Avengers Arena #11

Issue Date: 
August 2013
Story Title: 
Game On – part 4

Dennis Hopeless (writer), Riccardo Burchielli (artist), Jean-Francois Beaulieu (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Michael Del Mundo (cover artist), Jon Moisan (assistant editor), Bill Rosemann (editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Ever since Reptil was injured, he and Hazmat have been hanging out at a beach with her refusing any attempt of his to talk her into rejoining the battle. Their peace is disrupted when Cammi, Cullen, Anachronism, Nara and X-23 are teleported to the beach by Nico. The other are horrified by what they consider their cowardice and decide to leave to help Nico. Reptil finally gets Hazmat to confront her issues and reluctantly she joins them.

Full Summary: 

Quadrant 3:
Humberto Lopez aka Reptil swims for his life, wondering what good his powers have ever been to him. They didn’t help him find his missing parents. They couldn’t make his girl love him back. Right this second, he’s being hunted. Great white sharks have him cornered and he turns into his dinosaur self, tearing one of them apart. They aren’t his nightmare. His nightmare is that he has only one friend left. She’s hurt bad and needs his help. And he has no idea how to save her.

Said friend, Jennifer Takeda aka Hazmat, is tanning on the beach without her containment suit. He calls her. She warns him to stay over there. Don’t think she hasn’t noticed him creeping closer every day. She knows he’s compelled to sneak a peek at her baking in her booty shorts. She puts on the containment suit.

Reptil denies he was peeking. No judgment, she tells him. His dino hormones want what they want. But he has to face facts. This girl is poison. What are they eating?

Humberto insists he wasn’t peeping. Yes, he was, she shoots back. It’s flattering and it’s fine and it’s normal. Now, what’s for lunch? He shows her the frying shark. Shark steak party! she shouts and begins to dance while singing Oontza oontza oontz. She stops. What is he doing right now? Nothing. What is he supposed to be doing? Reptil joins her dance.

Later they eat. She’d have to string together at least four filthy words to properly describe how amazing this tastes, Hazmat states. His trick is weeks of starvation, Reptil jokes. Seriously lowers the bar. While poking at a coconut, he remarks he got scrappy with some sharks today and swam away with lunch. The plan was to stay here until his burns healed up. They did. He’s all better. Doesn’t she think it’s about time they figure out a new plan? Sure, she replies, new plan: she’s gonna drink some coconut water and take a nap in the shade. After that, maybe a swim.

How much longer are they going to keep pretending, he begins. Pretending like what? she asks sharply. Look around. They have a beach and a sun and an ocean to swim in. Meanwhile, nobody has tried to kill them in over a week.

This can’t last! Humberto insists. She remembers where she is, Jennifer snaps. She’s a smart girl. She’s figured out the ending. Which is exactly why she doesn’t need him trying to make her feel bad about enjoying this. Right here. Right now! This is as good as it gets for them! Stop trying to talk to her about what happens next! She doesn’t care! She walks away adding, God knows blood and death will rain out of the sky any minute, whether they talk about it or not.

A booming noise and Cammi, Anachronism, Cullen Bloodstone, X-23 and Nara come falling out of the sky and they land in the sand. Reptile gets nervous. Cammi assures him they come in peace. That mousy British girl leveled up in a big way, stole all the robots and very nearly put them all out of their misery. Nico held her off and Hogwarted them out. She should have followed right behind them.

They were fighting together? Humberto asks. Cammi points out trust comes a lot easier when a Sentinel tries to stomp on your head.

X-23 wakes up and sniffs. Reptil and Hazmat prepare for the worst but Laura tells them the trigger scent wore off. Happily, Hazmat announces all that matters is she is not being uncoolly homicidal to them anymore and hugs Laura.

Sounds like they have been through hell, Reptil tells the others and Hazmat suggests they could use a palm tree nap followed by a swim. Turns out those are the next two things on their agenda. And they’ve got shark and coconuts.

Nara grabs Aiden’s arm to follow he. Cullen asks if he is the only one who finds the girl’s chipperness disconcerting. Reptil agrees. What’s wrong with Hazmat? Laura asks.

Reptil’s narration:
Reptil explains he was jacked up pretty good when they got trigger-scented. Too hurt to transform but he couldn’t let Hazmat and X-23 kill each other, so he did it anyway. He flew Hazmat away. He found a safe place and passed out.

