in front of Thor, and then neither Thor nor anyone else says anything about it again for weeks to any of the characters in any of the various books in which he appears. You just can't do that. It's beyond convenient. It's making an absolute impossibility happen "because I said so." It's saying "for the next week anyone can pick up Mjolnir, because it'd be more fun if stuff could just happen the way I say it happens and don't bother me about the details because that's not the point of the story i'm trying to tell" (which is basically what Hopeless has said when asked about why other people aren't noticing -- that he doesn't want to focus on it because that would make telling his story not work so well).

It's one thing to say "that's not my focus," but it's another thing to ignore the fissures in a major supporting pillar of your story. If we can't have reasonably explained to us how Arcade managed to capture kids and get them to a place where no one in the world -- no government, no mutant tech, no tracker, no anyone -- can find them, and if we aren't going to be shown said government, mutants, heroes, etc. flipping the heck out because of this insane turn of events and show of heretofore unknown power -- then why on earth should we accept anything else about this book? Why should we accept that deaths -- physical or psychological -- are happening to characters who never stood a chance in terms of canon or logic?

It's not just that Arcade's powers are too strong to be real. It's that even if what he is doing within Murderworld is an illusion, his kidnapping of the kids isn't. He still has that ability. He's still hidden them miraculously. And there's still no one in the Marvel Universe who seems to care or notice.

So some people, of course, say that Arcade, too, is part of the illusion (though of course Hopeless has already said that Arcade is Arcade). Granted, there's still no good substitute (Pym, for example, would never dream of putting kids through something like this), and even if there were you again have the question of why no one in the universe cares. Despite the fact that the events of Avengers Arena look to be real, permanent, and canon, they all exist within a vacuum which the rest of Marvel ignores. As if, should, say, X-23 die, Wolverine will never notice. And if he does notice eventually, what's the explanation for him not noticing earlier? Other than, of course, because Hopeless would consider that inconvenient to his plot.

Of course, beyond all that, there's the minor question of what's really gained by the virtual reality conceit. For the characters, sure, it makes sense for them to think everything's real. But the readers? What does tricking them really accomplish? It adds an element of theoretical danger (even as more people convince themselves that this can't be real), but is that really what's driving the book? If we presume that the character development is real even if the bodies at risk are not, then the things keeping people interested are still intact even if we know from page one that this is actually a game. Mettle's death can be construed as interesting as a motivator to Hazmat and as a warning to the other characters -- not simply because Mettle died. If we knew he wasn't really dead, that wouldn't take away the interesting part of it.

Meanwhile, you have people who are refusing to buy this book but, if we knew for sure that the kids weren't actually in danger, would happily pick it up, because this could be interesting to see play out. It could lead to great character development. And it could introduce new characters which could emerge quite popular enough to stick around in other titles.

But the only character development this book seems keen on making is the sort which is, again, close enough -- enough to give clueless readers an idea of who these kids are and why they should care about them. Just enough connection so that readers feel something when the kids they never used to care about end up dead. Readers' ignorance of characters is a foregone conclusion, and folks who meet that criteria feel justified in saying to people like me "hey, he's writing these characters well, you should stop complaining." He's writing them well enough. Enough to keep you interested. But not enough to actually do them or any deaths justice outside the context of his own needs. Again, this book is a vacuum. By ignoring the implications of Arcade's actions on the contingent universe, Hopeless ensures that nothing that happens within Arena CAN have any implications on the contingent universe. The deaths, rather than being personal, meaningful, and respectable (and rather than doing any sort of justice to the legacy of the character and the dedication of the readers), are instead lumped together in such a fashion that the only impact they are capable of having is a sum horror when the world realizes that Arcade is around and means business.

Maybe I put that confusingly? The point is the individual deaths are stripped of meaning by happening in a contained and quarantined (both literally, and literarily) environment, which will only infringe on the external world after it's too late to change things, so the impact will be of the amalgamated death toll rather than of any one character's loss. You're not going to see a funeral for each individual kid. You're going to get a mass grave.

I've said it so many times that I've gotten sick of hearing myself, but for a person like me, the quality of the dialogue or the intrigue of the plot mean absolutely nothing. They have no bearing on my feelings about the book. Because the best writing in the world doesn't justify these deaths in the scheme of it all. No clever little tale can justify dovetailing years of character development and growth into a handful of unmarked graves. A hero's death, if it must happen, should speak volumes either about the magnitude of the event in which she dies, or about the legacy of the character himself. Yet death in Arena is impersonal and trivial; no matter how well-told, it serves no one's purposes but Arcade's.

Take away the death, and I'm sold. I'll go pick up every issue. I'll revel in the dialogue and marvel at the art. But until then, I want it to be crystal clear: I'm not boycotting Avengers Arena because I think it's "just about killing." I'm boycotting it because, no matter what else it may be about, killing is an inextricable part. Add to that the fact that the killing is being done by someone who shouldn't be capable, and it's being done to characters he shouldn't have been able to capture, and all the while no one who should be noticing and reacting to these things is doing anything of the kind, and, yeah, I have bones to pick with this book. A whole skeleton's worth.

[EDIT: Addendum Tuesday, March 15, ~ 5:00 p.m.]

I didn't know quite where to share this (and given a new, ostensibly "shocking" issue tomorrow, I didn't want to do a whole new blog with the potential for another one less than 24 hours away), so it's gonna go here.

So, one of the free issues I snagged from that Marvel FIRST giveaway was AA #1, because I'm okay with sending the message "I'm interested, but I'm not going to pay for this." Honestly I'm not sure how they plan to use the information on what people download -- whether they'll try to adapt it into further business plans, or whether the hope was simply to get people hooked on runs which they will then pay to follow. That's besides the point.

The point is, I finally actually read an issue and (far more importantly) the letters section at the end (I now wish I could find scans of just the letters sections, honestly).

And...well honestly, I just don't see the virtual reality argument. I see why people want it. I even sort of got that vibe from the suspended animation/life bar thing (though the latter has been claimed by Hopeless to literally have just been an aesthetic decision, not part of the plot).

Now, my latest point still stands; it's all well and good for Hopeless to have Arcade say "You're completely cut off. Nobody is coming to get you. Trust me, they wouldn't know where to look." But I want an explanation, because there are some incredibly sophisticated tracking technologies and mutations which cannot, in the interest of good writing, actually be ignored. His whole "self-contained. self-contained. self-contained." bit -- because "this concept only works if there's no way out" -- is only as good as he can defend how they ended up in a self-contained trap. So long as that remains unexplained, it will continue to infuriate me.

But to the letters.

Rosemann's introduction to the letters begins with "So that was pretty intense, huh? I mean, just when Hazmat and Mettle have a taste of a happy life it's all ripped away." And suddenly, any optimism I may have had is just gone. Absolutely gone. It's funny because for some reason there are people who, months later, still have optimism -- but I'd have lost it from day one with that intro. It's a blatant admission of precisely why fans would be upset. This book came just one month after the conclusion of Academy. Many readers of Academy were sold this issue thinking of it as a spiritual successor -- retailers even treated it as if it were the same book, and just pulled the first issue for all their Academy subscribers. And immediately these fans saw the optimistic trajectory of the book they'd been following crash and burn in a bloody smear. The editor's comment on that? "Wow. So intense!"

Of course, Hopeless really has nothing to offer to help. Two pages from Mettle's gory end, in response to a letter in which the writer says "Don't you dare to do something to Mettle and Hazmat," Hopeless' answer is "So, um...sorry about Mettle. He died a hero's death and will be missed by all of his fans, me among them."

As I've said earlier, the thing I find truly scary about this book is the fact that Hopeless may actually believe he's justified in what he is doing. To him, the sacrificial nature of Mettle's death was fittingly respectful. It was, to Hopeless, satisfactory. And yet few of the "other" (as he counts himself among them) Mettle fans I've seen have agreed with that assessment. Most are like me: they see it as fridging, shock value to establish high stakes, maybe to motivate Hazmat (but again, that's textbook fridging). So either Hopeless is callous and doesn't care at all about characters, or he's genuinely convinced that what he did to Mettle was okay. And that's what makes the prospect of other characters being at his disposal all the more terrifying. Writing him off as a heartless tool is a lot easier than seeing him as a well-meaning but horrifically misguided storyteller. But these letters, and particularly that one, have me thinking it's more of the latter.

Anyhow, the only other real note I have is that Hopeless' comment that "This is a character-driven story" really only holds water if the characters don't die. No amount of development is worth a thing if it simply dovetails in a death. People who have contradicted my interpretations in the past, should take note of what I said, and what Hopeless said. What I said, having not read the letters:

But the only character development this book seems keen on making is the sort which is, again, close enough -- enough to give clueless readers an idea of who these kids are and why they should care about them. Just enough connection so that readers feel something when the kids they never used to care about end up dead.

And now, what Hopeless wrote before Issue 1 even hit presses:

...A lot of people question why AA is an ongoing series and not a mini. Here's why: For this book to succeed, we have to earn the concept. We have to make you love the characters even if you never read a page of their previous series. We need you to care how it all turns out and to feel each and every death. In order to get there, we need space...

So...who wants to tell me I'm wrong again?

