Marvel has given The Beat readers the first peak at the cover to Avengers Arena #2. The art is by Chris Bachalo.

As you’ll recall, AVENGERS ARENA is a Battle Royale homage that pits various young superheroes in a Hunger Games-like battle to the death. The first issue comes out in December. Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker are the regular team.

EDIT: as pointed out in the comments, this is an homage to the great Barron Storey’s cover for LORD OF THE FLIES:


While I should have ponted this out earlier, I’m sure Marvel acknowledges the homage nature of this—in fact that’s why they sent it to the Beat.

BTW, as mentioned in the comments, yes this is obviously a riff on Battle Royale/Hunger Games/Lord of the Flies. Comics have always used familiar tropes, trends and genres as the basis for new series. Razorback is the one I always think of.


  1. Is Barron Storey mentioned anywhere???? Is Marvel giving credit or PAYING the original artist??? Is this a bad rip off??? Can you guys AT LEAST mention lord of the flies or Storey or anything?!?!?

  2. Yup, first thing I saw was Barron’s cover.

    With the flies in there, it is an obvious homage to Storey’s work. Let’s hope they will be equally as obvious with assigning the credit to him.

  3. I just don’t understand the point of this series. It smacks of bandwagon jumping (Hunger Games, as mentioned above) and needless killing off of characters. Is that all people at the big two can think to do with characters who were recently cancelled? They can’t just let them go back into the toybox for a while? It’s a shame that this is how they’re wasting the characters of Avengers:Initiative/Avengers Academy (and Runaways).

  4. The baseball stitching and ‘AA’ on the red stencil is distracting. I think of those beef quality stamps. Otherwise nice cover art.

  5. Am I the only one that’s sick of homage covers? If they’re not referencing some pop culture image, they’re referring to a previous comic book cover. To me that just marginalizes comics as derivative and devoid of original ideas.

    This is not a bad-looking cover (and I’ve always liked that Barron Storey cover, too), but the trend–which has been going on forever–is to me SOOOO played out.

  6. >> I just don’t understand the point of this series. It smacks of bandwagon jumping >>

    Bandwagon jumping is what publishers do.

    If it wasn’t for bandwagon-jumping, there’d have been no SHIELD, no Ka-Zar, no Krypto. Heck, no Batman, since he was created because that Superman fella was doing well and they wanted more.

    The Fatal Five, in LEGION, were bandwagon-jumping. So was KAMANDI. So were Luke Cage, Shang-Chi and Iron Fist. Plus lots more.

    Comics used to do plenty of bandwagon-jumping — it’s why Cleopatra shows up all over the place around the time the Elizabeth Taylor CLEOPATRA came out. One of the effects of it was that comics regularly got an infusion of current pop-culture, which kept the hero lines to some degree fresh and modern. It was in the 1980s when comics stopped being so responsive to popular culture — Marvel and DC let others hop on the Turtles bandwagon, didn’t bother to hop on the Pokemon or Sailor Moon bandwagons and mostly let Harry Potter drift by. Back in those days, I used to gripe that the superhero comics companies had decided they were all about maintaining and caretaking the universes rather than adding to them by boldly copying whatever was out there worth copying and putting their own spin on. It flabbergasted me that when Xena and Hercules were popular on TV, Marvel execs said there was no point to doing a Hercules comic; he wasn’t a popular character. In a smaller way, it baffled me that while X-Files were popular, Marvel didn’t dust off Skull the Slayer (a series about a federal employee named Scully who got got up in weird inexplicable phenomena) and retool it for the present day.

    Bandwagon-jumping is all about doing what the mass audience has shown they like. And it’s not like YA publishing hasn’t chased the success of whatever’s burning up the YA charts. Maybe if comics did more of it, they’d have had less trouble staying a mass medium.


  7. Heck, Chris Claremont’s acclaimed X-Men run has plenty of bandwagon-jumping. The Brood, Japan, ninjas, Australia, etc. He wasn’t shy about incorporating things that were trendy in pop culture.

