In the wake of rival comic book company DC's reboot, The New 52, starting in October 2012 Marvel Comics underwent their own revamp. Unlike Marvel's aforementioned competitor, the assertively titled 'Marvel NOW!' didn't serve as a reboot of Marvel's comic book titles, but was described by Marvel Editor in Chief Axel Alonso as "the next chapter in the ongoing saga of the Marvel Universe". Making significant changes to status quos, alter egos and creative teams - much like the Phase 2 Avenger movies - creators and characters alike were plunged into uncharted waters by the revamp. During the first phase of Marvel NOW! heroes have become villains, villains have become heroes; new heroes have taken up old mantles, older heroes taking up new ones. Inevitably, some of these changes have been controversial but, for the most part, Marvel NOW!'s reshuffle has been incredibly successful and has been regarded as a creative renaissance for the company. As Marvel Comics begins the transition to the next phase of the revamp (creatively titled 'All-New Marvel NOW!'), let's take a look at ten of the best titles from the first wave of Marvel NOW!
10. Avengers Arena, Volume 1
Unashamedly capitalizing on the popularity of The Hunger Games, in Avengers Arena the super-villain Arcade abducts and pits 16 teenage superheroes against each other in a kill-or-be-killed scenario, the villain taking inspiration from the aforementioned book/movie franchise, Battle Royale and Lord of the Flies. Despite drawing upon original or relatively unknown characters , writer Dennis Hopeless (an oddly apt name for the title don't you think?) quickly brings the audience up to speed with each teens history by using each issue to tell the story from a different character's point of view. This narrative decision prevents the victims of Arcade's Underworld from simply becoming cannon fodder, the series wasn't afraid of shock deaths and at times Avengers Arena is brutal, but through the considerable amount of time spent flash-backing, Hopeless suitably develops these characters to give their deaths real weight. Avengers Arena wears its influences on its sleeve (several of the title's covers openly parodying other works of dystopian fiction) and although the limited series fizzles out somewhat near the end of its run, the title had some genuine surprises along the way. And Hopeless is far from done, his sequel series, Avengers Undercover - which follows several of the Arena's survivors as they attempt to infiltrate the Masters of Evil - promises to explore the young heroes' psychological scars from the Murderworld and how their experiences will affect their life in the real (Marvel) world.