97 Comments
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Avatar image for inverno
Posted By Inverno

This has been quite a interesting read, even though the subject doesn't appeal to me. I didn't quite like the Hunger Games, so I had zero interest this series at all. Nice work :)

Avatar image for rumble_man
Posted By Rumble Man

Marvel is just whoring out to pop culture and bending over due to idea deficit

case in point; vampire x-men and jubilee suddenly getting a bigger rack for no apparent reason

smh

Avatar image for stumpy49er
Posted By stumpy49er

@akbobert: Yes, I read your entire post. Doesn't change the fact that I enjoy the series. And yes, there are characters that I don't want to die in the series but I'm willing to read it because I think it's a good comic. In your original post you complain about things that have yet to be explained in the comic itself. Hopeless has yet to reveal where they are or how Arcade got these powers. I think he's given these characters plenty of character development within an entertaining story. That's the point of comics right? To be entertaining! Everyone complains about Mettles death, yet he sacrificed himself for someone he loves. That's a great death. Poor Red Raven dies like a bird hitting a windshield and no one says mum about it. Sheesh. Love Battle royal, love Hunger Games and so far I'm loving Avengers Arena.

Avatar image for daycrawler
Posted By Daycrawler

@akbogert said:

@Daycrawler: I'm not questioning Hopeless' objective abilities as a writer. I'm questioning his skill as a writer for a major publisher.

Writing stories that use other people's characters in a world that many other writers are also working in is a very unique style of publication. It has a ton of strings attached to it. But that's the nature of the beast. You don't get to just tell whatever story you want. That may be great fan fiction, but that's not great publisher comic writing. So for every misunderstood power or backstory or personality, his credibility as a good Marvel writer takes a hit. The fact that there are more problems than issues -- that there is at least one problem per issue -- says something to me. It may not say the same thing, or as loudly, to you, but evidently I'm not the only one who's getting the bad vibes.

I don't view myself so much jumping the gun as saying "Hey, I've worked out all these angles and haven't found a satisfactory way of pulling this off that won't be crap. Can anyone help me here?" And I even said it's possible that Hopeless is secretly the most brilliant writer ever and he's got a great explanation no one will predict. I just don't expect that to happen.

One thing that bothers me, and makes these "little problems" bigger, is that Hopeless has gone on record saying he hand-selected the characters. Initially this suggested an intimacy with them, that he was a fan of them, that he wanted to see them used in a new book the way most fans would. But the writing denies that possibility. A "true fan" would not have made these mistakes, or so many of them, in so few issues. So either he was serious about being a fan and his definition of fanhood is just wildly different from that of most people, or else when he said he "hand-picked" them he was, as I suggested in OP, picking them more for basic powers and one-line personality descriptions than for their actual histories.

Hey man. Still feeling crappy, so I'll be keeping it short and hopefully sensible (bit fuzzy-headed).

I get where you're coming from, but I've honestly not noticed that many mistakes personally and the characterisations have been fine in my opinion, as previously stated re: X-23. Chase and Nico's characterisations were fine and I can give Hazmat a free pass on any changes due to trauma. Things I have noticed have all been pictorially-based and therefor may or may not be Hopless's fault as they could just as easily have been the artist at fault and it was beyond Hopless's control. So, for me, it would be to unfair to lay blame on Hopless's shoulders. Coulda been an artistic / editorial failure and I've seen that happen enough times. May be missing stuff that you're picking up on as I'm not a hard-core fan of any of these characters (tho I do have a soft spot for the Runaways & Laura). Also, being as deeply invested in characters like the Academy kids as you are, I can see how minor issues accumulate to bug you but not me.

As to your other post, previous to the one quoted above, I still reckon the best way to judge something is to view it yourself. Second hand information can lead to mistakes in analysis. Like a whole Chinese whispers thing going on. I've seen so many posts and reviews (by professionals and fans alike) that have been inaccurate, misleading or so strongly biased that the review becomes an imbalanced piece. Some recent CBR reviews have been so riddle with inaccuracies I've been left wondering if the reviewer has actually read the book (talking about non Avengers Arena reviews here).

Using posts/reviews and some scans as evidence is never going to give you the whole picture. Don't get me wrong though, I've also read posts / reviews that have opened up areas of the story I'd not thought of before and enhanced things, or pointed out actual failings I'd missed. The point is though, in both circumstances I'd read the source material so was starting my analysis from a solid base. I just feel that by not reading the series but using scans and other peoples review your building your already biased opinions on a false foundation. Personal experience has taught me that when something controversial comes out it's usually the people who don't like it that post the most comments/reviews/etc. Therefore there is a real danger when mainly using this as evidence that your evidence is skewed.

Perhaps you could borrow the issues or trade when it comes out and have a read through. Wouldn't do any harm. You may end up having your opinions confirmed, or even strengthed, but at least you'd be able to say so unequivocally.

Anyways, I hope that the series progresses to a place where you genuinely feel less aggrieved about what's happening to your favourite characters. I really do feel that Hopeless is genuine about developing characters and the murder island/contest is a backdrop to really explore them and put then through their paces, I can honestly see him returning to Hazmat in future issues and softening her character (in comparison to the first few issues) and really delving into her psyche. The draw to this series for me is the drama and character development not killing and gore. To me, the threat of death adds an extra dimension of tension and drama, much like Uncanny X-force.

Avatar image for akbogert
Posted By akbogert

@stumpy49er said:

@akbobert: Yes, I read your entire post. Doesn't change the fact that I enjoy the series. And yes, there are characters that I don't want to die in the series but I'm willing to read it because I think it's a good comic. In your original post you complain about things that have yet to be explained in the comic itself. Hopeless has yet to reveal where they are or how Arcade got these powers. I think he's given these characters plenty of character development within an entertaining story. That's the point of comics right? To be entertaining! Everyone complains about Mettles death, yet he sacrificed himself for someone he loves. That's a great death. Poor Red Raven dies like a bird hitting a windshield and no one says mum about it. Sheesh. Love Battle royal, love Hunger Games and so far I'm loving Avengers Arena.

Alright, just making sure, because I write a lot and frankly a lot of people don't read. As I said earlier, I'm just pointing out what I see as flaws and have been unable to predict a satisfying explanation for. I know an explanation is coming, but I am just speculating that it will be difficult for that explanation to truly deal with all angles of the situation. And the purpose of doing so publicly is so that people like you can step in and offer ways of thinking about it that may not have crossed my mind. Sure, I hate the book, but I hate it because I'm afraid of what it might do, so any evidence I can get which puts those fears to rest is, strange as it may seem, welcome. I'd rather look like an idiot than have characters I love die pointlessly. If I'm right, they die pointlessly. If I'm wrong, they live or their deaths are a lot more meaningful than I anticipated.

Different folks are entertained by different things. I can take no pleasure in watching a character I care about being tormented or put under extreme duress. And most of these kids have very troubled pasts. Several are orphans who played a role in the death of their own parents. Laura has had no shortage of horrible situations in her life. So while sure, there are some characters who need a little real risk to make them interesting, I don't think these kids fit the bill. I don't consider it entertaining. I understand some people do. I'm upset that most of the people who do don't care about the characters -- and that many of the people who care about the characters are, like me, unable to find entertainment here.

Red Raven appeared in exactly 7 issues prior to Avengers Arena. While I still think that was a ludicrous way to kill a character, and that proving those boundaries could have been done far more tactfully, I don't think there is actually any person who was invested in her. I'm not saying you have to be around for a long time for people to care about you, but if anyone could have died without anyone caring, it's probably her. I think the people who got upset got upset not because they wouldn't be seeing her around anymore, but because it's stupid to kill a character by having them fly into an invisible wall. I'd argue that's one for the "bad writing" category as well. As for Mettle, it's not the way he died that's stupid. It's the fact that the threat to someone he loved was stupid. The fact that someone needed to die.

@Daycrawler said:

Hey man. Still feeling crappy, so I'll be keeping it short and hopefully sensible (bit fuzzy-headed).

I get where you're coming from, but I've honestly not noticed that many mistakes personally and the characterisations have been fine in my opinion, as previously stated re: X-23. Chase and Nico's characterisations were fine and I can give Hazmat a free pass on any changes due to trauma. Things I have noticed have all been pictorially-based and therefor may or may not be Hopless's fault as they could just as easily have been the artist at fault and it was beyond Hopless's control. So, for me, it would be to unfair to lay blame on Hopless's shoulders. Coulda been an artistic / editorial failure and I've seen that happen enough times. May be missing stuff that you're picking up on as I'm not a hard-core fan of any of these characters (tho I do have a soft spot for the Runaways & Laura). Also, being as deeply invested in characters like the Academy kids as you are, I can see how minor issues accumulate to bug you but not me.

As to your other post, previous to the one quoted above, I still reckon the best way to judge something is to view it yourself. Second hand information can lead to mistakes in analysis. Like a whole Chinese whispers thing going on. I've seen so many posts and reviews (by professionals and fans alike) that have been inaccurate, misleading or so strongly biased that the review becomes an imbalanced piece. Some recent CBR reviews have been so riddle with inaccuracies I've been left wondering if the reviewer has actually read the book (talking about non Avengers Arena reviews here).

Using posts/reviews and some scans as evidence is never going to give you the whole picture. Don't get me wrong though, I've also read posts / reviews that have opened up areas of the story I'd not thought of before and enhanced things, or pointed out actual failings I'd missed. The point is though, in both circumstances I'd read the source material so was starting my analysis from a solid base. I just feel that by not reading the series but using scans and other peoples review your building your already biased opinions on a false foundation. Personal experience has taught me that when something controversial comes out it's usually the people who don't like it that post the most comments/reviews/etc. Therefore there is a real danger when mainly using this as evidence that your evidence is skewed.

