Despite my desire to drop most Marvel titles following the company's most recent soft-reboot initiative, Marvel NOW!, I find myself being sucked in by interesting creative choices being made by the company.
The most surprising for me is my sudden re-interest in the Avengers Academy redux, Avengers Arena, subtitled Murder World. My initial draw to the book has been the title's covers, and more directly, the source material to which each has alluded.
The most recent issue, #2 released today, features a literary homage. The cover by Kev Walker features Reptil, a young Avenger-in-training who can morph his body in that of any reptile (dinosaur) he wishes, hiding in the bushes wearing a conch headpiece formed out of branches and foliage. The cover is, of course, very reminiscent of the softcover edition of William Golding's classic The Lord of the Flies, still taught in the majority of American high schools (including the one in which I teach). Even if you have never seen the cover to that particular edition, the conch and large flies are enough of a clue.
This featuring of a related media reference began with the first issue (above, right) which carried an image of the cast posed in similar fashion to the cast of the 2000 Japanese-thriller Battle Royale. Since Avengers Arena: Murder World is a survival story with super powered teens trapped on an island with a "kill or be killed" directive, this nod seems natural.
If two in a row makes a pair and three a series... any guesses as to which book/movies receives its due next? No need to give it too much thought, as the source of the image is as derivative of better works as this title is of the now canceled and replaced Avengers Academy. Last hint: the next cover appears on the last page of the letters column with the title "GAME ON!" emblazoned on the page.