Saturday, 1 June 2013

Avengers Arena Volume 1 Graphic Novel

Avengers Arena Volume 1 graphic novel, Kill Or Die. Collecting Avengers Arena issues #1-6, written by Dennis Hopeless, and illustrated by Kev Walker and Alessandro Vitti.

I've featured Avengers Arena on this Blog several times, showcasing a new character called Kid Briton. Kid Briton is a young Brian Braddock, from an alternative reality, but he's different from Captain Britain not just in the age difference, but his attitude, which the bits I've seen so far have shown him to be a tad bit cocky, much to the annoyance on Brian Braddock.

Also in a previous post I vented my ire in the direction of this comic run, with it's obvious rip off of 'Battle Royale', and it's use of characters that are fan favourites, or new characters which I felt have been created just to use as cannon fodder. Then there was the death of Kid Briton, pretty early on, which caused me to become quite angry.

My view of this series, and my opinion of Kid Briton has now changed, now that I've read the first volume of Avengers Arena.

Arcade has decided to turn up the volume on his Murder World idea, and to be honest, Murder World has been a bit of a joke with no murders ever actually happening. This time he's decided to kidnap 16 young heroes, mainly from the Avengers Academy, and the Braddock Academy, along with a few other heroes stolen from under the noses of organisations such as S.W.O.R.D, and pit them against each other in an only one can win scenario, and the winner, or survivor walks free. Uh? Yep! Battle Royale indeed!
The Braddock Academy students are Anachronism, Apex, Bloodstone, Kid Briton, and Nara.

We all know Arcade from the past, especially memorable for his attempt at killing Captain Britain and Spider-Man in Marvel Team-Up #65 & #66 in 1978, and not forgetting Excalibur issues #4 & #5 in 1989, but he's always been a mad, comedic fool in a white suit, who owns a fairground (Murder World), and that's him, but not this time. This time Murder World is a whole Island, and Arcade himself seems to have God-like powers.

Where these powers come from is anyone's guess, but I do have a theory. Arcades powers, the island, in fact everything is in fact all part of some virtual reality show, game type thing. Now the big question is, if this is indeed a virtual reality thing, and if you die in this game, do you die for real in the real world? Tad Williams wrote a book called 'Otherland' which was based slightly in the future, where gamers would immerse themselves in the game, and take on attributes of characters they'd created themselves, but there was a clandestine organisation that was killing gamers in the VR world, which would in turn kill them in their suspended real life game state, which is what leads me to think this, plus there's a few other things that happen, that seem to be very game connected.

Speaking of deaths, they happen pretty early on, and 16 become 14 before the second issue has even got going, in a gruesome, and bone-crunching type of way.

I approached this graphic novel with quite a bit of apprehension, expecting my anger to increase with each death, but still interested in a whole new collection of British heroes. This is a really good book! The art is very good by Kev Walker, but it's not the art that makes it, it's the way Dennis Hopeless has written the characters, he's made them interesting, each and every one of them. This book explores their fears, their dark sides, and how they interact with each other to survive.

It was Kid Briton that drew me to this book, and he does play quite a big part in this story, but the rest of the Braddock Academy are also very good. The interaction between them all is great, even if it is rather volatile.

A clever part to this tale is the use of flashbacks, which give you an insight in to the personalities, and happenings before they were all kidnapped, and with Kid Briton, he is a bully, a plain and simple bully.

I grew to dislike him quite a bit as the tale unfolded, especially with his antics at the Braddock Academy. He is so far removed from the Brian Braddock that we know, and when his death actually happened, I wasn't pleased, or even annoyed, but it didn't anger me as much as it would have if I had grown to like him.

If this story is all a virtual reality game created by Arcade, and the young heroes aren't actually croaking ,their mental state at the end of it will be in a somewhat traumatic condition, and I can see some of them becoming quite damaged, especially Apex, who has the ability to convince anyone to do what she wants them to do, all for her own gain, she wants to be last man standing. The favourite to win has got to be X-23, but one thing I've learned by reading this, is that nothing is going to be predictable. My personal favourite now is Cullen Bloodstone... 'of the Monster Hunter Bloodstones', who has yet to show his potential.

I wasn't sure if I would buy the second volume, because of Kid Briton's death, but now I'm quite excited about the second volume, and I will buy it when it's released. 

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