The GeeksverseWeekly Reviews For 12/12/12

Weekly Reviews For 12/12/12
Published on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 by

Dennis Hopeless gets spotlighted with two books. He brings us Marvel’s version of the Hunger Games and returns Cable to his roots. Round out the reviews, we have the return of the Eternal Warrior.

Avengers Arena #1 ($2.99, Marvel Comics)

Avengers Arena #1, cover by Dave Johnson

  • Writer: Dennis Hopeless
  • Artist: Kev Walker
  • Colorist: Frank Martin
  • Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
  • Assistant Editor: Jon Moisan
  • Editor: Bill Rosemann

I’ll take Marvel Now’s relaunch over DC’s reboot any day, but one of the things that has bugged me about Marvel Now! is how so many of the launches seem storyline driven, based off the one announced storyline. Now the titles can continue, so I’m fine with being classified as an ongoing title, even if after that one storyline the creative teams change (which I hope doesn’t happen because I absolutely hate that). Cable & X-Force (reviewed below) seems based off the opening story arc but when that arc is over the book can still continue with a new direction. And that brings us to Avengers Arena. It’s the most storyline driven book of them all and I really can’t see how it gets classified as an ongoing. There’s no way this book can continue in it’s present form after this storyline wraps up. Could they bring in a next round of “contestants”? Sure, but that trick would get old very quickly.

So why is this classified as an ongoing? Even if it makes it to 24, or more, issues it’s still just one epic story.

Also, there are no Avengers in this book. Why is it called Avengers Arena?

To be honest, I never like this type of story. It always seems like a huge waste of characters to me, to sacrifice them just for the sake of making a killing story. And really, that’s what it is. Marvel can try to spin it however they want, say “there’s a story reason” all they want, but at the end of the day the storyline is “kill them and leave one standing”. I’ll follow the book because I’m interested in how it wraps up, who manages to save the day.

And more importantly I’m interested in how Hopeless manages to keep this all together and ends it.

This is the first work by Hopeless I’ve read. As far as I can remember he’s only done a limited series for Marvel and he’s now being given two big books to work on. Pretty fast raise. His work is decent. Good script, well paced story. There were some parts I didn’t like, but that’s more story related and not technical.

I really can’t see the kids standing around as Arcade chooses Hazmat as the weak link. Sure he kicked their asses, but these kids are heroes (or wanna be heroes), it would take a lot more then that for them to stand there and let Arcade kill Hazmat. I really don’t buy it from Reptyl or X-23. No way would they just stand there, not after that speech Arcade gave. Just was not buying it.

That was the weakest part, not enough reasoning given for why the kids would so quickly buy Arcade’s line. And without that, the whole thing does end up falling flat. But I’ll give it a try, just to see where Hopeless takes it.

3 out of 5 (earned points for being good technically, would have only been a 2 because the Hazmat scene makes the whole thing fall flat)

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Cable & X-Force #1 ($3.99, Marvel Comics)

Cable & X-Force #1, cover by Salvador Larroca & Frank D'Armata

  • Writer: Dennis Hopeless
  • Artist: Salvador Larroca
  • Colorist: Frank D’Armata
  • Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
  • Assistant Editor: Jordan D. White
  • Editor: Nick Lowe

I have a confession to make, I’ve always liked Cable. The Liefeld-ish Cable at least. What’s the difference? Liefeld’s Cable was a rebel. He formed X-Force which was a rebel mutant team. He didn’t get along with the other teams. You were sometimes unsure of his motivations and even though Marvel completely screwed things up with the Externals storyline (Cable originally recruited the New Mutants to help him spring Rusty Collins from the MLF. Rusty was the one he wanted, not Cannonball), the Rebel-Cable created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza (yes, I know it was Louise Simonson that is created with his co-creation, but it was Nicieza that bred life into him) was a good character. Then Marvel made him a super-hero. They got rid of what made him work. He was the “cable” to the future, coming back to the past to save the future.

So I’m glad that Rebel-Cable is back.

This is the second book I’ve ever read from Hopeless. You can see what I thought about Avengers Arena above. Cable is a much stronger book. If this is the type of work that Hopeless will do on a regular basis then I’ll be enjoying it. There are some great nuances here. Cable’s reunion with Hope? Classic. So many moments of classic Cable. Doctor Nemesis was dead-on perfect. Domino? Loved her introduction in the book and really loved that she was talking to Boom-Boom on the phone. That was a nice touch, it shows that Hopeless knows his characters history.

It was also a nice touch referencing that Domino left the X-Men, her mention of “leaving the yellow tights” hints that she left the group and helps resolves her position with the soon ending X-Men book, of which she was part of the team.

This is a nice set-up for the book. Great opening. Great pacing. And great art from Larroca, one of my favorites.

4 out of 5

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Archer & Armstrong #5 ($3.99, Valiant Comics)

Archer & Armstrong #5, cover by Patrick Zircher

  • Writer: Fred Van Lente
  • Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino
  • Colorist: Matt Milla
  • Letterer: Dave Lanphear
  • Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
  • Associate Editor: Jody Leheup
  • Editor: Warren Simons

I never read the original Valiant Archer & Armstrong series. I knew the characters, read some of their adventures in other Valiant books, but never read their own series. So this new series was my first true exposure to the characters. I’ve enjoyed Van Lente’s take on them. It’s a serious book but there is humor here, strangeness and fun. Even this issue, which is basically a lot of fighting and chasing has all the same elements. It’s an Archer & Armstrong book.

The concept of the Eternal Warrior has always appealed to me. I love the idea. Immortal, doing nothing but protecting someone and that someone changes over time? Great concept. So much story potential. Immortals alone have a ton of potential with flashbacks, as hinted and shown in this issue, but add in Gilad’s purpose and it makes for some good stories. I’m glad to see the character “return” to Valiant and hope they do more with him.

Van Lente does a good job with this issue. The basic idea could get old quick, but Van Lente’s pacing and timing on the flashbacks helps break it up. And at the same time it ratchet’s up the tension. We learn a lot about Gilad Anni-Padda. This is one driven individual.

Loved Archer admitting that he couldn’t beat Gilad. That just adds to Archer’s character.

Another solid issue of a very solid book. Valiant’s relaunch is impressive so far.

4 out of 5

Look for our Archer & Armstrong interview with Fred Van Lente coming later this week.

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