Covering Issues #1-6
The really interesting thing about this series is not so much the characters or the survival-for-one concept, but rather how the reader really gets a chance to see what goes on in the head of particular characters as they try to deal with the situation around them. While I have no doubt this is very much an evil scheme for enjoyment's sake on the part of Arcade, it is allows me to see just what a character is able to endure when faced with the prospect of having to take out other seemingly heroic individuals—as well as eventually their own friends. It is a rather classic scenario, turning individuals against themselves so they can’t work together to oppose the same threat, but it is done in such a way that it doesn’t seem stale or clichéd (and that’s saying something coming from me). The writing that Hopeless has done has proved that he is not his namesake, even though the overall situation of these characters seems to work well with the concept.
It is good to see some of the characters I have come to enjoy reading back in print after the end of such titles as Avengers Academy and Runaways, and I do like discovering some new ones that I have not yet read about before, but I am still unsure of what the actual point of the arena is. Arcade makes no mention as to why he has brought them all there, only to entertain, and why specifically did he bring these individuals and some of the other young heroic types out there, such as Patriot from the Young Avengers team—if anyone would have made a great subject for manipulation, he’d be the one to try it out on given his already manipulative past. Likewise, I would have enjoyed seeing Spider-Girl or Nomad around, though somehow I also can’t see them as being so bloodthirsty as to even consider going up against some of their companions.
A major problem I see with this series, however, is that it doesn’t seem to have much in the way of future usage; it has nowhere it can really go. Once everyone either dies or escapes, that’s the end of the series, and while it can probably be stretched to last a while, I don’t see it being a central core of the new Marvel 616 universe the way Fantastic Four or All-New X-Men are. I also am not that fond of the title; Avengers Arena gives the suggestion that these individuals are part of one or more Avengers team, but aside from those taken from the now-defunct Avengers Academy line, there’s no direct correlation to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Hopefully, the creative team will pull some big, but believable, rabbits out of their hats to get the series to move forward in a long-term capacity.