Perhaps you could borrow the issues or trade when it comes out and have a read through. Wouldn't do any harm. You may end up having your opinions confirmed, or even strengthed, but at least you'd be able to say so unequivocally.

Anyways, I hope that the series progresses to a place where you genuinely feel less aggrieved about what's happening to your favourite characters. I really do feel that Hopeless is genuine about developing characters and the murder island/contest is a backdrop to really explore them and put then through their paces, I can honestly see him returning to Hazmat in future issues and softening her character (in comparison to the first few issues) and really delving into her psyche. The draw to this series for me is the drama and character development not killing and gore. To me, the threat of death adds an extra dimension of tension and drama, much like Uncanny X-force.

I'm beginning to come around to the "blame the artist" perspective for some of the things. Granted, they should have been rectified by now -- so that's more editorial than anyone else -- but I'll accept that at least some of those complaints should not rightly be aimed at Hopeless. As for the minor issues accumulating, I think it's more the fact that a book like this should have realized it was walking on eggshells and been more cautious than usual. The book was being targeted even before the first issue came out as a middle finger to fans. If Hopeless and team are earnestly trying to do these characters and their fans justice, then they should be a lot kinder and more genuine in the way they talk to fans, respond to criticism, and, yeah, do everything in their power to avoid even small mistakes like that. These are high stakes -- it'd be nice if it felt like the creators cared about that as much as the fans do. (And honestly, seeing Hopeless talk on social media...he really just comes across as a tool. Maybe not? But as someone who wants to be reassured that my favorite character isn't in the hands of a sadist, I've not been getting the friendly vibes from him at all -- like I said, he seemed to be reveling in the death aspect in all the interviews that came out within a month of the series' launch).

It comes down to a moral issue as far as the following the book thing goes. I just can't justify paying to support something I hate. It's like blood money. If you find yourself really interested in my views on the series, the first thing I ever wrote about it is here. Briefly touching this subject, I said "It’d be rather foolhardy to pay for the opportunity to protest something (and of course that’s the sort of protest that’s always welcomed)." At the end of the day, if I say with my words "I hate this" but my actions say "I'm paying you for it," then my words become pointless. If someone were to offer me the digital codes, or if I got my hands on a free issue, sure, I'd read it.

Meanwhile, my boycott goes on in the hopes that the book -- whether it was going to get good or not -- just goes away. Eventually it will be clear to everyone that that either is or isn't going to happen. And eventually, yes, answers will come, either in the form of "boy, you got pissed over a whole lot of nothing," or "well, you were right, and there's nothing you can do about it." In the former case, I plan to buy the book. Because if Laura lives, if I can appreciate what Hopeless did, I'll write the nicest, most apologetic letter of my life to him and Marvel. In the latter, I do just what I always said I'd do -- walk away, and never look back. Walking away also means dropping other Marvel books I'm enjoying. And walking away means characters I love are dead, at least for the time being. So I don't want to walk away. I want this to become good. I just don't expect it to, especially looking at Marvel's recent history, and so until I see signs that my mistrust is misplaced, I'll continue trying to convince people to stop buying the book because it's taking a toll on me and other fans -- playing the empathy card, as you will. Many people will just continue reading and enjoying the book. But for every person who tells me "you know what, you convinced me, I'm going to drop this," I feel like all this writing is worth it. I'm truly sorry if Hopeless really was genuine and had good things planned, if a lot of interesting character development (which would have continued into other books) is precluded because the book loses its readership. But I put that on him and the whole marketing team that screamed "people die, people die, people die" to get people interested. If this wasn't meant to make me angry, they shouldn't have done such a good job of provoking rage, you know?

But yes, aside from all the vitriol, I'd love to be wrong. I'm just waiting to have my wrongness proven. And for every incorrect judgment I make because I'm relying on secondhand knowledge for my position, there's someone like you to contradict me and change my mind. Maybe that happens enough times that my position really does shift? Time will tell.

Again, get well soon!

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Edited By cameron83

@akbogert:

So this is your rant on the book...well,you never know man.I mean,sure people make mistakes here and there,and maybe frequently,but maybe the story gets better.It's common for stories to start off weak.And again,they will have their flaws....but I really hope that characters aren't really senselessly dying in a way that's contradictory to their nature.If so,then that's bad writing (imo).HOWEVER,maybe this is touched up upon later in the story.When the last issue of this arc comes out,then I will judge.Until then,I personally can't really say anything until I've seen the whole story.But that was a great,well-thought rant,dude.HOPEFULLY,the story will get better.

coughgo X-23cough

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Posted By akbogert

@cameron83 said:

@akbogert:

So this is your rant on the book...well,you never know man.I mean,sure people make mistakes here and there,and maybe frequently,but maybe the story gets better.It's common for stories to start off weak.And again,they will have their flaws....but I really hope that characters aren't really senselessly dying in a way that's contradictory to their nature.If so,then that's bad writing (imo).HOWEVER,maybe this is touched up upon later in the story.When the last issue of this arc comes out,then I will judge.Until then,I personally can't really say anything until I've seen the whole story.But that was a great,well-thought rant,dude.HOPEFULLY,the story will get better.

coughgo X-23cough

Heheh. I need Laura to live. I just hope she doesn't have to turn into a monster to do so -- because that'd kind of undermine her whole life's worth of development.

And thank you. I think "HOPEFULLY" (pun?) "the story will get better" pretty much sums up everyone's wishes, even the people currently following it. It's no fun hating something.

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Posted By stumpy49er

@akbogert: While we may not agree on wether it's good or not, I will say I do sympathise with you. I hate it when characters I love die. Especially if it's in a book I don't care for (in this case a book you don't care for). I understand the frustration. I do think Hopeless will try his best to be respectful of peoples feelings but at the same time he's going to write the story he wants to tell. Likely there won't be many survivors. We won't know till it's over. I can also say that as someone who didn't read Avengers Academy, this title has gotten me interested in picking up some of the trades, so I can get a little more backstory. He's already got me caring a lot about Cammy, a girl I didn't know anything about until I started reading this title. Right now my top list of people I want to live are: Darkhawk(?), Nico, Chase, X-23 and Cammy. Among a few others. I actually wanted to know more about Red Raven too because she looked so cool. Alas poor Red Raven. :(

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Posted By akbogert

@stumpy49er: Aye, her death will go down as one of the lamest ever. Though perhaps it's best that she existed for so short a time. I recently ran across a character in DCU called Artemis Crock, who I immediately wanted to know more about; found out she'd been killed a year ago in -- I kid you not -- an event called "The Culling" in which teen heroes were forced to fight one another. She seems to have been the only death, and the kids quickly overcame their captor by teaming up. But what a loss.

I'm still devoted to reading all the X-23 stuff (other than this) I can find, which means I know New X-Men and Avengers Academy are on my list, among things. I own all of Runaways, and am about halfway through that. From the little I've seen of Cammi she seems cool, and everyone who knows about Darkhawk says he is (or was?) awesome. Heck, even the Braddock Academy kids Hopeless created sound like they'd be worth seeing continued, and Deathlockett has a ton of fans. There are none of these characters I can look at and say "yeah, may as well kill him/her." My list is only structured as it is because of my personal experience, but I've yet to read one of these characters and decide I'm fine with them dying.

Hopeless' behavior has been less than respectful, in my experience (I linked to my first ever writing on the subject in my response to another poster below my response to you, wherein I discuss Hopeless' attitude more directly). Maybe I've just read more into it than I should have because I perceived him as threatening? But just his whole attitude has rubbed me the wrong way from the start.

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Edited By stumpy49er

Yeah, I caught that you wrote about Hopeless being disrespectful right after I'd posted that last one. Haven't seen any video's of him talking. I just thought he seemed respectful in his responses to fans in the letters column. You seem to have done more research on the subject than me. That's funny what you said about the "Culling". So DC tried the same thing (sort of) not long ago? Jeez, not much originality in the world. At least Avengers Academy completely acknowledges it's own lack of originality and even does homages in it's covers. I personally like that anyway. As for my love of Darkhawk, he was in one of the first comics I'd ever read when I was about 10. Amazing Spiderman Round Robin: The Sidekicks Revenge. Back in the day (90's). I'm actualy rooting more for Nico and your girl X-23 now though, just because.. you know.. they're girls.

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Posted By akbogert

@stumpy49er: Aye, the Culling thing would be funny if it weren't so sad. And I've not seen/heard him either, actually. I just read a lot of interviews and checked out his twitter for a while (main reason I link that article is because I actually linked/quoted the things he said which I found disrespectful/alarming). I think if you're going to cash in on the success of an already-done concept, at least acknowledging it is good. The homage covers, taken separately from whatever's happening in the actual books, are just fantastic; no argument there. As for X-23, I defy anyone to read X-23: Innocence Lost and still want her to die. I'd also encourage a person who can do so to never speak with me ^_^

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Edited By lykopis

@Yai_Inn:

Read through your post - just wanted to point out that Arcade's drastic change has been commented on - at least in this blog. I am a little confused that you bring up Arcade as an almost acceptable complaint in terms of mis-characterization but then later in your same post, call into question the OP's lack of liking the character as a fault against his criticisms of the book?

Also, bringing up similar complaints with other Marvel books doesn't negate another's. If anything, you pointed out faults with all those books, ones that fans have been also known to make noise about. So again, how is that a fault against the OP's criticism of this book?

