Here we take a look at two stories which are greatly underrated. Why you ask? Because they share one thing in common, they are tied to the same format as such popular stories like Battle Royale and Hunger Games. Considering how many other stories take concepts from each other, these books shouldn’t be dismissed because people have to kill each other. It’s not like that, it never is unless you only look at the stories on the surface. All of them take the time to explore these characters in ways writers have not in the past. New, old, doesn’t matter, it’s how the world around them twists them that creates the story. The main focus on this concept here is Marvel’s “Avengers Arena, and BOOM! Studios “Deathmatch”.
Sixteen teenage superheroes (consisting of Cammi, Darkhawk, Hazmat, Mettle, Nico Minoru, Reptil, Juston Seyfert and his Sentinel, Chase Stein, X-23, Apex, Nara, Kid Briton, Red Raven, Death Locket, Cullen Bloodstone, and Anarchronism) are abducted by supervillain Arcade and brought to his latest version of Murderworld that is somewhere in Antarctica. The heroes are required to kill each other for Arcade’s enjoyment. We all know just by the cover of the book that his main influence would be Battle Royale, but even then we know that there is always more to it than just killing. These are all teenage heroes who have troubled pasts, nothing to lose, and everything to gain from their decisions.
What has been delivered so far is that it’s not just murdering of young adult heroes. There is a story and a reason for everything occurring which as we can tell will be unravel as time progresses. We see how they develop into heroes. Whether they die or not is irrelevant. It’s about making the tough choices that question who people like them are as people. Hopeless was able to put them in a situation where the main story questions everybody’s morality. A question as to what we are willing to do and what we are unwilling to do when our backs are against the wall. Then everything comes down to “Where do we cross the line?”
The one thing about this book that stands out the most is the fact that it constantly challenges where you stand with your sympathies. Nobody is completely innocent, not everyone there is pure of heart. It’s not about the style of the book, more so about the substance. That substance comes from the twists and character development. Leave aside any and all judgement about them being killed off or ignored for future use. It’s the story progression that matters most.
When considering this type of storytelling, the general consensus is that they are just killing each other. This issue alone has shown why that is not the case and why it never has been. We see how everyone, heroes and villains have lost what made them who they are since they first step foot in the prison. Self-respect, conviction, heart, love, humanity, all things that shape the characters here and these fights have stripped them of this. The one theme you could pick up from this entire series so far is that nothing is as it seems. Heroes, rules, the game itself, there’s always so much more than what you think you know and that is what keeps this story engaging. Always keeps that wheel turning in your head to try to make sense of what’s going on while anticipating what twist or loss will be thrown at you next. Loyalties are tested and so is their humanity. This is a story which shows how far a hero can fall and so far that is what he see and what you want to get out of this is how that one or few can rise to the occasion.
As time is running out for these heroes, Deathmatch shows us how the heroes start to crumble as their backs are against the wall. Not only are they losing numbers in battles they cannot avoid, losing numbers to the many villains the heroes are stuck with mutually, more so to their attempts at escaping, but overall to a force that is so powerful that even the arena is powered to keep it contained.
Between the fights and them trying to figure out the situation they’re in you find yourself really pulled into this story. Sure some of the fights seem rushed, but you wouldn’t want to waste too much time on fights that don’t have a major impact on the conflict at hand. Everything no matter how small works as a piece of a puzzle, and as a layered story it manages to remain on track while diving into what makes these characters tick. Normally you’d expect spectacle over substance in a book like this though Jenkins manages to take advantage of both.
As the title says, these are more than just glorified violence. There’s much more to these stories than this and the writers realize this, they would not give you a story that centers around something that demeans their characters. It’s about the emotional impact, moral, you are supposed to be left feeling engaged to the point where you want to know what happens next and see what really lies within these character’s hearts. Honestly if you want glorified violence, just pick up Deadpool, least you’d get a laugh out of it at the same time.