Controversial from its inception, Avengers Arena recently concluded its second arc, ‘Game On’ – so here are my thoughts!
Game On was an unusual story, and occasionally had pacing issues (#11, I’m looking at you). It also took one character, and elevated them to the point where they became one of the most entertaining new comic-book villains I’ve read in a long time. It made me realise just how rarely Marvel writers now get round to creating brand new bad guys – Aaron being a notable exception with the Hellfire kids.
Apex, the villain of the piece, is the real heart of Game On. She, alone of all the kids, has chosen to embrace Arcade’s insane world. She believes it’s kill or be killed, and, with her tremendous powers, she simply wants to survive. And yet, she takes just a bit too much pleasure in the concept, and it’s that which sells her as a true villain. Of course, this is absolutely ironic; when Avengers Academy started out, it was sold as the bunch most likely to turn bad. Remember this scene?
But, in this arc where one kid goes bad, the Avengers Academy participants are pretty much out of it. Hazmat and Reptil spend most of Game On recuperating from events of the first arc (both physically and psychologically). X-23 and Juston get beat on pretty heavy (alas, poor Juston). And the young hero who truly seems to have committed to the path of corruption is someone the Avengers weren’t even watching. Love the sense of irony.
Apex’s story is wonderfully (and weirdly) fleshed out in #9, and from there the action becomes unrelenting. Using her power of technopathic control, she assembles a seemingly-unstoppable army.
By the end of this story, though, the battle against Apex has done the opposite to what Arcade would have intended – and he seems to be blissfully unaware of it, too, which bodes well for the next arc.
It’ll be interesting to see if Hopeless plans for this particular bunch to stick together, and if Marvel have plans for the survivors as a team!
I’m not going to say much about #12, other than: read it. I don’t want to spoil it for you, just read it. It’s going down as one of my favourite comics of all time.