This issue has already angered a lot of people, and it will likely anger more once they learn who died in it. Before I get into this review, keep in mind that I don’t blame anyone for being angry. I’d be upset too if one of my favourite characters was killed off … and it’s possible that will happen by Arena’s end. This particular issue of Avengers Arena also has a few problems in both the writing and art. That said, this issue is fairly strong in terms of quality.
A good chunk of this fight scene is Katy attacking the rest of the Avengers Arena inhabitants with her control of the sentinel and Deathlocket. We see a bit more into her sociopathic, yet strategic mindset. We also now know what Dennis Hopeless meant when in interviews he said that we’d feel sorry for Deathlocket – she no longer has any control over her body. There are several amusing lines just before the fight, most of which involve Chase. The fight scene in this issue is also fairly intense … and it’s where most of this issue’s writing problems lie.
First off, X-23 charges toward Katy’s armory first. She just barges straight toward them in a clearing, not thinking about stealth at all. This seems to directly contradict her more strategic approach in earlier issues. She’s also supposed to be a master assassin with slight super speed – Katy shouldn’t have seen her coming. She was also defeated a bit too easily for someone who has fought Nimrod Sentinel units one on one (Second Coming) and has even fought against a Nimrod Mastermind and World War Hulk. Second, why didn’t Katy make sure X-23 was dead after her defeat? That seems to be her current strategy, and she knows that X-23 is related to Wolverine. You’d think she’d cut off her head; that’s what I’d do if I were evil.
The art is alright for the most part. The panels showing a certain injured character are appropriately gruesome, with bones sticking out and blood soaking the surrounding snow. The action is easy to follow, not that this is a complicated action scene. On the down side, there are a few too many closed eyes in this comic, and several panels where characters’ eyes are completely white. There are also a few close ups where at first glance, Nico and X-23 look a bit too similar.
Spoilers – The character death isn’t a huge surprise considering the opening pages. Nico fights the sentinel one on one, and even does alright at first. At the same time, her staff seems a bit less powerful than a magical staff of its nature should be – the sentinel should have been heavily damaged or destroyed with what she did to it. She ends up teleporting all the other kids away, and closes the opening before she’s killed by Darkhawk, who can apparently be controlled by Katy’s abilities as well. Nico died a hero, sacrificing herself to save the others. Even when she reaches the staff, she doesn’t ask for healing – she simply asks for help. Perhaps this will lead into to Christos Gage’s upcoming issue. I felt that her death was respectful to the character and it kind of makes me want to read some of the older Runaway stories. I feel sympathy for her fans – end spoilers.
Quality wise, this issue isn’t as good as most issues in this series. It also might be the one to anger the most people through the entire run, although that remains to be seen. If you’ve been enjoying this series, this is still worth reading. Quality wise this is the most problematic of the normal issues so far, and that doesn’t help soften the blow of this issue’s death.