You peppered your post with a lot of artist/editorial mishandling to explain away concerns about this book. Again, this does not negate criticisms of this book, it further supports it.

As for fringe characters -- it's subjective. There are enough characters in this series to have me feel they are not fringe but established. well favoured characters amongst fans. An opinion of which there is understandable difference in perhaps yours but one does not strike out the other.

Your point about Spiral I feel isn't relevant as her character has not been seen on panel for quite some time and if she has, it was in the background. Avengers Arena takes some characters straight from one book into this one. Their characterization changing drastically as you posit Spiral's has is far more nonsensical. I say Hazmat has been presented terribly on here. And I say this as a reader of the now ended Avengers Academy and now as a current Avengers Arena reader.

As for this book potentially being the greatest thing in terms of character development for X-23 (or just being a fantastic story about her) and missing out -- this is how comics work. They are released piece-meal and hence, the writing and art should be drawing readers in and retaining them for each issue pumped out. Especially a new one such as this in an entirely new environment -- this is comic business sense. Should it turn out like you suggest it can, then it coming out in a TPB etc would be a more than acceptable way of keeping up with the goings on of a favourite character. The OP however is going about it the practical way -- do not support a book financially if you find fault with it. Money spent (or not spent) is the language of business as it relates to the success of its products. If this book is doing badly -- it's doing badly because the story/art is bad. Bad is bad. If this was a hit out of the park, then criticism of this book should be meticulously combed over. The reverse seems to be the reality of this which is why positive reactions I find interesting and to which I pick apart. Mostly to learn.

I don't mean this to be aggressive and I apologize if it appears that way. I sincerely am posting this to you with a real intent to better understand your stance.

@Daycrawler:

Thank you so much for your reply -- I found your points intriguing despite their being different to mine.

:)

Oh, and I do hope you are feeling better. I always find February to be the worst month when it comes to feeling sick but at least we've got into March and things should be getting better based on my own experience.

@stumpy49er said:

@akbogert: While we may not agree on wether it's good or not, I will say I do sympathise with you. I hate it when characters I love die. Especially if it's in a book I don't care for (in this case a book you don't care for). I understand the frustration. I do think Hopeless will try his best to be respectful of peoples feelings but at the same time he's going to write the story he wants to tell. Likely there won't be many survivors. We won't know till it's over. I can also say that as someone who didn't read Avengers Academy, this title has gotten me interested in picking up some of the trades, so I can get a little more backstory. He's already got me caring a lot about Cammy, a girl I didn't know anything about until I started reading this title. Right now my top list of people I want to live are: Darkhawk(?), Nico, Chase, X-23 and Cammy. Among a few others. I actually wanted to know more about Red Raven too because she looked so cool. Alas poor Red Raven. :(

Thank you for pointing out Red Raven -- I really, REALLY detested her death. If anything, Mettle's death became even less meaningful since the obligatory "first one down" could have been achieved through her. (That sounds so awful, doesn't it? That one character's life is "worth" more than the other because of established relevance in a story whose whole point is about killing people for the sake of killing.)

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Posted By Hastny

@akbogert: Thanks for the tip! I'll make sure to check out that blog as well.

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Posted By Yai_Inn

@lykopis:

  1. Arcade: It's obvious the OP doesn't care about mis-characterization if he's not going to complain about Arcade. Everything that was said regarding breaking continuity was nit picking.
  2. Other books: He's criticizing the author not the book. Look at the title of the thread. If he's going to say Hopeless is a terrible writer for doing x, y and z he should also acknowledge every other writer guilty of doing x, y, z. But then this rant would be directed towards the industry and not at the writer who may or may not kill off a character who is liked.
  3. Artist/Editorial: Again, he's not criticizing the book, he's blaming Hopeless.
  4. Fringe: Agree to disagree. I feel that, with the exception of X-23, all of these characters were headed to limbo with this re-launch.
  5. Spiral: Did you read the last issue of Uncanny X-Force? Just because a character hasn't been seen for awhile, that's no excuse for writing her so incompetently.
  6. Purchasing later: It will be spoiled by then. Something I personally don't enjoy. Furthermore, my LCS offers 20% off on comics the day they're released. Following the week of their release they are dropped into $5 bins. So if this series were to last only 20 issues; @ 2.99 with 20% off it's about $47.80. Now if I get those same 20 issues later on, there $5 a piece; or $100 total. I save over $52 by following this (enough to buy another 21 comics!) Now if this series last 40 issues I save over $100.

Let's compare the OP's complaints to the latest issue of Guardians of the Galaxy (which is getting praised no less)

  1. Re-telling the backstory of the character, in the assumption that no one familiar with Peter Quill will be reading; check.
  2. Ignoring continuity and mishandling characters; check. How's about changing a guy that liked his father and couldn't give a damn about Earth into a guy who hates his father and wants to protect the Earth, complete character 180.
  3. Functioning inside a vacuum; check, why is Iron Man on their ship, an alien planet, New York City, and Wakanda all at the same time?

The only difference between Arena and GotG is that there is an actual threat level present in Arena. I know full well that no lasting harm can come to Quill, Gamora, Drax, Racoon, Groot or Iron Man in that series which appears to be what people actually want given the outcry Arena has generated. Yet when we discuss what independent comics can offer that the big two can't the most common answers are change and closure. Arena offers both; it affords the characters the opportunity to have lasting character change (if they survive or even within the series as they are pushed to their limits) while also bringing closure to characters that were likely never going to be seen again.

The threat level here is the reason to read this as a series and not a trade, because spoilers will completely ruin the thrill you can have as a reader being on the edge of your seat not knowing who might die next. Saying that these deaths are meaningless is absurd because that has yet to be seen and cannot be judged until the series has concluded and we examine the effects the deaths have on the survivors and the rest of the MU.

Saying Hopeless is a hack who can't write is disgusting. He's brought us a series that successfully delivers what independents normally triumph over Marvel/DC at. Which is actually the only complaint about this series (because the execution within the actual pages is superb) and dressing it up, with all this insignificant nit picking is childish. The OP even admits that if the death threat wasn't present he'd be reading it. Yet it is the death threat that makes this series memorable.

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Posted By akbogert

Well, you said you wouldn't be back for at least a week so I was going to take my time, but now you've got two fairly long responses here so I guess I'd better catch up. And again, I find it grimly amusing that you've been the equivalent of my nemesis since the day I joined CV.

I will say that you do seem to have come across as pretty harsh (and increasingly so). You begin not by telling me that you'd like to shed some insight on another way of looking at it, but on how I'm wrong. Nevertheless…

I'm reading Uncanny X-Force & Uncanny X-Men. Neither has provided nearly the same kind of depth about characters as Arena has. It's very clear that Arena's character-per-issue focus is unique. You can attack my impression of that, but you can't use the other NOW books for comparison. And for what it's worth, I've elsewhere conceded that such focus is probably more important than I initially thought because the likelihood of readers being familiar with all the characters is pretty low; ergo my assumption that Hopeless expects kids to know none of the characters was excessive.

Excessive, but not completely untrue. One may forgive me for the generalization on the basis that the readership does tend to be made up of non-fans, though there are outliers.

I'm not sure what your point was regarding the issues being finished prior to release, but it wouldn't have any bearing on my suggestion that pitching a book like this requires recognition that fans are going to be upset. There has been outcry from the moment this book's nature was revealed (prior to even the first issue being released). I've simply suggested that that backlash was so inevitable that it appears it was calculated into the decision to approve the book anyway -- that the chagrin of fans was deemed an acceptable collateral. I don't see how it could not have been.

As was noted earlier, the majority of these characters definitely qualify as established. I'm not going to rehash why -- we've already discussed number of appearances elsewhere in the thread. To say they don't really have a lot of depth is to belie one's one bias against them, because they have plenty of fans who could argue you to death over how untrue such a statement is.

As also seems to have been covered, I outright reject the notion that the Mettle blood thing was a mistake. Your calling out of editorial is entirely justified, though -- I just came across a character in UXM who has tattoos on her face in some frames but not in others, even on the same page; so yeah, editorial needs to get their act together. Of course, a good editor notwithstanding, the better a writer or artist, the less necessary the editor. Doesn't get editing off the hook, but still. If your main gripe is me attributing that to Hopeless, then it's true that without the script I cannot be positive of how much of a hand he had in it.

A character saying he's a god doesn't really mean anything to me, nor does it explain things. Granting Arcade a power like that (transmutation of metal to flesh) is only necessary because you're looking for an alternative to "shock value is why this happened." If Arcade could turn Mettle to flesh, he should have just done that. It would've blown people's minds, demonstrated power, and made Mettle extremely vulnerable. I think it would've been a lot more compelling narrative-wise than fridging him to motivate Hazmat.

I didn't expect to be challenged on the fact that nerfing Nico's staff is a big deal. I don't have a defense; I kinda consider that flaw self-evident, honestly. A single spell should've been sufficient, so the need to constantly bleed really isn't a thing. The staff should have worked. The fact that it didn't means Arcade's powers are ridiculously PIS, unless -- as I've accepted could be the case -- Hopeless really has a brilliant explanation.

I haven't finished Runaways, and I've avoided most spoilers, so I can't comment on the exact nature of Chase's situation. But it seems to me like if last we saw him he had a psychic tie to something, then that tie should still exist, and he should still be able to communicate with -- is it still Old Lace? I really don't want to spoil too much for myself for this conversation, so I'm just assuming there. Anyway, the point is, if the most recent version of Chase had that going for him, then getting rid of it just because that'd be convenient for the story is precisely what I'm angry about. I'd think, given your remarks about Spiral, that you'd have to agree: there's no excuse for just re-writing the way a character works.

