The assassin Arcade kidnaps 16 superpowered teenagers and places them in a death match. That’s the setup for this controversial series. The winner of the games gets to live, while the losers end up dead. After kidnapping the teenagers from Avengers Academy, Runaways, and other places, Arcade explains the rules of the tournament and displays some until-now unknown powers and abilities. When he kills off one of the contestants, the rest of the team knows that Arcade means business. He forces them to fight until they die.
Unlike most people, I am not really turned off to the concept of teenagers fighting to the death. I am not turned off to it because Marvel has used the idea several times before. The Gamemaster is a villain who does it, as do Grandmaster and Mojo. As a regular Marvel reader, this is the latest in a long line of similar story lines.
My main problem with the series is that it uses the wrong villain. Arcade is not that much of a threat. He is just an assassin with an unusual way of killing people. He kidnaps his targets and kills them inside his Murderworlds, which are a series of elaborate death traps. The thing is, Arcade does not do death matches; Mojo does. Why Arcade does it now is something that will need to be explained down the line.
I do expect the series to end soon. Not because of the controversial nature of the topic, but because the premise is not a sustainable one. Readers will only tolerate a topic like this for so long. At most, it will last 24 issues, but I expect it to end sooner.
Final Thought: Negative.
For a story like this to work, the deaths need to have some weight to them. In order for that to happen, the deaths must be semi-permanent. If it were some other company, one that does not rely on death as a plot device, it might be more believable. Marvel has this tendency to bring back characters that were dead many times before. I doubt this time will be different.