Now, it does not really matter what Marvel tries to do in some of its current series. Nothing, no death, is going to top the death of Robin number seventeen or eighteen or whatever; Damien Wayne.
Which is part of the reason why I have found Avengers Arena so troubling as a series. Over the last decade, Marvel has spent a lot of time building up a new generation of heroes in the form of the Runaways, the Young Avengers and the Academy cast, the new Teen Brigade and the Young Masters; not to mention stand-alones like Sentinel; and now at the hands of Dennis Hopeless (that’s really your name?), they are getting bumped off one by one.
In the first issue, we saw the death of Mettle, later followed it seems by the death of Darkhawk. Now, with the Raptor amulet it will be easy enough to see another Darkhawk, but the same cannot be said for Mettle, who, as one letter writer put it in the latest issue, was the return of the original, kind-hearted Colossus. After all, our favourite Russian X-Man has become so dark and brooding in recent years it would not surprise me if he were to don a Batman costume.
Damien Wayne was a little snot, even worse than Jason Todd. Mettle was a galaxy removed from that.
With the deaths seen so far in Arena, I have felt very little emotional impact, other than that which I wrote about above. What a waste. This is not to say the title is not well written, it is. The interactions between the young heroes are very well written, considering the contrived Hunger Games-esque backdrop they are forced to parade before.
Taking another title as an example, the aptly named Deathmatch from BOOM, now there I expect to see heads roll every few pages. Yet the sacrifice of characters who are complete strangers to me in these pages seems more poignant than the deaths of characters for whom I have forked out many dollars over the years. In fact, if you are limited in those dollars for comics, you could not do much better for what sounds like a facile read but actually delivers the depth that readers had hoped to see in say Countdown: Arena or way back in the Contest Of Champions.
In fact, I want to see a lot more of Paul Jenkin’s Deathmatch characters. So much so, that I’m not sure that I mind the younger Marvels dropping like flies.