  8. The problem with Marvel’s bandwagon-jumping is that the premise of the storyline is distorted because of the use of Marvel characters. The Hunger Games series, for example, is set in a dystopian future; it’s genre fiction. The basis for AVENGERS ARENA is apparently the old Marvel villain, Arcade, kidnapping teens and forcing them to fight each other. I’ve bought AVENGERS ACADEMY, but I’ll stay away from AVENGERS ARENA, just because the premise is so damned artificial. I didn’t think much of Arcade when he was in Claremont’s UXM, and making him a “sick freak” for the purpose of the miniseries doesn’t make him any more interesting.

    The Brood being inspired by ALIEN didn’t make them automatically terrible, but instead of aliens bursting out through humans’ chests, the Brood infection transforms people. That might work on a comic book “silly science” level, in that the infected heroes don’t die and can change back, but that’s the only level that it does work on. It’s as far removed from SF as an episode of The Powerpuff Girls.

    Stories being inspired by other genre fiction stories is fine, as long as the stories work.


  9. Alas, this just reminds me that I could be rereading a work of fiction guaranteed to be better than the material paying homage to it.

  10. Kev Walker?!?!? I love his art and I’m missing him on Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers already – but so far he is the only positive for me. Haven’t heard of the writer and don’t know the characters. So the fact they are fighting each other and could die??? …. Not really caring either way.

  11. Apparently Marvel’s “bold new cover designs” will simply be pop culture/movie poster/book cover riffs. Very creative, Marvel. ;)

    So far we’ve got Lord of The Flies, The Usual Suspects, what’s next…

  12. ؟ Hey, Marvel! Very creative, using other media for your covers! Or are you copying Gen 13? (Note to fans: stop complaining. This sort of thing has been going on for decades. Which has more “variant” covers: Action #1 or Fantastic Four #1?)

    Iconic designs inspire others.

    Art does that. So long as the original artist is credited, I have no qualms. Sometimes, the design is used to comment on the story, sometimes ironically or satirically.

    As for bandwagon jumping?
    Try this string:
    * Justice Society is created. (Extra credit: show the influences and inspirations for each JS member. Extra extra credit will be given for the influences which inspired the non-comic book characters which influenced DC’s superheroes.)
    * Golden age superheroes become outdated.
    * Golden age superheroes are updated.
    * Those heroes form the Justice League.
    * Martin Goodman plays golf with an exec from Independent News, and discovers how well JLA is selling.
    *Martin Goodman then instructs Stan Lee to create a superhero comic.
    *Using Lee’s outline, Jack Kirby re-creates “Challengers of the Unknown” for Marvel, with some classic Atlas monsters thrown in for fun.

    As noted elsewhere, the Hunger Games / Battle Royale debate has triggered much conversation about sources and influences. Suzanne Collins says she was inspired by reality television, the war in Iraq, and the myth of Theseus.

    Battle Royale could be influenced by Lord of the Flies and The Long Walk (and Survivor).

    Gladiatorial combat is a common theme in fiction. Kirk vs. Gorn, Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, Planet Hulk, Warlord, Secret Wars, Contest of Champions, Amalgam…

    Heck, DC already used the Hunger Games motif over in Teen Titans, during the rather short “The Culling” mini-event.

    Now, why do I suspect that one of the entrants in the Arena will be the illegitimate child of Arcade and White Rabbit?

  13. “Note to fans: stop complaining.”

    No. Not stop.

    Bandwagon jumping and derivative stuff back in those halcyon days of yore seemed beneficial to the comics companies way back when. Especially when writers and artists were using it as a springboard to develop something new. The cover depicted above really doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

  14. I’m really confused that Lord of the Flies lumped in with Battle Royale/Hunger Games as “Teen vs. teen competition” (in Rosemann’s words). The stories are altogether different. The latter are about kids forced to battle to the death for entertainment, the former is about marooned children who without an authority figure lose their humanity. No external figure is provoking Ralph and Jack into combat for their own amusement.

    Even “The Beast” that the boys hunt is a normal sow that is inflated in their imaginations. This is a far cry from the governments sending out additional threats to instigate combat. Anyone who has read the Lord of the Flies has seen what impact an actual authority figure would have on the situation.

  15. What an awesome cover.

    The cover to Action #1 was a swipe. So why can’t this be? And this isn’t even a swipe — its an homage. Bachalo, fantastic as always.

    I forgot about those Gen-13 covers.

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