“Avengers Arena” #6 spreads the love around to a dozen characters courtesy of Dennis Hopeless’ writing and Kev Walker’s art. Those characters are broken off into triads as they seek to claim supplies, taking the story on a video-game-style adventure twist. There are even floating markers declaring “Safe Zone 3” and “Winner” to add to the game motif.
Within Arcade’s game itself, manipulations among the teen heroes are revealed and sides are swayed in response to those revelations. All of this leads to yet another apparent fatality at the end of “Avengers Arena”#6. On the way to the conclusion of this issue, Hopeless sets up Anachronism as the point-of-view character, giving us full access to his thoughts. Paired with the Atlantean Nara and fellow Braddock Academy student Cullen Bloodstone, Anachronism’s past is given some light including his grudge against Kid Briton. That sets up a confrontation between this triad and Briton’s own group that includes Death Locket and Apex.
Before those six characters converge, a tidal wave washes over the Atlantean and her teammates, giving Kev Walker an optimal opportunity to draw some underwater adventures as well as the trio emerging from the depths. A soaked Cullen Bloodstone, splashing out of the waters with his sleeves hanging down over his hands looks like something I’m certain many readers have felt, whether they were soaked in a downpour on the way home from school, knocked into a pool in full clothes or simply soaked by an amusement park ride. Walker’s knack for delivering such details makes the visual experience of this title. He doesn’t stop there, drawing a super-cool looking Pteranodan-ish thing that Reptil transforms into during X-23’s berserker rage. Some spots are more of a collaboration between Walker and colorist Frank Martin, Jr., but for the most part the two work well with Walker setting the visual tone for this comic.
While “Avengers Arena” is essentially the same concept as “Threshold,” this book clicks as Hopeless elects a new character to serve as the point of view for the readers in each issue. That focus helps this book to move forward, provides some background on the narrator and gives the reader more substance to each individual. Anachronism’s frustration is believable, as is Nara’s fury. Many of these characters had little (or no) previous or recent exposure prior to this series, but Hopeless, Walker and Vitti have constructed a cast of characters that continues to find ways to hook readers, despite the unfortunate fate they all potentially share. “Avengers Arena” #6 apparently adds to the body count from this title, but not before giving readers a little more to care about, especially with Arcade set to steal the show next issue.