You've probably heard the premise for AVENGERS ARENA by now. A bunch of super-powered teens are taken by Arcade, placed on an island and told they need to fight each other or die. It's a crazy idea. It's an idea you wouldn't expect on a comic with "Avengers" in the title.
The interesting thing about this book is you're not quite sure what to expect. There are a lot of familiar faces here, especially if you've been reading AVENGERS ACADEMY, RUNAWAYS and other books with teen characters.
The immediate reaction is these characters can't die. There are a few fan-favorite characters here. If we are going to see characters die off, you would expect the lesser known, less popular ones to go first. But that would make the book too predictable. Let's just say that there is death in this issue. Chances are, some readers are not going to be too happy.
As odd as the idea is for a Marvel title, it's great to see Arcade elevated to a higher level of villainy. He has pretty much always been seen as a lame character. He ran Murderworld which seemed to never actually kill the heroes when they were thrown in for his enjoyment (or when he was paid to do so). Things are about to get hardcore here.
Kev Walker jumps right into this title taking on a number of characters. The key when there are so many different ones is making sure each is recognizable. I won't claim to know each of the 'contestants' here but you'll recognize them as they show up.
Because most of the characters aren't top-tier ones, it wouldn't be too surprising if they do get killed off. None of these characters currently have their own titles. Of course Marvel would kill them to keep the story going.
It seems the reception for this title will be a mixed bag. If you know and love the characters from AVENGERS ACADEMY or other titles, you'll want to see them survive and will get upset if their luck doesn't hold out. If you're not familiar with them, seeing them die won't be that big of a deal. I've read AVENGERS ACADEMY off and on so my reaction won't be the same as those that may be completely opposed to the premise here.
We have to assume there's more to the plot than watching characters fight to survive. If there's only sixteen characters to begin with (I won't mention how many may not make it past this issue), it's going to get down to the final few real fast. If this ends up being a book where death is used just to drive the book, readers may not go for that for too long. If there isn't another hook, this comic could get old real fast.
Unless things change somewhere down the line, the characters are told they have 30 days. The comic opens with a flash forward to day 29. That means we know of two characters that will survive that long.
Let's get ready to...watch young characters die. This is not going to be a heartfelt book. If you're a fan of the character brought in here, you'll be happy to see them in a comic but you're bound to get irate if they are here simply to be killed off. The idea of sixteen characters being gathered by Arcade and forced to fight or kill each other seems unlikely. But there will be death here. It will be gruesome. This isn't the typical Avengers book you're used to. We have to believe that there will be more to this comic than just watching kids get killed. The hook is not knowing what's going to happen. This book has a lot of unknowns to it. Dennis Hopeless is going to have to tread carefully as readers are bound to make angry comments when they see characters they love get killed.
The real key is where is this title going to go. It's hard to say how long this title can last under these conditions. That's what has me most curious. I want to know if we're going to see a curve ball at some point and see the premise of the comic change.