Regarding X-23, some people are saying what you're saying, others aren't. If I read the book and agree or disagree, that doesn't change the fact that there are people who are seeing a version of her as I've presented. Aside from the fact that Arcade's acquisition of Trigger Scent is also PIS (though up against the other stuff, it's probably the most believable of the PIS), I do hope that's what happens because it's the only way, as a fan, that I could justify seeing Laura actually turn on anyone rather than sacrifice herself.

I don't think I "missed" Arcade. If anything, most of my complaints here count for him as much as for Hopeless -- or rather, I'm complaining that Hopeless' changes to Arcade are seemingly indefensible. So ironically all you're hearing is complaining about that. If Arcade were still a joke of a villain, there'd be nothing to complain about at all -- everything boils back down to the decision to make him a force to be reckoned with.

As for Spiral, I don't know her past. I am interested in the version of her being presented in the new book, but given my time with DC books (which is all New 52 stuff), I'm no stranger to people getting really angry about new versions of their favorite characters. If the current Spiral really is a massive distortion of her old self, you have my condolences.

I never said it was virtual reality, mind you. In fact, the whole paragraph prior to "folks continue coming back to the theory" established why I didn't consider that theory a fitting explanation. That nevertheless ought to have read more like "But hey, let's imagine for a moment that people are right and this is virtual reality. Let's look at the problems that presents." I've seen the conversation about the VR and I didn't read anything more into that than Hopeless toying with the theories he knows people have. That line doesn't guarantee real death anymore than it guarantees simulation; I think it's a tease and nothing more. Granted, from the beginning Hopeless has pretty much mocked people who think he's going to, as some would see it, "cop out" and let the kids live. Sure, I'd vastly prefer that, but again I have no real basis for believing it.

Like I said, this is different from characters who are impossibly in multiple places at once. This is the opposite of that. This is characters being refused existence elsewhere because where they are in this book precludes it. The fact that, say, Wolverine is popular enough that he's allowed to defy that rule, but X-23 isn't -- that's something that bugs me. I'm not saying I want to see her everywhere. But to have writers who want to write a character be told "you can't, they're being used over here" while other characters don't have that limit -- yes, it's more an argument with Marvel as a whole than anything else. That doesn't make the idea any easier to swallow, and it doesn't make Hopeless' inevitable "explanation" any more likely to convince me.

He has given Arcade a ridiculous amount of power -- forget what we've seen him do in Murderworld, I'm talking about the abductions and the hiding and the nerfing of the Staff (we'll settle with just those three things). He's just become a threat that can go toe-to-toe with every major authority -- superpowered or otherwise -- on Earth. It strikes me, again, as PIS. Hopeless has an explanation; I'm merely saying I doubt it will be good enough to match just how powerful the new Arcade is.

It hasn't been stated that every character will die; it's merely been stated that characters die. Repeatedly stated and emphasized (so again, not really expecting the virtual reality deus ex machine). I'm personally invested in X-23, and fearing for her due to the obviousness of her survival (I've talked about that elsewhere several times -- the fact that people assume she lives is the perfect reason for Hopeless to kill her).

If there's a chance that my refusal to buy can contribute to the book being cancelled before she's killed, then I'll do it. If Hopeless plans to kill her, he'll do it after a long time or he'll do it abruptly in a FINAL ISSUE!, so it's not like I'm going to get her killed with the boycott. And if she lives, and the book goes on, I'll jump on-board when I'm convinced my fears are no longer necessary.

Sadly, this is a book pitched on the basis of "real death," and which is often praised because of its "actually high stakes for once; finally Marvel's putting characters in actual danger." Buying this book tells Marvel I like seeing death as a plot-driver; it tells them I support what they're doing here. It does not tell them "I love these kids please keep them around." So I must speak with my money, and right now that means boycotting.

One thing I find intriguing, if not confusing, is that early in your response you note that Arcade is unrecognizably changed and "no one's complaining about that," but then near the end you defend his right to be developed into a credible threat. Those two things seem to conflict. Clearly, you believe that this complete alteration of the character is a good one; but people who liked Arcade before probably did so because he was silly and harmless. Sure, they may like the new one as well, but you can't take that for granted. I saw people early on who didn't care one way or the other about this book saying Arcade being made powerful like this was just silly. So the reasons for taking issue with it aren't necessarily personal; even fans of the character have been known to find this change preposterous. (I notice, now, that Lykopis also found that confusing)

Before delving into your second post (are we all even still reading here? This is a CRAZY wall of text -- good thing it doesn't also have quotes in it :P), I want to sort of sum up a point that much of what Lyko said seems to underscore: saying that other things are also bad does not actually make this good. I've already established why this book in particular bothers me so much, which explains my fixation, but the fact that many of my complaints could be carried across multiple books (Spiral in UXF, Eva in UXM, etc.) adds to their legitimacy rather than subtract from it.

Alrighty… round two (shorter, hopefully ^_^)

  1. I already established that I care a whole lot about Arcade; all the other details are merely aspects of why.
  2. Somewhat fair point. I've been convinced that I should have included others, such as Bill Rosemann, in my criticism.
  3. See above.
  4. Discussed "established" earlier in the thread, and yes, if you still think over 100 issues is un-established, we will have to just move on.
  5. As I said, your position on Spiral actually suggests you should be pissed at how Arcade is being handled. The fact that you're subjectively picking and choosing when massive rewrites are okay and when they aren't suggests that I'm equally free to take issue with what i see as unacceptable changes.
  6. You know what the ultimate "spoiler" would be? Finding out after having paid hundreds of dollars to Marvel that the book I've been supporting has just killed my favorite character. Knowing she survives, and then going back and reading after the fact, is a trade I'm more than willing to make. Your unique pricing situation legitimizes it for you, but that hardly applies to the whole readership.

For what it's worth, my criticism does have wider-reaching application, which is what makes me wonder what we're even arguing over. Is your beef the fact that I attacked just Hopeless? Would you have agreed had I written a bash on a half-dozen writers, pulling Bendis and Humphries into the mix? Heck, for all I know, had I been reading some of those characters as much as I've read Laura, maybe I would be attacking everyone with the same vitriol. But the fact that I'm not attacking other people doesn't undermine the attack I am making.

And, though this is hardly the point, mis-characterizing a character you plan to keep around is better than mis-characterizing a character and then killing her.

But based on what you're saying about Peter Quill, yeah, that's kind of impressively bad. Expect a lot more of it in the near future, if this "FIRST" thing is anything remotely like what people speculate it will be. Seems Marvel's pulling a DC in some way, if they're going to put the same name and face on characters with completely different backstories. And as a Harley Quinn fan, I can completely sympathize with hating a company for so vastly ruining something you love and then calling it by the same name.

As I've said earlier, I just don't buy that these characters needed that extreme conditioning. Most of them have lived much bleaker, darker lives than the majority of characters in the Marvel U (especially their age). They've been fighting for their lives and autonomy ever since they were created (most of them anyway). Making that literal was hardly necessary. Point is, fans of these particular characters weren't getting bored of them or desiring to see them deal with something heavy for once; in the case of Laura, I'd say I felt just the opposite. So if you want to see grit and risk and change for once, fine, but do it with characters who've had it too easy; don't take the downtrodden orphans there. It's just, well, heartless.

I never said Hopeless couldn't write. I said that writing for a major publisher is supposed to have certain strings attached, strings which make being a good writer of that sort pretty hard, and I'm upset to see those strings seemingly unattached to this particular book. I don't mind seeing characters in danger of dying. I mind seeing these ones. Not just because I like them -- because I haven't even read Avengers Academy, so I don't even know all of them -- but because who they are should have gotten them off the hook for a series this grim.

The reason independents deliver more successful writing is because they also tend to start from scratch. Same book, but without someone else's hard-born and developed characters, would've been awesome, and Hopeless would've been subject to none of this scrutiny (except, maybe, the Arcade PIS). It's not just the death that makes me stay away from this. It's the characters being threatened thereby.

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Posted By akbogert

Whoops... typed this up separately and forgot tagging. Primary addressee: , CC:

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Posted By Yai_Inn

@akbogert: I'm not sure when I'll be able to reply to all of it, just read it though.

@akbogert said:

And again, I find it grimly amusing that you've been the equivalent of my nemesis since the day I joined CV.

This made laugh so good. Not in a villainous kind of way, but a humorous one.

And you lose a lot of creditability in my eyes when you say:

@akbogert said:

I don't mind seeing characters in danger of dying. I mind seeing these ones.

Basically if Hopeless was doing the same thing but to characters you didn't like it would all be ok?

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Posted By akbogert

@Yai_Inn: Actually, it was specifically so you wouldn't make that faulty conclusion that I added the very next sentence: "Not just because I like them -- because I haven't even read Avengers Academy, so I don't even know all of them -- but because who they are should have gotten them off the hook for a series this grim."

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Posted By Yai_Inn

@akbogert said:

@Yai_Inn: Actually, it was specifically so you wouldn't make that faulty conclusion that I added the very next sentence: "Not just because I like them -- because I haven't even read Avengers Academy, so I don't even know all of them -- but because who they are should have gotten them off the hook for a series this grim."

Doesn't change a thing. Because you think who they are shouldn't qualify them for something this grim. But characters who you deem worthy of a story this grim are okay to be killed off?

