I've actually held off with posting about Avengers Arena up until now. It's a book which has upset a lot of readers from the outset. Fans of characters from Avengers Academy, The Runaways, Darkhawk, and that kid from the Sentinel series Marvel did a few years ago.
Because from its very concept Avengers Arena is not going to be good for their health.
Anybody who's ever read Battle Royale (or seen the film adaptation of it) will find the very deliberate aesthetic rather familiar...
Because it is. Intentionally so. The villain of the piece even tells you (thought not in quite so many words) that this is where he got the idea.
What villain, you say?
Well, the clue is in words 'Murder World' appearing on the cover to issue one. Who remembers a guy named Arcade? Old Captain Britain, Spider-man, and X-Men villain? Redheaded fella with a penchant for creating elaborate games designed to kill superheroes?
He's had a run in with X-Factor in recent years, and a brief encounter with some of the Secret Avengers, but in his spare time it seems he's been somewhat ramping up his 'Murder World' concept. Gone are the giant pinball machines and Alice in Wonderland themed death contraptions...
He's gotten himself his own personal Murder World Island.
An island in an undisclosed location, which he chosen to populate with teen heroes, kidnapped from around the Marvel Universe, who are then pitted in a game of survival. Against themselves. The one teen left alive will be allowed to live. But in order to get there they'll have to kill all of the others. Some comrades. Some strangers. Kind of brutal.
The kind of stuff which makes certain fanbases very angry (there have already been petitions).
But naturally, these are teen heroes we're talking about here. They're not likely to just capitulate to such requests to kill each other. Which is why Arcade has made it perfectly clear that anybody who protests, or refuses, will also die. By his very own hands.
Which might initially seem an idle threat, or indeed a little beyond Arcade's usual MO. But then this happened at the end of issue one.
Yeah. It would seem Murder World is not the only thing to have received an upgrade...
But Arcade, and his new-found near omnipotence aside, why is this book of particular interest to this Blog? Well, because while the majority of teens on this Island (and Darkhawk, who is not a teen any longer) are established members of The Runaways (Chase and Nico), Avengers Academy (Reptil, Hazmat, Mettle and X-23), have been a sidekick for Drax the Destroyer (Cammi) or spent time operating hacked Sentinels (Juston) the series also introduces a new set of teen characters who started to be referred to by writer Dennis Hopeless in his early interviews for the book only as the students of 'Braddock Academy'. With no further context offered.
When poked by another poster over on Twitter, however, Dennis Hopeless stated that it was:
Which certainly guaranteed that I'd be on board for the duration.
So, it seems that holding on to old grudges of being beaten TWICE by Captain Britain, Arcade has decided to kidnap some of his new students. We've not seen a lot of them in the four issues of Avengers Arena so far, but here's who they are:
Nara: Described as '...an Atlantean with abandonment issues'. One of Namor the Submariner's people, but so far we know nothing more than that.
Cullen Bloodstone: '--Of the Monster Hunter Bloodstones'. Presumably that makes him the Son of Ulysses Bloodstone, and younger sibling of Elsa Bloodstone.
Anachronism: Whose real name is 'Aiden,' but has chosen that codename. He dresses very much like a junior version of 2000 AD's Slaine, and carries a HUGE axe around with him. He has apparently inherited '...the body of an immortal Celtic Warlord...'
Katy Bashir: Who pretty much sums herself up, above. She's principally a Flier.
And finally, the guy who's on the cover to issue 5:
Kid Briton: Who is an alternate universe, teenage, Captain Britain. Although, to what extent was not readily apparent.
I've been holding off posting about these guys since November, simply because I wasn't certain that they were ever going to be shown to be truly linked to Captain Britain or British Marvel. I had hoped, but a Twitter response is not the same as in-panel proof. Well, today Comic Book Resources have put up a preview of Avengers Arena #5 which now puts any question of the matter beyond doubt.
That certainly looks like it's Braddock Manor in the background. I have no idea what they are fighting there, but it's certainly Elsa Bloodstone, Spitfire, Meggan Braddock and Union Jack trying to contend with it. Which for me is all the link I need.
As for Kid Briton? Well, the preview not only features Captain Britain, but confirms that Kid Briton is also 'Brian Braddock'. A younger Brian Braddock from an alternate Earth. A guy OUR Brian Braddock feels has potential, but...
So, basically it's a bit like 'What if Captain Britain had all that power but was an impetuous ass-hat?' :)
Kid Briton was 'pulled out' of his native dimension? Whether that was 'rescued from' or brought to ours for training, of course, remains to be seen. Only time will tell...
I was already on board with this book. I'm twice as on board now.
But characters I have a vested interest in aside, it's actually been a really solid, character focussed book so far. Forget the controversy, it's actually really well put together. I cannot recommend it enough.
But if you need a British Marvel based incentive? Well, there ya go.. :)
Avengers Arena #5 is out next Wednesday (27th February).