This December, Marvel launches their answer to "Battle Royale" (or "The Hunger Games," if that's your thing) with "Avengers Arena." Helming this effort is writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Kev Walker, and the former was on the line in a conference call today to talk about putting the teen heroes of the Marvel U in mortal danger for fun and profit.
The premise involves a new Murder World created by longtime X-Men villain arcade, takes 16 teens (and Darkhawk) and pits them against one another--and Hopeless promises that someone will die. This is the second featured book for Arcade in recent years following the "Avengers Academy" crossover from a couple of years back. Hopeless says that this time around, the character is a bit more brutal than he has been in the past, and that readers will respect the new Murder World which has historically been more of a perilous inconvenience for the Marvel heroes but is now an actual mortal threat. The first issue of "Avengers Arena" will bridge Arcade's last appearance with the current series. That issue will involve young Avenger Hazmat as the POV character, but that doesn't mean she'll be the only one providing an outlook for this story (who knows if she'll even survive). In fact, he talked about swapping the POV throughout the story, offering new opportunities to show what each of the characters is going through and how they will arrive at their alliances and decisions through the story.
The new Murder World is broken into four unique climate zones and is based on a map Hopeless designed. He wanted to come up with different types of environments and potential obstacles for the teen heroes in the book, the island peppered with complicated murderous traps. But they're not the focus of the island: the characters will be more concerned with surviving one another. This all flows into Arcade's new outlook which is focused on sowing discord and distrust as opposed to trapping them in a Rube Goldbergian contraptions.
Speaking to the question of why "Avengers Arena" is an ongoing instead of a mini, Hopeless says that the book needed space to show tried and true heroes becoming willing to kill other heroes or strangers. The core of the book will be the action on the island, and it'll be a while before we start to see what's happening outside of the island, and why no one can find Arcade's new hideout.
Hopeless is aware that some fans might be anxious about some of their favorite characters could end up axed by the end of the series, but he feels that as a storytelling device, death can be effective. Citing the death of his own father, he says that it's not something he wants to shy away from in storytelling, and that he's less concerned about the early fan outcry because those critics haven't yet read the book. With that said, he shied away from including Molly from the "Runaways," feeling that she might be too young for the storyline.
As for the characters selected for the book, Hopeless says they chose characters that could believably be pushed to and beyond their limits. The troubled histories of many of the heroes here will factor into how they react on the island.
"Avengers Arena: Murder World" launches in December. You can check out art from the second issue as well as covers below:
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