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Posted By akbogert

@Yai_Inn said:

@akbogert said:

@Yai_Inn: Actually, it was specifically so you wouldn't make that faulty conclusion that I added the very next sentence: "Not just because I like them -- because I haven't even read Avengers Academy, so I don't even know all of them -- but because who they are should have gotten them off the hook for a series this grim."

Doesn't change a thing. Because you think who they are shouldn't qualify them for something this grim. But characters who you deem worthy of a story this grim are okay to be killed off?

What would you like me to say? If I say "yes" you'll accuse me of the same hypocrisy I mentioned in the The X-Students.... thread. I don't think it's fair at all to say a character should or shouldn't be up for slaughter based on whether you like someone. If I say "no," the impossible follow-up is, "so, what, should no one ever die at all?"

Note that a bit earlier I said "So if you want to see grit and risk and change for once, fine, but do it with characters who've had it too easy; don't take the downtrodden orphans there. It's just, well, heartless." I've emphasized the most important part, the "if" on which the rest is conditional. I don't want to see teen characters dying. I don't think death is necessary for making a story interesting, and there are plenty of extreme risks that aren't fatality. I'm just saying that even if I believed there was a compelling argument for the need to raise stakes like this (which I do NOT believe), even if I did, I wouldn't consider these kids the sort who had been lacking in grit in their stories. If you're asking me to name names, who would I be okay with seeing die? That's not going to happen. Like I said, my emotions are tied to the characters I've invested in. I can't name any characters I've read a lot of who I'd be happy to see die or threatened with this kind of situation.

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Posted By lykopis

@Yai_Inn said:

@lykopis:

  1. Arcade: It's obvious the OP doesn't care about mis-characterization if he's not going to complain about Arcade. Everything that was said regarding breaking continuity was nit picking.
  2. Other books: He's criticizing the author not the book. Look at the title of the thread. If he's going to say Hopeless is a terrible writer for doing x, y and z he should also acknowledge every other writer guilty of doing x, y, z. But then this rant would be directed towards the industry and not at the writer who may or may not kill off a character who is liked.
  3. Artist/Editorial: Again, he's not criticizing the book, he's blaming Hopeless.
  4. Fringe: Agree to disagree. I feel that, with the exception of X-23, all of these characters were headed to limbo with this re-launch.
  5. Spiral: Did you read the last issue of Uncanny X-Force? Just because a character hasn't been seen for awhile, that's no excuse for writing her so incompetently.
  6. Purchasing later: It will be spoiled by then. Something I personally don't enjoy. Furthermore, my LCS offers 20% off on comics the day they're released. Following the week of their release they are dropped into $5 bins. So if this series were to last only 20 issues; @ 2.99 with 20% off it's about $47.80. Now if I get those same 20 issues later on, there $5 a piece; or $100 total. I save over $52 by following this (enough to buy another 21 comics!) Now if this series last 40 issues I save over $100.

Let's compare the OP's complaints to the latest issue of Guardians of the Galaxy (which is getting praised no less)

  1. Re-telling the backstory of the character, in the assumption that no one familiar with Peter Quill will be reading; check.
  2. Ignoring continuity and mishandling characters; check. How's about changing a guy that liked his father and couldn't give a damn about Earth into a guy who hates his father and wants to protect the Earth, complete character 180.
  3. Functioning inside a vacuum; check, why is Iron Man on their ship, an alien planet, New York City, and Wakanda all at the same time?

The only difference between Arena and GotG is that there is an actual threat level present in Arena. I know full well that no lasting harm can come to Quill, Gamora, Drax, Racoon, Groot or Iron Man in that series which appears to be what people actually want given the outcry Arena has generated. Yet when we discuss what independent comics can offer that the big two can't the most common answers are change and closure. Arena offers both; it affords the characters the opportunity to have lasting character change (if they survive or even within the series as they are pushed to their limits) while also bringing closure to characters that were likely never going to be seen again.

The threat level here is the reason to read this as a series and not a trade, because spoilers will completely ruin the thrill you can have as a reader being on the edge of your seat not knowing who might die next. Saying that these deaths are meaningless is absurd because that has yet to be seen and cannot be judged until the series has concluded and we examine the effects the deaths have on the survivors and the rest of the MU.

Saying Hopeless is a hack who can't write is disgusting. He's brought us a series that successfully delivers what independents normally triumph over Marvel/DC at. Which is actually the only complaint about this series (because the execution within the actual pages is superb) and dressing it up, with all this insignificant nit picking is childish. The OP even admits that if the death threat wasn't present he'd be reading it. Yet it is the death threat that makes this series memorable.

This reads to me as opinion and to which I can't argue against. Suffice it to say your approach to how you reach yours is very different to mine.

As for criticizing Hopeless -- the OP is completely within rights to do so. Hopeless is the one who is being promoted and marketed, Hopeless is the one discussing the book and what he wants to achieve with it. You are enjoying the book and so praise Hopeless for it? If not and you see only the company who should be recognized for why then fine -- but if you don't and point to Hopeless as the reason, then pointing to Hopeless as the reason for not enjoying the book is fair.

As for Spiral, my point was to do with timing -- not the character itself. I don't like seeing any character hollowed out, and/or changed regardless of whether they were recently on panel or not. My point was that characters (such as Hazmat) have been in readers' sights for a while due to Avengers Academy. Any change in character would come off horridly -- from one book to another in a space of a month (which arguably is a continuation of the first with a different heading).

To claim Avengers Arena potentially offers lasting character change is a bit confusing. Lasting character change in what way? The complaint here is that character change and development achieved in books like the Runaways and Avengers Academy are being regressed/ignored. The same can happen to these character after Avengers Arena (or during under the pen of a new writer.) This has happened before, is happening now and will continue to happen (likely to anyway) in the future to many character in many books.

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Posted By akbogert

Read a newer Q&A with Hopeless today. One thing which caught my eye, and is somewhat relevant here, was when he said

"In the first issue, Arcade showed them how powerless they are to beat him. Throughout the rest of the arc, he’s showing them how trapped they are. No one is coming to save them."

Now I really can't wait to hear the explanation for how Arcade managed to pull a fast one on everyone in the universe. Given the recent PIS preview in which Arcade reveals that he made his own Trigger Scent, my optimism about this series, and its respect for canon, continues to tank.

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Posted By akbogert

(also added this to OP)

So, one of the free issues I snagged from that Marvel FIRST giveaway was AA #1, because I'm okay with sending the message "I'm interested, but I'm not going to pay for this." Honestly I'm not sure how they plan to use the information on what people download -- whether they'll try to adapt it into further business plans, or whether the hope was simply to get people hooked on runs which they will then pay to follow. That's besides the point.

The point is, I finally actually read an issue and (far more importantly) the letters section at the end (I now wish I could find scans of just the letters sections, honestly).

And...well honestly, I just don't see the virtual reality argument. I see why people want it. I even sort of got that vibe from the suspended animation/life bar thing (though the latter has been claimed by Hopeless to literally have just been an aesthetic decision, not part of the plot).

Now, my latest point still stands; it's all well and good for Hopeless to have Arcade say "You're completely cut off. Nobody is coming to get you. Trust me, they wouldn't know where to look." But I want an explanation, because there are some incredibly sophisticated tracking technologies and mutations which cannot, in the interest of good writing, actually be ignored. His whole "self-contained. self-contained. self-contained." bit -- because "this concept only works if there's no way out" -- is only as good as he can defend how they ended up in a self-contained trap. So long as that remains unexplained, it will continue to infuriate me.

But to the letters.

Rosemann's introduction to the letters begins with "So that was pretty intense, huh? I mean, just when Hazmat and Mettle have a taste of a happy life it's all ripped away." And suddenly, any optimism I may have had is just gone. Absolutely gone. It's funny because for some reason there are people who, months later, still have optimism -- but I'd have lost it from day one with that intro. It's a blatant admission of precisely why fans would be upset. This book came just one month after the conclusion of Academy. Many readers of Academy were sold this issue thinking of it as a spiritual successor -- retailers even treated it as if it were the same book, and just pulled the first issue for all their Academy subscribers. And immediately these fans saw the optimistic trajectory of the book they'd been following crash and burn in a bloody smear. The editor's comment on that? "Wow. So intense!"

Of course, Hopeless really has nothing to offer to help. Two pages from Mettle's gory end, in response to a letter in which the writer says "Don't you dare to do something to Mettle and Hazmat," Hopeless' answer is "So, um...sorry about Mettle. He died a hero's death and will be missed by all of his fans, me among them."

As I've said earlier, the thing I find truly scary about this book is the fact that Hopeless may actually believe he's justified in what he is doing. To him, the sacrificial nature of Mettle's death was fittingly respectful. It was, to Hopeless, satisfactory. And yet few of the "other" (as he counts himself among them) Mettle fans I've seen have agreed with that assessment. Most are like me: they see it as fridging, shock value to establish high stakes, maybe to motivate Hazmat (but again, that's textbook fridging). So either Hopeless is callous and doesn't care at all about characters, or he's genuinely convinced that what he did to Mettle was okay. And that's what makes the prospect of other characters being at his disposal all the more terrifying. Writing him off as a heartless tool is a lot easier than seeing him as a well-meaning but horrifically misguided storyteller. But these letters, and particularly that one, have me thinking it's more of the latter.

