Avengers Arena (Dec. 2012).
Cover art by Dave Johnson.
|Publication date||December 2012 – 2013|
Avengers Arena is a comic book series published by Marvel Comics that debuted in December 2012, as part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch. The series will see 16 young heroes from the Marvel Universe and pit them against each other in a kill-or-be-killed, reality-show-like scenario on Murderworld run by Arcade. The series ended with issue 18 and has a sequel called Avengers Undercover that dealt with the survivors infiltrating the Shadow Council's Masters of Evil.
In September 2012, Marvel Comics announced that Avengers Arena would debut with a December 2012 cover date, by the creative team of Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker. The series, which takes inspiration from Battle Royale, Lord of the Flies, and The Hunger Games, has been controversial throughout its run. The series is composed of 18 issues, and will be followed by a new series called Avengers Undercover.
Sixteen teenage superheroes (consisting of Cammi, Darkhawk, Hazmat, Mettle, Nico Minoru, Reptil, Juston Seyfert and his Sentinel, Chase Stein, X-23, Apex, Nara, Kid Briton, Red Raven III, Death Locket, Cullen Bloodstone, and Anachronism) are abducted by supervillain Arcade, brought to his latest version of Murderworld, and forced to fight to the death for Arcade's enjoyment. Arcade effortlessly subdues them using incredible new powers and announces that he will start the contest off by killing one of the heroes for them, choosing Hazmat. Mettle volunteers to be sacrificed in Hazmat's place, and Arcade disintegrates him by snapping his fingers.
As the games begin, a panicking Red Raven tries to escape from the area only for her to be killed when an invisible force field breaks her neck and causes her to crash to the ground. Rebecca Ryker faces off against Hazmat and then fights Cammi soon after. Cammi gives her the nickname Death Locket. Throughout the first day, Death Locket remembers the past events that led to her origins. She joins the Braddock Academy group (consisting of Apex, Kid Briton, Anachronism, Bloodstone and Nara) despite death threats from Kid Briton and Nara. Death Locket started bonding with Apex as she introduces her to the rest of the Braddock Academy.
As the young heroes sleep for the night, they are stalked by an unidentified cybernetic creature. Juston is attacked and the Sentinel he is working on folds around him apparently crushing him. The story is told by Cammi, who is hunting the mysterious hunter. After a brief fight she teams up with Darkhawk to find the stalker. Cammi is ambushed by X-23 who has been hunting the mysterious stalker as well. Disappointed in herself, Cammi pushes herself into an intense training session. Darkhawk is seemingly injured by the cybernetic creature when it manipulates his armor and tears his transformation amulet from his chest regressing him back to Christopher Powell.
After several days had passed, Arcade seemingly shut off the food supply making survival more difficult. Chase and Nico had survived by creating a tree bearing magical fruit, but decided to team up with the children of the Avenger's Academy. The alliance stabilized until Reptil was severely injured by a large blast of fire from the woods. X-23 and Hazmat blamed Chase and killed the fruit-bearing tree. Nico decided she couldn't trust Chase anymore and left him alone in the woods, where he stumbled upon Darkhawk's amulet that burrowed itself into his chest and transformed him into the new Darkhawk.
Arcade makes the weather conditions hazardous in Murderworld, but notes there are safe zones at the edge of each quadrant for the competitors to rest, as well as food and medicine in Quadrant 2. Nico saves Cammi from an avalanche by using a "snow globe" spell and Chase busts her free. As gratitude, she offers to teach them survival skills in exchange for some firepower. Cammi also notes the death toll is at four, with two officially dead and two missing. Meanwhile, there is discord in the Braddock Academy's ranks as Anachronism and Kid Briton get into an argument. An earthquake then separates Bloodstone and Anachronism from Apex, Nara, Kid Briton, and Death Locket. Hazmat and X-23 try to bring Reptil to the edge of quadrant 2 to get medical supplies for Reptil's burns. At that point, Reptil wakes up and Hazmat is overjoyed. When Hazmat and X-23 tell Reptil that Chase attacked him, Reptil clears Chase's reputation, saying that Death Locket was the one who attacked him. Meanwhile, Death Locket goes dormant as her cybernetics take over and she blasts Nara off a cliff and into the ocean. Kid Briton is enraged by this and tries to kill her until Apex orders him not to, revealing that she knew about his affair with Nara back at the Braddock Academy and that "we're here now and I'm done sharing."
