Stop me if you’ve heard this premise before: a malevolent individual (or totalitarian regime) assembles a group of teenagers and traps them in a controlled environment, where they must battle each other to the death until only one remains. If you said it sounded like the controversial Japanese film Battle Royale, you’d be right. If you said that was the plot of the worldwide phenomenon known as The Hunger Games, you’d be right again. And now, you can add…a Marvel Comics series?
Yep, that’s right kids. The higher-ups at Marvel looked at the Hunger Games’ massive book sales and box office grosses in the key 14-34 demographic, and said, “Hey, we’ve got this villain Arcade who creates these elaborate “Murderworld” environments that he traps heroes in all the time, and we’ve got all these random teenage heroes running around whose books are cancelled, and we have nothing to do with them. Let’s stick them all in a new comic, slap the title Avengers Arena on it, and get us some of that sweet, sweet Hunger Games cash!”
At least series editor Bill Rosemann acknowledges the fact that he’s ripping off Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, even if he tries to justify it by name-dropping some other older stories and claiming this kind of thing can be traced back to ancient times:[quote]”Throughout history, societies have sent their young adults against one another in competition, whether that’s in war, sports or “American Idol. Likewise, art has examined this phenomenon of the older generation sacrificing the younger generation — and also of young warring gangs wanting to prove who’s #1 — in everything from the myth of Theseus vs. the Minotaur to Lord of the Flies to Battle Royale to Starship Troopers to Survivor to Hunger Games. Teen vs. teen competition is as old as storytelling — but now it’s time to give it the Marvel twist.”[/quote]
The lineup of teen Marvel characters that are set to start killing each other in Avengers Arena come December includes Darkhawk, Hazmat, Mettle, Reptil, Juston and his Sentinel, X-23; Chase and Nico from Runaways; Cammi from Annihilation, and a mysterious new group of characters calling themselves the “Braddock Academy.” Wow. So, I guess I’ll be rooting for Arcade then.