By Dennis Hopeless & Karl Moline
Anyone who had reservations about this series when it was announced is probably feeling pretty silly right now. Issue after issue, Avengers Arena has become a series about more than just superpowered teens killing each other on an island. It’s a story about friendship, love and betrayal, and issue #16 hammers that home as we head towards the series finale.
Dennis Hopeless has done a great job getting us to this point. For 15 issues everyone on the island has been adamantly anti-fighting. They were working together to figure a way out of their situation. After the events of issue #15 everything has fallen apart. Hopeless writes each participant of the arena as desperate and backed into a corner. It’s hard to watch them spiral like this but it reads so, so well.
Karl Moline steps in once again on art duties and does a good job. He draws each character’s desperation very well, especially Hazmat who is being hunted mercilessly by X-23. His best scenes come from drawing Tim/Katy. He not only got the face looking different for obvious reasons but also manages to convey the different attitude in the character by how they sit or look around.
However, Arcade’s lair looked a bit bland. Yes, it is essentially an underground bunker, but Arcade is a pretty eccentric guy and I feel that he would have the place looking a little different than just blank steel walls, floors and ceiling.
Avengers Arena #16 is another solid entry in a very enjoyable series. This is one of the few series put out by the Big 2 that can consistently offer surprises for whoever is reading it. Avengers Arena is turning out to be the sleeper hit of Marvel NOW.