“Avengers Arena” #8 from Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker is an episodic peek into the current state of the remaining cast. Each character and their group gets a handful of pages to interact and slowly move forward. There are only a few minor plot progressions in this issue, but a lot of the richness comes from seeing these characters work together and try to survive.
Unfortunately, this issue’s strength is also its primary weakness. There are too many threads to tie together. In the end, no one character gets to have a defining scene. Hopeless tries to book-end the issue with X-23, whose pages and captions have some heart, but they aren’t quite cohesive enough for the issue to meaningfully come together. In the end, the issue feels like a soap opera episode with no large factor by which to define it. There is no major moment and no hook to sell the issue, making the issue serviceable, but relatively nondescript.
Kev Walker’s unique style matched with Jason Gorder’s inks sometimes brings a quirky angle to the page, but it also creates an awkward interpersonal beat or character interpretation. Some of the faces tend to feel a little off — not as a choice, but because something is lacking. The facial emotions might not always land, but many of the action beats are kinetic and flow well. There is enough style on these pages to enjoy them, but dense interrogation yields a few fallible moments.
“Avengers Arena” #8 moves the book along, but the issue itself feels a little too widely plotted. An ensemble story like this often works better when there is a central hook. While this issue tries for one, it doesn’t quite get there. Every cast member gets some panel time, but their collective actions don’t make this issue memorable.