Reptil, Hazmat, and X-23 are still trying to get to the edge of quadrant 2 for medical supplies. Reptil is finally feeling well enough to walk and shape-shift. Hazmat initially tells him not to expend the energy and that they will leave no one behind. Just then, Hazmat activates a cloud of smoke, engulfing the three. When the smoke dissipates, it's revealed that the smoke is trigger scent and X-23 goes feral, attempting to kill Hazmat and Reptil. Reptil shapeshifts into a Pterodactyl and evacuates Hazmat away from X-23. Arcade then comments on how his new trigger scent was a success and how amazed he was that X-23 would kill anyone with it on them. Nara, Anachronism, and Bloodstone manage to survive falling into the chasm and come to the conclusion that Apex is manipulating Death Locket and Kid Briton to her own ends. The trio is then teleported by Arcade to the supply cache at Quadrant 2 just as Apex, Death Locket, and Kid Briton arrive. Nara and Apex start arguing and Apex confirms that she was the one who ordered Death Locket to attack Nara. Kid Briton tries to intervene as Nara continues calling him a "weak puppet." An irate Kid Briton attempts to kill Nara for insulting him only to be beheaded by Anachronism.
Arcade's rise to power
Arcade then begins to reflect on the events that led up to him kidnapping the teenage superheroes. Throwing a party at his estate for his birthday, Arcade realized it was made fun of him by the super-villains community and was wounded by his new assistant Miss Coriander after having asked her to try to kill him. He then gives his Murder Island to her and flees to his bar called the Hole in the central parts of Bagalia where he was burgled by Constrictor (who was one of the villains who had made fun of Arcade). Arcade defeated him with a large hammer-like trap and possibly killing him. Arcade decided to create a new project inspired by "a couple of children's books" he read while in prison. Helped by Miss Coriander, he created a new Murderworld in Antarctica and was provided with powers from cybernetics, magic stuff, Stark Industries tech and gamma radiation.
Juston Seyfert is revealed to have survived the attack from the cybernetic creature, but is now paralyzed below the waist due to the injuries sustained when the Sentinel crashed. Distraught at the loss of his best friend, Juston salvages the remains of the Sentinel and creates a suit of battle armor which he uses to attack Death Locket. After Nico Minoru and Chase Stein become involved in the battle, Chase Stein transforms into the new Darkhawk and attacks Juston.
In a flashback, it was shown that Apex is actually the twins Katy and Tim who ended up sharing a body following an experiment by their parents gone wrong. Since then, both of them were unaware that they share the same body. The battle between Chase Stein as Darkhawk and Juston Seyfert was aborted when Tim's technopathic powers and the group's vote for Tim/Katy's life or death. Juston was among those who voted for death. When Tim reverted to Katy, Juston is murdered by Apex who breaks his neck and then steals his Sentinel.
After being injured by Apex, Nico sacrifices herself by staying behind in order to get some of the other survivors to safety. She is killed by Chase and Juston Seyfert's Sentinel (both of whom were under Apex's control). As she dies, Nico quotes to Apex "People like to tell you everyone dies alone. I always thought that was a poetic way of saying mortality is inevitable. Or death is scary. But I'm calm now. I can't feel anything but the cold. This is the end. And right at the moment...it's not the dying that keeps me dragging myself through the snow. It's the alone." Before she dies, Nico was able to formulate a last spell (Help).
Reptil turns into a sea dinosaur in order to hunt some sharks for him and Hazmat to dine upon. The remaining teenage heroes catch up to them and are invited to have shark steaks with them. Cullen Bloodstone confronts Reptil about their camping out on the beach while a war's going off elsewhere. Cammi interjects to agree with Cullen Bloodstone before saying she's heading out to either find Nico or avenge her. Reptil heads back to shake Hazmat out of her funk. The issue ends with everyone agreeing to go back out into Murderworld.
