The magical girl genre is light and adorable a lot of the time, but the characters from comics and TV shows like Sailor Moon, Zodiac Starforce, and Agents Of The Realm can give a proper beatdown when the circumstances call for one. Jen and Tyler Bartel emphasize the ass kicking in Chaos Arena: Crystal Fighters, a new Stela digital series about a young girl, fittingly named Stella, who discovers a magical girl fight club hidden inside the bright, cute, and boring video game Crystal Fighters. The regular game offers Stella nothing, but entering the secret world of the Chaos Arena gives her a thrill she can’t find anywhere else, and she’s eager to get her hands dirty.
Chaos Arena: Crystal Fighters is an extremely fun series, and this preview of this week’s Chapter Four showcases how the husband-and-wife creative team distinguishes Stella’s mundane reality from the thrilling spectacle of the virtual world. The opening scene at Stella’s school is dominated by gray that disappears as Stella heads home to dive into her new favorite video game, and once she logs on, there’s a surge of vibrant color that heightens the fantasy. Jen Bartel’s artwork is the main attraction of this series, and she does phenomenal work laying out the visuals so that they flow smoothly in Stela’s continuous scroll format. The action sequence at the end of this preview highlights that talent, and Chaos Arena: Crystal Fighters during those moments when the characters reveal their prowess in battle. The new chapter is available Thursday via Stela’s app, but readers curious about the series can check out the first chapter now for free.