Anyhow, the only other real note I have is that Hopeless' comment that "This is a character-driven story" really only holds water if the characters don't die. No amount of development is worth a thing if it simply dovetails in a death. People who have contradicted my interpretations in the past, should take note of what I said, and what Hopeless said. What I said, having not read the letters:

But the only character development this book seems keen on making is the sort which is, again, close enough -- enough to give clueless readers an idea of who these kids are and why they should care about them. Just enough connection so that readers feel something when the kids they never used to care about end up dead.

And now, what Hopeless wrote before Issue 1 even hit presses:

...A lot of people question why AA is an ongoing series and not a mini. Here's why: For this book to succeed, we have to earn the concept. We have to make you love the characters even if you never read a page of their previous series. We need you to care how it all turns out and to feel each and every death. In order to get there, we need space...

So...who wants to tell me I'm wrong again?

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Posted By impossibilly

@Yai_Inn said:

Furthermore, my LCS offers 20% off on comics the day they're released. Following the week of their release they are dropped into $5 bins. So if this series were to last only 20 issues; @ 2.99 with 20% off it's about $47.80. Now if I get those same 20 issues later on, there $5 a piece; or $100 total. I save over $52 by following this (enough to buy another 21 comics!) Now if this series last 40 issues I save over $100.

I apologize for getting off the original topic, but this astounded me. I'm amazed that a comic book store in today's market can raise the price of a comic $1-$2 the week after it's released. We're not talking about the occasional hot book, like Batman Incorporated 8, we're talking every comic. Is this store located at the other end of a time vortex that lets out in 1994? Why would anyone ever buy a comic from them that was a week old?

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Posted By lykopis

k -- I am caught up

Yes --- you are completely right -- utterly right. Horrifically rightl. I don't know what else to add. Oh --- except for scans of the letters section (I am assuming it''s okay to do so)

I just read #6 and I am livid. (I will scan in the letter pages of this issue later when I am back home)

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Posted By stumpy49er

I just finished issue 6. Absolutely amazing! Left my jaw dropped. Ended up reading it again. I'll probably re read the entire series.

I actually consider this Marvel best comic series right now. Better than Age of Ultron (which is really good) and better than Hawkeye (which is amazing artistically)

@akbogert said:

And...well honestly, I just don't see the virtual reality argument. I see why people want it. I even sort of got that vibe from the suspended animation/life bar thing (though the latter has been claimed by Hopeless to literally have just been an aesthetic decision, not part of the plot).

Now, my latest point still stands; it's all well and good for Hopeless to have Arcade say "You're completely cut off. Nobody is coming to get you. Trust me, they wouldn't know where to look." But I want an explanation, because there are some incredibly sophisticated tracking technologies and mutations which cannot, in the interest of good writing, actually be ignored. His whole "self-contained. self-contained. self-contained." bit -- because "this concept only works if there's no way out" -- is only as good as he can defend how they ended up in a self-contained trap. So long as that remains unexplained, it will continue to infuriate me.

You're lamenting about something that has yet to be explained in the story. It will be explained at some point; it's the writers job to explain story elements when the right time comes. Be patient!

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Edited By RedQueen

@akbogert said:

2900457-detail.jpg

@c2thaj: @YourNeighborhoodComicGeek: @ShadowX: Thank you! I just wish it, you know...mattered.

@DarkxSeraph said:

Are we watching a character assassination of Laura just as stupid in proportion to Julian's?

Who knows? It remains to be seen whether we're getting an actual assassination of Laura. I think it's safe to say that no one who planned to develop her would write her the way Hopeless seems to be. I've seen far too many people talking about her where the word "feral" comes up. This is one of the areas where I can't give a more detailed answer because of having not read the book, but suffice to say she seems to be reacting violently or impulsively (not at everyone, but still, it seems she has snapped at least once). Anyone who actually knows X-23 understands that she's almost robotic in how logical and not prone to emotional outburst she is. The fact that anyone could even suggest that she's wild or aggressive suggests that yes, she's being quite badly written. And in this preview of the next issue, all I can say is, there better freaking be trigger scent involved:

...because if she's just frothing and attacking people, I...I can't be held responsible for my reaction.

I've scrolled through the posts, but I didn't see anyone put this so..... Laura has definitely been exposed to trigger scent in that scan (just in case you didn't already know).

Back to your original post; I absolutely agree. X-23 is one of my favourite characters, and she is certainly not being portrayed 'right' in this series. I just don't agree with the concept of the book.

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Posted By akbogert

@stumpy49er: I did acknowledge that issue 6 is probably the best yet; I also have acknowledged that the nature of what happens in issue 6 simply underscores my point that were Hopeless writing all original characters, and not ruining or threatening ones people already cared about, this book would be at the top of my pull list. Considering the overwhelming majority of the book's fans (and the demographic Marvel intentionally targeted -- see "You won't want to miss this," they said. ) didn't know or care about the characters being used here (or actively hated them), I don't think there's any actual way to dispute that. Almost everyone liking Avengers Arena right now would have liked it the same had none of the characters been pre-existent, and a bunch of people who currently hate it would also be able to like it.

There are a lot of people who have actually said things like "I didn't know much about Kid Britain or Anachronism before I started reading this." Those are real things people who like this book say. To them, there's actually no difference between the old and new characters, because they don't realize that the new characters are new, and they didn't know much about the old ones.

Anyhow, as for the second part of your comment there, I said "so long as that remains unexplained." I also indicated that I know he's going to explain it, and I don't expect him to be able to do so in a way which will placate me. What Hopeless promises and what Hopeless delivers are not the same thing. Hopeless promised respectful and fulfilling deaths for anyone he killed; he proceeded to fridge Mettle in the first issue. So when he says he's going to explain everything about Arcade's godhood, forgive me for being skeptical. There's not one promise (aside from "people will die") he's made which I've actually appreciated the fulfillment of.

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Posted By akbogert

@RedQueen: Aye, thanks for the clarification. I've discussed it somewhere in one of the AA threads (and very briefly summarized my point in the beginning of the thread I linked to above), but the notion of Arcade being capable of creating his own Trigger Scent is the most abominable PIS I've seen in the book to date (and that's saying something). I'd have thought it stupid, but at least consistent, if he'd managed to find a well-connected supplier or something. But the notion that he just whipped it up -- and so easily, too! -- is just infuriatingly bad. I'll say that. It's bad writing. It's not creative license; it's outright ignoring canon for convenience's sake. If the ability to control Weapon X-23 was something that some smart guy could just will himself into making, she would have been useless as a product the program was trying to sell.

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Posted By RedQueen

@akbogert said:

@RedQueen: Aye, thanks for the clarification. I've discussed it somewhere in one of the AA threads (and very briefly summarized my point in the beginning of the thread I linked to above), but the notion of Arcade being capable of creating his own Trigger Scent is the most abominable PIS I've seen in the book to date (and that's saying something). I'd have thought it stupid, but at least consistent, if he'd managed to find a well-connected supplier or something. But the notion that he just whipped it up -- and so easily, too! -- is just infuriatingly bad. I'll say that. It's bad writing. It's not creative license; it's outright ignoring canon for convenience's sake. If the ability to control Weapon X-23 was something that some smart guy could just will himself into making, she would have been useless as a product the program was trying to sell.

That's a very good point, I hadn't thought of that.

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Posted By stumpy49er

I'm going to be blunt. Any character that hasn't been around for the better part of a decade like the Runaways, X-23, Juston, (in Darkhawks case 2 decades) doesn't really deserve this much outcry for their potential demise. Hazmat, Mettle and Reptil were created less than 3 years ago. Avengers Academy was cancelled from lack of sales. Are these characters really going to be that missed? The rest are original characters. Also, whose to say there won't be multiple survivors.

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Posted By akbogert

@stumpy49er said:

I'm going to be blunt. Any character that hasn't been around for the better part of a decade like the Runaways, X-23, Juston, (in Darkhawks case 2 decades) doesn't really deserve this much outcry for their potential demise. Hazmat, Mettle and Reptil were created less than 3 years ago. Avengers Academy was cancelled from lack of sales. Are these characters really going to be that missed? The rest are original characters. Also, whose to say there won't be multiple survivors.

No one said that. But there won't be plentiful survivors.

As for the bolded, I'll be blunt: that's the least defensible statement I've ever read on this site.

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Posted By Timandm
@akbogert: I just read the issue and wanted to let you know
 Also,  I wanted to comment on something you said earlier.  I can't remember to whom.
You're absolutely right when you say Laura is logical.  She was raised IN A LAB for one purpose: to be the world's greatest assassin.   She was treated like a machine that was being perfected.  The scientists and technicians were forbidden from showing her emotions such as compassion or love. 
She is NOT cold, she is logical.
She is NOT unfeeling, she is efficient and expedient. 
She was nearly sixteen when she escaped.  By the age of 16 much of who we are is already in place and will never change.  She is intelligent, logical, calculating, and efficient.   But once you get past the claws, and the assassin exterior, there is a very warm, caring, and maybe even sweet soul under all that...  Okay, maybe not sweet, but definitely warm and caring...
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Posted By akbogert

@Timandm: Indeed, I'd actually commented on the Trigger Scent point (at the top of this very comment page, in fact ^_^).

