Friday, November 23, 2012

Why I'm Giving Avengers Arena A Shot

I mentioned on Wednesday Fearless Defenders would be the third Marvel title I'd add over the next 4 months. One of the others is Captain America (at least I shouldn't have to worry about fill-in artists). The other is Avengers Arena, which has gotten a bit of a negative reaction, for a variety of reasons, among the fans, the ones I've seen, anyway. Negative Internet reaction is no guarantee of anything, but I figured I could discuss why I'm going to give it a whirl.

1. Dennis Hopeless. The only thing he's written that I've read was Legion of Monsters, the mini-series Marvel published last year. It was pretty good. There was a nice sense of tension, of the heroes working against the clock, which expresses itself in some of the in-fighting and desperate decisions. Which is the sort of thing that ought to fit in a story about a bunch of teen heroes on an island fighting for their lives. The romantic subplot between Elsa Bloodstone and Jack Russell felt a bit forced, but other than that, it was very entertaining. If he goes to that well again, I think it'll feel like more of a fit, since we're dealing with a cast of mostly teenagers under stress, and they can be prone to abrupt, head-scratching decisions.

2. Kev Walker. I haven't read anything Walker drew since Annihilation: Nova, which was, jeez, six year ago? But, other than his Quasar having a Robert Redfordesque, worn boot leather face, it's good work. I know I read some good things about his work on Thunderbolts with Jeff Parker. Of course, with Marvel and their shipping schedule (5 issues in the first 3 months), I suppose I ought to be concerned with the other artists. Just from a few pages of Secret Warriors I found, I'm not sure if Alessandro Vitti's style really meshes with Walker's, but the two of them might be able to modify. Really, as long as they stay on the same page about what characters are supposed to look like, or are wearing, it shouldn't be a huge issue. And Hopeless could always avoid that problem by switching focus to different characters depending on the artist. Like how the DnA Guardians of the Galaxy used Wes Craig on the team that was lost in time during War of Kings, and used Brad Walker for the issues about the group that was still in the present.

3. Arcade and Darkhawk. They're both in the book, I like both of them, especially Arcade, so that's a win. I recognize Darkhawk could very well die, but. . .

4. I'm fairly inured to deaths in comics these days. If a character dies, and someone else wants to use them down the line, they'll show up. There may be an explanation for their not being dead, there may not. I like to think I've reached the point I can roll with these things without flipping out too badly. If it's really bad, I can always ignore it. I've gotten pretty good at that over the last few years. I wonder if it'll really be as bad as all that. They're teenagers who have an adult trying to make them do something, and they're heroes, who have the remarkable tendency to pull the rug out from villains. I figure there have to be at least a few fake out deaths in there.

5. The similarities to Hunger Games don't bother me. Marvel's been pretty open about them, but I know it bugs some people. I get that, in a way. It can be irritating when you something comes along and seems to be ripping off some preexisting thing that we really like. Back when Firefly first started, I about lost my mind on a forum complaining about how it was ripping off Outlaw Star. In this particular case, I have no affection for Hunger Games, so it doesn't really bother me. I'm not sure I even knew what that was until the movie came out. If I'm thinking about stories involving kids being pitted against each other to the death, I'd probably think of GrimJack's time in the Arena, or that Stephen King (written as Richard Bachman, though) story The Long Walk. Heck, I used to make up stories about superheroes being pitted against each other by a villain. What else were action figures for?

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