Marvel Comics Hunger Games, er Battle Royale, um… Avengers Arena continues with issue #4. New alliances are formed, characters get busted up both mentally and physically, and we get to see a character eat fruit with a pterodactyl head. With an encapsulation like that you’d think we wouldn’t have to ask: Is it Good? But hell, that’s our gig and we’re gonna do it anyways.
Avengers Arena #4 (Marvel Comics)
We open up on Arcade’s Murder World, Quadrant 3 with Nico and Chase ruminating upon their current survival strategy.
Dennis Hopeless must be deliberately penning Chase’s dialogue as some satirical conflation of Jamie Kennedy and Kevin Federline because I’m not sure I’ve ever hated a character as much after observing them for a mere page or two. (This coming from a guy who recently re-read Rob Liefeld’s Bloodwulf for shits and giggles.) Then again, he doesn’t sound much different from the prerequisite “I listen to Eminem — that means I too, am gangster” crowd that I see every weekend at the bars, so maybe I should ease up some.
Or not. Sometimes not talking is okay, peckerhead.
There’s a lot of expository dialogue and heart to heart chatter that goes on around the campfire during a lull in the action and it’s here that Hopeless gives us a good feel for the characters. Even Chase almost manages to redeem himself after showing this shred of protectiveness for Nico:
D’aww. Still a better romance story than Twilight.
Speaking of which, Nico is one of the more interesting new characters introduced in the last decade by Marvel. (Even if Alessandro Vitti doesn’t seem interested in making her look one scintilla Japanese-American.)
The part where she conjures food like some World of Warcraft mage through resourceful use of her magic on an indigenous tree was the highlight of the issue for me:
Her power to cast any spell once (but only once or the spell will backfire the second time) brings a much needed element of capriciousness to the “murder island” premise and I’m interested to see what else Hopeless can do with it. I’m still apathetic towards the other characters however, although with the following panel, it’s almost as if Hopeless, in all his hipness, had read my mind!
Now all we need is a sly meta reference to your band sounding like shit as well.
Final Score: 6.5
- The art is clean and nice to look at, though Vitti needs lessons in drawing Asians.
- Unique little peculiarities with NIco that make the issue interesting and show promise for future developments.
- No involvement from the main antagonist, Arcade.
- Characters are in pretty much the same position at the end of the issue as they were at the beginning despite what occurs throughout.
Is It Good?
It’s just about there. Another character goes down, though whether or not it’s for the count isn’t made certain. (Things don’t look good.) I hate to split hairs about something as paltry as the cover being misleading — but it is. (The characters featured barely have any involvement with the story.)
That being said, there is some solid action and character development that takes place, but come the story’s end we’re left pretty much exactly where we started. I feel comfortable giving the rag a 6.5 rating, but won’t be too proud to come back and adjust it accordingly provided we see the pacing pick up as well as see a lot more interaction with Arcade, the main antagonist.