Possibly the most interesting #1 I've read in the entire Marvel NOW! project thingy. An obvious, but non offensive, bite off the Japanese movie Battle Royale. And for you younger kids out there, The Hunger Games. This pits youngsters from both the Avengers Academy against one another in a kill or be kill game hosted by the cynical Arcade in his fun playland of Murder World. The issue opens up on day 29, Hazmat is running, hurt, through a jungle of some sort. She's talking about how her whole life, she's been a hater. First one to point out the crappiest crap in every one and every thing. As she realized she may finally be putting an end to her Haterade thirst, X-23 leaps at her. A sick ass blast to her face and all that's left is a breathing, melting, regenerating pissed off skeleton. The fried half a corpse lunges at Hazmat and stabs her threw the shoulders. Radiation coming off Hazmat burns X-23 more. Both screaming from the burning, and the stab wounds. Hazmat accepts her death, settling because "there are worse things." Now it wasn't shown that she exactly dies, and we'll find out what happens in a later issue. Cut back to Day 1, we've got Hazmat and Mettle in bed together. After some more than likely honking, they're just going through the normal bedtime talk. She's feeling normal against thanks to Mettle, or the fact that her radiation doesn't really affect him. Cute little moment where he tells her that they're doing so good. So normal, aaaaaaaand then it all goes to hell.
Next, we find all 16 kids floating in about some kind of lava pit, sleeping. Then, all woken up at once by the words of a maniac. That maniac makes his appearance to the kids, in a very badass way I might add. A bubble floats up from inside the lava holding Carrot Top, I mean Arcade inside. The bubble pops, and he lands on a newly made floor. I gotta learn how to do that, he's the Ginger Jesus. Admitting his failure by example of his "death-trap-to-dead-super hero". He decides he's going to try a new game instead of big elaborate death traps for heroes. Anything they need, food, water, they have to fight for. He let's them know that at the end of the 30th day, there will only be one left standing. And with a snap of his fingers, the newly graduated Avengers are dropped from their floating prison. So naturally, like anyone would do, some of the kids attack Arcade. He makes short quick work of them. Even launching Hazmat miles away with some Haduken looking blast. Some more kids attack and he quickly gives them the "Eff You Gumby" treatment.
This is where it gets a little twisted, Arcade tells the kids that he's not going to MAKE them kill each other. He can't technically make them do anything, but he's leave them with such hellish conditions that they'll be forced to. To reach levels that they never thought they could. Very Saw-esque. Assuring them that not all are rutheless killers, some or just cowards, and liars. Maybe even one true hero. We cut over to Mettle coming to check on Hazmat. This panel shows him walking through snow, this tells us that the world Arcade has set up has some elementally inspired areas. That's a pretty cool new idea that wasn't in the Battle Royale movie, but I wouldn't know about Hunger Games cuse well, I didn't watch it. Arcade then offers to spark the killing and committ the first murder. Except he's gonna have the kids pick who he kills. Asks them who among them is the weakest link. One out of the 16. Hazmat isn't taking this guy seriously at all. She wants to go back and finish the fight. Mettle on the other hand. Doesn't exactly agree with her. He says he doesn't care about the other 14, as long as Arcade isn't hurting her, Mettle will be fine.
Hazmat comes back and gives Arcade a nice big ol' blast from behind. With all her teenage quirkyness telling him to shut up. This sets him off a bit, enough to announce that he's found a winner. With some kind of Jedi mind trick, Arcade raises Hazmat into the air and starts draining her life bars. None of the other students do anything to help her. None making any moves towards Arcade. None trying to save her life. Then, from the cool looking lighting that's oddly set up in this bright red lave place comes Mettle. Telling Arcade he's in fact the weakest link. Obviously not, but anything to help his girlfriend. They share one last stare, everyone knowing what's to come next. Everyone but me, didn't think Arcade would full on blow Mettle up from the inside out. He Frieza'ed the ISH out of Mettle. Exploding bits of red guy flying everywhere, the blood splattered Hazmat watches in shock at where her beloved boyfriend used to be. Arcade leaves the scene with one last bone chilling line. "Oh, I always forget...welcome to Murder World." And what a welcome.
I'm VERY stoked to see where this title is going to end up. Bringing out that inner animal (and for some, outter) for these kids. Its gonna be extreme, especially if its anything like the movie its based off of. Hopeless writes a powerful script and Walker portrays that story just as strong. To all the readers out there, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Anythingelseyoucelebrate and a very Happy New Year. Here's to hoping we make it to Saturday!!!
Life's a game, kid. You're either playing it or you're losing it. - Arcade