My favorite characters CANNOT catch a break this week. While I’m still in shambles from watching the Red Wedding in the latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’, I go to my local comic shop to pick up the new ‘Avengers Arena’ issue only to find out that one of my top three favorites in that book bit the dust. I shouldn’t be surprised that there’s some death in this series since that’s really what you sign up for when you add it to your pull list, but that doesn’t mean that it hurts any less!

The last time we had a discussion about Dennis Hopeless’ heart-wrenching young hero story, we learned the Arcade’s motivation behind creating this new Murder World in issue seven. It was a nice buffer issue after Anachronism really pushed the game into serious play when he beheaded fellow Braddock Academy student Kid Briton in issue six.

After that, the aptly named arc ‘Game On’ began. With all the combatants gathered in the final safe zone on Murder World, tensions are high when some new secrets come to the forefront and are revealed to the group. For example, Chase is outed as the new Darkhawk and Apex is revealed to be sharing a body with her twin brother, Tim, who briefly takes over the body and fills everyone in on just how crazy his sister is.

Now, in the newest installment of the series, Katy regains control of her body and Apex runs wild on the remaining heroes once again. Because of her technopath powers, she has control of the recently deceased Juston’s Sentinel and Deathlocket, which give her the upper hand against everyone who has teamed up to take her down. But the biggest gun in this fight belongs to the magic-wielder Nico Minoru of the Runaways, so we have a classic science vs. magic showdown on our hands.

Before I get to the whole ripping my heart out part of the review, there is something that I’ve noticed that I don’t think that I’ve talked about yet. X-23 is trapped here on Murder World with her companions and the object is for only one hero to remain standing. Well, Laura has a healing factor akin to Wolverine’s. How is she not going to win this thing? In this issue, she’s the first line of defense against Apex before Nico does her thing and she gets royally whipped. Though she’s down now, she’s going to get up soon and be back to 100%. This is probably going to work out in the battle against Apex, but after that, it’s only a matter of time until she’s the one standing in the winner’s circle. Unless Hopeless has something up his sleeve to curb that mutant ability of hers, then I’m really curious about how anyone except X-23 can win this.

I chose a funny panel to include here to alleviate the pain of the ending.

With all that out of the way, I’m about to get a bit spoilery because I can’t really talk about this issue without addressing this. So once again, there are SPOILERS AHEAD!

Nico puts up one hell of a fight against Apex. Things are pretty evenly matched between them, even if it’s a three on one fight. But then the wild card is revealed to be Darkhawk, who is now Nico’s Runaways teammate, semi-love interest, and friend Chase Stein. Since his powers are technology based, Apex takes control of him and uses him to kill Nico!

Cue the heartbreak now. From the very beginning, I was upset that Nico and Chase were included in this book because their chances of survival were really slim. And now for one to fall at the hands of the other is just brutal. I appreciated that her last act was a heroic one, but seeing the last two pages where Nico is crawling to her staff takes the cake. Overwhelming sadness.

While the fanboy inside of me is crying at that outcome of this issue, the writer in me appreciates the storytelling. Hopeless isn’t killing these kids for no reason. It’s all a part of the greater story, so each death has purpose. When Chase comes to and snaps out of Apex’s control, there’s going to be hell to pay. That’s something that I totally look forward to seeing.

Though, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this is one of my favorite books that I’m picking up right now, I’d say that it falls somewhere in the middle as a book that I’m enjoying when I can afford to pick up, but if I miss an issue by a day or so, I’m not too torn up about it. However, because I need to see how Chase takes this atrocity, I don’t think I’ll be missing the next one even an hour after the store opens.

Final Score:

Avengers Arena #10
Written By Dennis Hopeless
Art By Riccardo Burchielli & Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Cover By Dave Johnson