REVIEW: Avengers Undercover #1– out of the arena

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Written by: Dennis Hopeless
Art by : Kev Walker
Colors by: Jean Francois Beaulieu
Publisher by: Marvel

By Matt O’Keefe

Avengers Undercover is a direct sequel to Avengers Arena, but writer Dennis Hopeless does a great job giving readers all the necessary info in the first page. It sums up the status quo for the survivors, and encourages readers to read Arena if they haven’t yet. They should; it’s a good book. Hopeless continues to demonstrate strong character writing in Undercover. Having Hazmat interact with viewers who think of their time in the arena as a game is an excellent way to expose us to the characters’ new lives. Runaways Chase and Nico bicker on a talk show, which was well-written but hampered by Chase’s new rock star look, which looked too cartoonish to take him seriously.

The issue starts to lose steam with Death Locket and Cammi’s scenes, which largely served to repeat the sentiments of Hazmat, Chase, and Nico with different characters. Bloodstone’s quest for vengeance didn’t impress me; not a whole lot of character development there. I give a lot of credit to Hopeless for including all seven characters a spotlight, though. The cliffhanger didn’t excite me, both because of the lacking second half of the comic and because it failed to offer any new surprises.

As I was reading I found myself straining to understand what was going occurring within the panels. I think that was due to the coloring; the palette was murky enough to pull me out of the story at times. I’m a huge fan of Jean-Francis Beaulieu’s colors on the Oz books and Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird, but those titles were more lighthearted, which encouraged a lighter palette. In my opinion, Beaulieu overcompensated for the darker tone of Avengers Undercover in this issue. My enjoyment of Avengers Arena and some strong character moments are convincing enough to bring me back next month, but I’m hoping for more in both story and art in upcoming issues.

Comments

  1. Al™ says:

    Not sure why colorists go with such murky tones. Offset presses can only handle so much ink, and we find it hard to read when ‘everything’ is dark on a page.

  2. Big Roth Johnson says:

    Avengers Arena was a decent book, albeit a bit sadistic and highly derivative. I’m glad Hopeless is continuing with the “younger Marvel heroes” business, just as I enjoyed the youngster’s in Aaron’s Wolverine & The X-Men, and the various books Kindt’s been doing.

    However, this idiocy of placing “AVENGERS” in the title of a book that are in no way Avengers-related needs to stop. It clearly didn’t do much for Arena’s sales, so I see no value in continuing the brand dilution and general confusion of product. All it does is scare readers away.

  3. Snikt Snakt says:

    Avengers Academy started out strong and whimpered to its end.

    Arena was awful for the most part. And now this.

    Can’t we just retire this era and move on to the next one?!?

  4. Carter says:

    I agree on Academy but Arena was fantastic. Great characterization, story structure, and art. I wish there were a hardcover.

    And I loved Undercover. It really drove home the point of Arena about our fascination/addiction to these violent, teen-kill competitions and what it says about our general addiction to violence as entertainment.

    Plus, more Kev Walker never hurt anyone.

  5. Skottie says:

    Arena, like All-New X-Men, relied entirely on predictable cliched situations to create drama. It did nothing inventive or remotely approaching new and interesting.

    If you like stock characters acting out stock roles, it’s perfect for you. Anyone with half a brain might prefer something else.

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