From a quality standpoint alone, the first two issues of Avengers Arena were actually very good. The first issue turned Arcade into a legitimate villain, while the second issue did a great job at introducing Death Locket to readers. Mettle willingly sacrificed himself in the first issue so that Hazmat could live, and it’s likely we’ll see his legacy live on through her. The second issue’s death left a different kind of legacy – one where we’ll never know much about the new Red Raven or what her story is. Sure, if you hate the concept of this book you likely hated the first two issues. If you’re not attached to any of these characters before reading AA however, the first two issues were good. How does Avengers Arena 3 fare though?
This issue isn’t as good as the first two. Cammi is the central focus of this issue, and her flashbacks with Agent Brand felt a bit … forced. She’s almost portrayed as a stereotypical action movie hero, who happens to be a 13-year-old girl. Sure, her intelligence is on display as she investigates the unknown threat, but there isn’t much depth to her personality. Darkhawk has a minor role in this issue and he’s significantly more interesting, even though he only has two short scenes.
The advertised fights in the solicitations were somewhat disappointing, but that’s more a fault with the marketing than Dennis Hopeless’ writing. We don’t really see much of the Sentinel fight, and the X-23 vs. Cammi fight was over in three panels. It was nice to see X-23 work her tactical skills though – we haven’t seen much of that since X-Force volume 3.
There is a potential death scene in this issue, but it’s not entirely clear on whether the character was killed or not. Either way, it feels like a waste. He/she is a well-established character with his/her own fan base, and is potentially killed by the unknown enemy (which isn’t fully revealed in this issue) with barely any introduction. This death will likely upset some readers – be warned. It didn’t bother me too much, but that’s only because I’ve never read anything with that character before. Spoiler – Darkhawk – end spoiler.
The art is nearly perfect. The environmental work is good and the facial work is excellent. The flashback scenes have a nice dream-like blur. Even in the darker scenes, it’s always easy to tell what’s going on and which characters you’re looking at. I can’t think of any art related complaints.
While this series seems to remain character focused, this issue doesn’t do that good of a job at making us care about Cammi. Avengers Arena 3 is otherwise good from a quality standpoint, yet it’s pretty much guaranteed to anger certain readers. If you’re already a fan of any characters in Avengers Arena, you’ve likely made up your mind already. For anyone else, it’s a Battle Royale/Hunger Games type series about teenaged superheroes. If that interests you, this series is worth checking out.