And seeing as I adore Laura and she's my favorite character, I know all of what you said. My point is that due to her upbringing and the way she is, a person could easily mistake her for being emotionless (though yes, in time that has changed slightly). One should not be able to mistake her for impulsive or prone to outburst. That people whose only exposure to X-23 is this book have been seen making that mistake is proof enough that she is not being written nearly as much as Laura Kinney as she is as Wolverine with boobs -- because while Wolverine is a killing machine who shows aggression and sometimes doesn't think things all the way through, Laura would never do that. My point isn't that she's a completely unrecognizable character, simply that she's being written a little carelessly if people are getting that impression.

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Posted By Timandm
@akbogert: Yeah, I know you knew that.   I was just supporting what you said...  People who only read about Laura during her guest appearances, don't know her background and they sometimes get the impression that she's simply another Wolverine...  I was just adding in my two cents worth...
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Posted By akbogert

@Timandm: Ah, I wasn't sure. You said I was right about her being logical, but since earlier I'd said she could be mistaken for being cold and unfeeling, I thought you were correcting me. Speaking of which, I'm fairly certain she was 13 when she escaped.

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Posted By Timandm
@akbogert: That's probably correct!
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Posted By crimsonspider89

Avengers Academy was not cancelled due to sales. It was in the perfect range of cult following. And Arena sales are already at lower end Academy sales. Hazmat, Mettle, Reptil and X-23 have all been inconsistent with there past character growth.

Hopeless does good characterization of Cammi and the new kids and the Runaways but his story and pacing and characterization of the older characters have been god awful. Cable and the X-Force people already don't care about and this book is headed towards the same direction.

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Posted By stumpy49er

Since the majority of outcry in this thread is based on X 23's 'eventual' demise and/or the 'probability' of her murdering someone; whose to say that by the end of the series Laura will not only survive but do so having never hurt another contestant? She hasn't killed anyone yet, regardless of the trigger scent. This could be a great character defining series for her. The beauty of this series is in not knowing the outcome.

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Posted By akbogert

@stumpy49er: You're clearly seeing a different majority than I am. While I won't deny that my personal attachment is mostly to Laura because she's the character with which I'm personally most familiar, I've been pretty clear about complaints dealing with other characters. Mettle's death remains the one about which Academy fans still have the biggest and most legitimate reason to be upset. Nico's staff doesn't work as it should despite how impossible it should be for Arcade to have created a situation to depower it, and if she dies in such a context it'll be all the more infuriating.

X-23 already has a defining series. She's had a lot of incredible development over the years. While I won't say she can't develop further through these events (because obviously she could), she's already been very well defined in very powerful and well-told stories in the past; she doesn't need a character-defining series, as her character already has definition. The fact that not everyone has read X-23: Innocence Lost and X-23: Target X does not mean those stories do not exist, or that the character is still amorphous and in need of someone "making her matter." That arrogance is the problem I continue to have with Hopeless; the notion that he needs to convince people these kids are worth caring about (when so many people like me already do care about them, from many different corners of the Marvel readership), and the notion that the reason he gives for needing to make people care is so that we feel "each and every death."

So I focus on X-23, again, because she's what I know best. After her, I've talked most about Nico and Chase, because Runaways is the next affected series I know most about after Laura's past. Had I read all of that yet, or had I read Avengers Academy, you'd better believe I'd be complaining a lot more and backing up those complaints with details about all those characters too. So I'll come back to what you said at the end. If I had been a faithful reader of Academy, and I had in the last issue seen, finally, a moment of peace and happiness for Mettle, then where exactly is the beauty of this series for me after the very first issue?

It's nowhere. This series is only beautiful, the mystery only captivating, for people who don't care. And considering you said earlier that as far as you're concerned none of these characters are worth caring about because of their newness, there's nothing you can really say that will not just prove my point.

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Posted By stumpy49er

@akbogert said:

@stumpy49er:

It's nowhere. This series is only beautiful, the mystery only captivating, for people who don't care. And considering you said earlier that as far as you're concerned none of these characters are worth caring about because of their newness, there's nothing you can really say that will not just prove my point.

Just meant that about Hazmat, Mettle and Reptil. The rest of the characters I do absolutely care about. Those three I said I don't care about because they've barely been around and not many people (comic book fans included) even know they exist. But I'll admit, I was wrong to make that statement. Certainly there are fans of those characters. Rude of me to just expect people to not care. In my defense I wrote that while operating with not much sleep.

I do think that many of these characters would have faded away into obscurity. For example, the character that got me reading Avengers Arena is Darkhawk, who was in one of the very first comics I'd read 20 years ago as a kid. After reading that comic I couldn't wait to read more about Darkhawk. Guess what happenned to Darkhawk in the last 20 years? Nothing! Darkhawk being in this series, which I consider to be very good, is the best thing he's done in 20 years. If there are issues in this series that help define his character and give him great moments but he eventually dies? I'll be happy. Because he was involved in something (hopefully) great.

I've seen plenty of great characters fade into obscurity, only to get a brief cameo in the next big crossover mega event; only to be killed in one small measly panel. Ever read Infinite Crisis? Quite a few Teen Titans died in that without much care for the character at all. At least in this case these characters will be treated with respect. Except for Red Raven. As Hopeless said 'Red Raven is the exception that proves the rule.'

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Posted By akbogert

@stumpy49er: Red Raven is the tricky situation. She had, I think, only 7 appearances ever? If I find even one person who tells me "I was a fan of her," then I'll go ahead and get angry over that too, but it seems like her being dead isn't something worth complaining about. What is worth complaining about is the outrageously stupid way she was killed. If you're going to put a character in a book literally for no other purpose than to stupidly kill them to prove a "point" about the environment, why not create a new one for that? There's absolutely no defense for what Hopeless did there. It was dumb, terrible writing, plain and simple. But at the same time, it's the least aggravating thing he's done (that's still aggravating).

Avengers Academy lasted for over three years, and had a decent enough following -- one about on par with where Avengers Arena, which directly replaced it (and was, as I've said earlier, even treated as the continuation of the book and sold to loyal Academy readers on that premise), has since dropped off to. In fact, because this book directly followed Academy, the Academy readers should be considered the number one fanbase this book should have respected. The characters which people who started reading this should most have been expected to know and care about. And they are the group which has received the biggest slap in the face thus far. Mettle was killed a month after the book he starred in "ended," and was used as a selling point to people who had been reading that book. I think Academy fans have the best excuse for being angry, and I'm actually surprised there aren't as many vocal protesters from that camp. Then again, it's hard to be as vocal or enraged as I get, so I'll forgive them.

The thing is, the faded into obscurity argument (while possibly true) isn't actually very useful. Aside from the fact that the majority of fans would rather see obscurity than death (even if it means one less "interesting" story with the character), you have the triviality of any "development" that occurs. It's one thing if you have a truly underutilized character who no one really noticed or cared about, and then you make his or her final moments important and memorable and he or she goes out with a bang. But all of the kids in this book are niche favorites; it's not that they lack character or were never featured in an interesting way, it's simply that the books in which they were featured didn't have a massive readership. But as characters, they are chock full of defining and memorable moments, and they don't need a death to make them have mattered. And that's what I find arrogant about this book and about the way Hopeless discusses it. It all takes for granted that most people need to be convinced to care about these kids. It suggests that if the characters were to have just died outright, no one would have cared. Maybe none of the new, unfamiliar-with-the-cast readers would have cared. But a ton of devoted fans would have cared. And they will still care later. All this book is accomplishing is ensuring that more people are upset about inevitable deaths than would have been upset had this been a mini.

Of course none of that even deals with the specifics, which also stand a chance to aggravate. With Mettle, people can be angry not only that he died, but how he died. Hopeless thinks it was okay because it was heroic. Sure, the heroism was good -- but just because a death was better than it could have been doesn't actually make it a good reason to die. So I'll ask you, as a Darkhawk fan: if Powell dies only because he was depowered and thus made vulnerable, will you be satisfied? Won't the very fact that he had his amulet ripped from him in the first place sort of cloud over a lot of the "goodness" his death might incorporate? Obviously you are free to be okay with that; I just think it would bother me to no end that the only way Hopeless was able to kill my favorite very powerful character was by arbitrarily stripping him of his power to make him vulnerable to things he shouldn't have been endangered by in the first place (kind of like Nico and her staff, or Laura and the homemade TS).

As for the event deaths, I think it's more of a straw man. Just because, again, there are worse and even stupider ways to deal with character death doesn't actually mean this isn't still stupid.

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Posted By crimsonspider89

Dude check cosmic Marvel. Darkhawk was given character development there.

So Darkhawk was not just doing nothing for 20 years.

I am starting to think you didn't do research.

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Edited By stumpy49er

Probably best if I not comment on here anymore. Not going anywhere positive.

I'll continue to read Avengers Arena because I think it's good. You can all continue to hate it.

Maybe it will get cancelled. That happens; I might be done with Marvel. Maybe.

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Posted By akbogert

@stumpy49er: Well, I'm sorry to hear all that. I actually thought we were making progress, especially since last night. But I guess not. :/

And as seems ever to be the issue here, it's possible to believe the book is "good" in quality while still hating it. There are plenty of comedians, for example, who are terribly funny but I find incredibly offensive and therefore avoid. Taste and quality do not necessarily coincide. Now if you actually have points which disprove my position on what I just said (if you think it's something more than just differing opinions) by all means say so. I'm pretty entrenched, but I do consider everything people say before actually responding.

Anyhow, I'm not sure I understand why this book is the lynchpin keeping you attached.

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Posted By stumpy49er

@akbogert: Nothing against you. You've been respectful and knowledgeable. I just don't feel like keeping up the debate.

Good luck. Hope Laura lives.

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