The Staff of One resurrects Nico Minoru where it used her massive blood loss as a sacrifice to grant her enough power. Nico used this power to disarm Deathlocket, knockout Chase/Darkhawk, destroy the Sentinel, and defeat Apex by trapping her underground. While underground, Deathlocket came across an underground facility where she found rooms of food and medicine, an aquarium and a mysterious room containing the bodies of Christopher Powell, Juston Seyfert, Kid Briton, Mettle and Red Raven.
Molly Hayes (of the Runaways) is the only one to notice that Nico and Chase are missing and turns to Henry Pym for help. The rest of the Marvel Universe, for whatever reason, does not think twice about the mass disappearances. After speaking with Wolverine, Captain Britain and Maria Hill, Henry Pym goes to investigate the disappearances. Unbeknownst to Henry Pym, Arcade had replaced the captive teens with Life Model Decoys to prevent anyone from becoming suspicious of their disappearance. This alongside the coaching of Tigra caused Henry Pym to drop his investigation.
The remaining teens have gone throughout Murderworld to find each other. Cullen Bloodstone gets frustrated and attacks Anachronism forcing Cammi to try to calm him down while Nara led Anachronism away. Cammi convinces Cullen to tell her about his 'ugly secret'. It is revealed that Cullen spent 2 years trapped in an alternate dimension where he was possessed by an unknown creature and in order to keep the creature at bay he must keep his family ring on at all times. Hazmat and X-23 encounter a Mettle robot with Trigger Scent causing X-23 to go on the attack. X-23 seriously injures Hazmat leaving her fate unknown. Aiden is upset about Cullen, wondering what his problem is when Nara reveals that she has a big crush on him. Trigger scent surrounds them and X-23 comes attacking them Aiden and Nara run to warn Cullen and Cammi but, Nara falls and Aiden tries to help her up leaving them both vulnerable. Cammi attempts to stop X-23, but her attempts are useless. Cullen decides only he can stop her. Upon removing his family's ring, Cullen transforms into a monstrous form in order to save them.
As Cullen Bloodstone's monster form continues to fight X-23, Cammi, Nara and Anachronism look for Cullen's ring. Anachronism tells the group that Cullen is the form of a Glaratrox (which is a parasitic monster that engulfs someone's soul and feeds on fear). When the ring is knocked into the ocean, Nara ends up diving into the ocean to find it. Nara recalls when her parents were part of Namor's Royal Guards who were actually on Attuma's side. Her parents ended up killed as Namor tells Nara to trust herself. Upon going to the surface world, Nara is enrolled at the Braddock Academy. Back in the present, Anachronism tells the group about what Cullen told him to do in the event that Cullen loses control of himself. Nara emerges from the ocean with the ring which attracts Cullen's Glaratrox form who ends up killing her. Cullen's Glaratrox form is subdued by Chase Stein, Nico Minoru and Reptil enough to regress back to Cullen. Cammi tells him Nara saved him and Cullen looks up to pay the favor, only to see Nara dying in Anachronism's hands.
Arcade speaks to his robot about the progress in the teenage heroes' fight against each other. Anachronism ends up attacking Cullen Bloodstone in retaliation for Nara's death as Cammi tries to break up the attack. Reptil states that they should help as Nico tells him "no." Cammi ends up resorting to blasting Anachronism to make him stop. Meanwhile, Deathlocket and Apex end up going further into the lair where they are attacked by Arcade. During the fight, Christopher Powell (who is revealed to still be alive) is awakened when Deathlocket releases him. Christopher then attacks Arcade and manages to knock him out.