Hazmat sat with him for 13 days- he was burning up and unconscious for most of it but every time he woke up she was there. At first she’d scream at him for being weak. Then, after a few days, she got really quiet. She’d just hold his hand and stare off into space like she was waiting for something.

When he finally woke up for real, she had let go of his hand. He found her chilling on the beach, eating a coconut, She lazily greeted him and asked if he felt like a swim.
End of narration

Reptil thinks she waited for something terrible to happen and after a while she couldn’t handle it anymore, so she just gave up. Happy all the time. Won’t do anything but dance and lie out in the sun. She refuses to talk about Murderworld or Arcade or anything real. But she isn’t even mean or sarcastic when she tells him to shut up. She just smiles at him and says she doesn’t care.

Cullen tells him to stop talking and asks Laura if he is dim. Because he thinks he just told them a story in which that silly girl started acting daft and as a result the two of them have been playing sandiest arse here at the beach. That’s a tale only told by a true idiot.

What’s his problem? Reptil snaps. He’s worried about their friend! Well, his friend had to cut off another bloke’s head to keep his girlfriend ticking, Cullen snaps back.

Cammi gets between them and explains they spent the last two weeks trying to keep each other alive. It didn’t go so well. They could have used a dinosaur and Daisy Duke Nuke’ em in the fight. The fight one of them might not have survived. So they hear his story and wonder who might still be alive if he were a different kind of friend.

Reptil stammers they didn’t know… how could they have known… It’s bloody Murderworld out there, Cullen spits. How could they not know?

Reptil explains Hazmat lost everything. He couldn’t leave her alone. What was he supposed to do?

Grab her by the shoulders and shake her! Cammi replies. Look her in the eye and remind her that it’s day 25 of this 30-day nightmare. And that what they are doing here isn’t just crazy and suicidal. It’s cowardly!

Hazmat interrupts, announcing they brought some shark on a stick. She tells Cammi maybe she is a coward. Or crazy. Or both. All she knows is she’s never getting out of here. She’s accepted that. Life sucks and then you die, right? Arcade can have her life, but he doesn’t get anything else. She’s over fighting for his amusement. So they can hate her all they want, but this coward is spending what’s left of her crap life doing beachy things and pretending to be normal! She walks off. Reptil follows.

Cammi passes the shark sticks on. She tells the others she knows they just got their asses handed to them but Nico’s saved her life twice now and she’s only got five days to return the favor. They can stay if they want. But she’s going back in. Laura and Cullen agree. Nara asks if she really thinks Nico might still be alive. Cammi doesn’t know but figures Nico deserves a shot. Besides, she’s been the normal girl who sits around waiting for the next awful thing. It sucks. Hard! She promised herself she’d never be that helpless again and she doesn’t break her promises. Also… she kinda hates the beach.

Hazmat is getting ready to go back swimming. Reptil tells her to stop. She retorts if he wants to leave then go. She’ll be fine. He insists they talk. Jennifer refuses and tells him to back off. She takes off her containment suit. Humberto tackles her. She tells him she’s burning him. He doesn’t care; he just wants her to listen. He shouts this isn’t her. She’s not laid-back and fun-loving. She complains and argues and fights with her teeth and fingernails until the other guy isn’t moving. She doesn’t know how to give up!

She tried it that way, okay? Hazmat shouts back. She tried being herself and it didn’t work. Arcade kicked her ass and she couldn’t stop him. She couldn’t even keep the team together.

He gets up and tells her Mettle deserves better. He sacrificed himself so she could keep on fighting. He died to save her. He loved her. Not some empty shell who lies in the sun pretending like she’s already dead.

He blew him up! she screams. He snapped his finger and her boyfriend exploded all over her! Mettle’s dead, she sobs.

20 minutes later a doubtful Reptil has joined the others. He figures they have a point. He doesn’t want to die with his eyes shut just because Hazmat has given up.

Hazmat joins them, sourly asking what’s the hold up. Let’s go die trying!

Characters Involved: 

Anachronism, Cullen Bloodstone, Cammi, Hazmat, Nara, Reptil, X-23

In flashback:
Finesse, Mettle, Reptil

Story Notes: 

DEAD:  Juston Syefried, Kid Briton, Mettle, Nico Minoru,  Red Raven

The story is narrated by Reptil.

The cover is an homage to the movie “The Blue Lagoon.”

‘Hogwarted’ refers to the Harry Potter novels.

X-23 attacked the others in issue #6.

Anachronism had to kill Kid Briton to save Nara in issue #6.

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