Issue 10 saw the death of Nico, and probably enraged more fans than any other issue in this series yet. It was also the weakest in the main series as it had several noticeable problems in the storytelling. Still, it did Nico’s character justice as she saved everyone else’s lives and held her own to the very end. And then she resurrects at the start of this issue with a rather insane power boost.
That wasn’t a spoiler – it was in the preview released six days ago. The rest of this comic is an issue-long fight scene between Super Nico and Apex’s technological slaves. It’s a brutal fight scene that showcases both characters well, and it’s complete with great art, great use of the health bars and some good commentary from Arcade himself. The promised plot twist at the end is also very intense, and there are already a lot of theories showing up on comicbookresources’s forums. I won’t mention any theories in this review though – that would spoil this issue, and I don’t like spoiling things in my reviews.
I’ve read a few complaints about how Nico’s staff works in this issue, but having little knowledge of the Runaways outside of Avengers Academy and Arena, I shouldn’t comment on it. However, the weakest part of the issue for me is Apex’s internal monologue. It feels a bit cliché as she wonders whether she’s the villain or not. It’s an interesting idea, but so much more could have been done with it. There’s no sense of guilt, repressed or not. Neither is there any sign of a lack of empathy – just a character who tells herself she’s the only one “playing by the rules”. I should also mention that this is the most misleading cover of the week – Hazmat doesn’t appear in this issue at all.
Just because Nico is alive again, this issue probably won’t win over any of Arena’s detractors. Still, this is a fairly solid issue in terms of writing quality. Despite the issue long fight scene, there’s still room for both character and story development. And of course, an ultimate battle between technology and magic. So if you’ve been enjoying AA so far, this is an easy recommendation. Also, the next issue is being written by Avengers Academy’s Christos Gage – that should be good.