As chaos ensues in Murderworld, Anachronism attacks X-23 only to be attacked by Reptil. Cammi battles Chase Stein where he steals the Darkhawk Amulet from him and becomes "Cammihawk" to stop Nico from killing Cullen Blootstone. In Arcade's lair, Apex, Deathlocket and Christopher corner Arcade who ends up teleporting away. When Apex tries to hack Arcade's computers, Arcade talked Apex into letting the game play out in order to position herself as the sole survivor. Apex uses her ability to take over Deathlocket's systems and makes her attack Christopher. Although Apex plans to become Queen of Murderworld, an overloading Hazmat threatens to destroy it.
As Hazmat is close to exploding, Reptil swims her out to sea so that the explosion can't harm anyone. The explosion causes everyone to stop fighting each other. Apex then unleashes sand monsters, giant wasps, and other hazards to attack them. As Deathlocket breaks free, Apex's Tim side was able to take control so that Deathlocket can fight back. Tim tells Deathlocket that the only way to defeat Katy is to shoot their body while he's in control. Deathlocket initially refuses, but she shoots Apex off-screen and shuts down Murderworld. Afterwards, the surviving teenagers are rescued by S.H.I.E.L.D., Wolverine, Henry Pym, and Captain Britain. Reptil's corpse is fished out of the water by a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent. One week later, Arcade is shown in a bathrobe within one of his safehouses where he has uploaded the footage of the Murderworld fights on YouTube. While on a talk show, Dr. Cliff Vanloch talks in his interview about his opinion of the abductions of the teenage superheroes and states that the adult superheroes are mainly to blame for what befell some of the teenage superheroes.
|Character||Real Name||Team Affiliation||Death|
|Hazmat||Jennifer Takeda||Avengers Academy|
|Mettle||Ken Mack||Killed by Arcade in Avengers Arena #1.|
|Darkhawk||Christopher Powell||(solo)||M.I.A. in Avengers Arena #3. Corpse was later shown in issue #12. Revealed to be alive in issue #16.|
|Anachronism||Aiden||The Braddock Academy|
|Apex||Katy Bashir / Tim Bashir||Killed by Deathlocket in Avengers Arena #18.|
|Kid Briton||Brian Braddock||Killed by Anachronism in issue #6.|
|Nara||Nara||Killed trying to stop a rampaging Cullen in issue #15.|
|Nico||Nico Minoru||Killed by Apex controlling Darkhawk in Avengers Arena #10. Resurrected by her Staff of One in issue #12.|
|Death Locket||Rebecca Ryker||(none)|
|Juston Seyfert||Juston Seyfert||(none)*||Killed by Apex in Avengers Arena #9 (May 2013).|
|Red Raven||Dania||(none)||Killed upon colliding with the invisible force-field in issue #2.|
*characters were featured as part-time students in Avengers Academy later in that series
Death Locket and the students from the Braddock Academy were created by Hopeless and Walker just for Avengers Arena
|Title||Material collected||Pages||Publication Date||ISBN|
|Avengers Arena Vol. 1: Kill or Die||Avengers Arena #1-6||144||May 2013||978-0785166573|
|Avengers Arena Vol. 2: Game On||Avengers Arena #7-12||144||September 2013||978-0785166580|
|Avengers Arena Vol. 3: Boss Level||Avengers Arena #13-18||136||January 2014||978-0785189282|
- "Marvel NOW!". Marvel.com. 5 July 2012. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- Sunu, Steve (13 September 2012). "Hopeless and Walker Populate "Avengers Arena" For Marvel NOW!". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- "Avengers Arena Cancelled With November’s #18". Comicbook.com. 2013-08-15. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- "Survive". comicbookresources.com. 6 September 2012. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- Avengers Arena #1 (December 2012)
- Avengers Arena #2
- Avengers Arena #3
- Avengers Arena #4
- Avengers Arena #5
- Avengers Arena #6
- Avengers Arena #7
- Avengers Arena #8
- Avengers Arena #9
- Avengers Arena #10
- Avengers Arena #11
- Avengers Arena #12
- Avengers Arena #13
- Avengers Arena #14
- Avengers Arena #15
- Avengers Arena #16
- Avengers Arena #17
- Avengers Arena #18