Avengers Arena #18

Issue Date: 
February 2014
Story Title: 
Boss Level: part 5

Dennis Hopeless (writer), Kev Walker (penciler), Kev Walker & Jason Gorder (inkers), Jean-Francois Beaulieu (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Dave Johnson (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: 

Apex, now in control of Murderworld, watches as the other kids fight each other until they notice that Hazmat is about to go into meltdown. Reptil grabs her and storms into the water with her before she blows up. The event takes the fight out of the others. Disappointed, Apex employs all the secret weapons of Murderworld against them, while musing that she regrets having to kill her toy Death Locket. Surprisingly, Death Locket breaks loose of her control and attacks her because Apex’s twin, Tim, has released her from Apex’s control. Shortly after wrestling control over their shared body, Tim begs Death Locket to kill them before Katy takes control again. Heartbroken, she complies and disables the weapons, thus saving the other kids whom she joins. Hazmat now able to exist without her containment suit joins them as well and they vow not to tell anybody what precisely happened here. Their guardians are called. X-23, Reptil and Darkhawk turn out to have survived. The adults are shocked speechless, wondering what to do. And from a luxurious hotel suite, Arcade uploads the first of thirty videos detailing the truth about Murderworld to the Internet…

Full Summary: 

Murder World, Arcade’s lair, day29:
She’s no monster, Apex, now in control of Arcade’s computer systems, announces. It’s not as if she approves of their ginger host or what he made them do. Fact is, she had a rather good thing going before all this. But sitting her on Arcade’s God throne with all these little lives dangling from the tips of her fingers, it's hard not to respect the man’s patience and restraint. She reads his list of unused tricks: man-eating insect horde, sentient typhoon, napalm winds. He’s even weaponized the bloody sand. Could have tortured their every waking hour. She would have. But she’d have been wrong. He lit the fuse, poked and prodded it along and look how brilliantly it all played out, she remarks, watching the fights on screen. Nothing left to do but watch. She likes to watch, doesn’t she? she asks Death Locket, who is again under her control.

In Quadrant 3, Anachronism is battling Reptil and Cammi, while Darkhawk is fighting Nico in the air.

Chase hears a voice begging them to stop. She’s scared. He’s not interested until she hurts him a bit. He turns around to see Hazmat about to blow up.

Chase shouts at the others to quit their fighting and look. Somebody do something! Reptil rushes toward Hazmat, grabs her in his maw despite her protests. He runs into the water with her. The explosion occurs underwater and the others watch horrified.

Down below, Apex is disappointed that they interrupted the battle. How can this many people all be rubbish at playing a simple game?! If they were still up there - she looks at the hypnotized Death Locket. But they aren’t. They are down here with all the buttons, she smirks and begins to press them.

Up in Murderworld:
Chase shouts a warning as sand people rise from the beach, giant killer insects swarm from above and even the water is about to attack. Looks like time is up, Aiden states. Sure, unless they all wanna kill each other real fast, Cammi observes. Tried that once, didn’t they? Aiden remarks. Turns out to be harder than it sounds, Nico agrees and the four stand back to back. Chase calls them all messed up. Seriously, what do they do here? Cammi throws the Darkhawk medallion back at Chase. Try not to die! Nico shouts as they all begin to fight back.

Down below, Katy is pleased with herself. Somewhat pensive, she looks at Death Locket. The hardest part of ending all of this is going to be her, she admits. For this sole survivor ploy to work, for Katy to leave here with her good name, she’ll have to kill Death Locket as well. Shame that. She strokes her head. Who wants to lose her favorite toy? Tears in her eyes, Becka breaks loose and hits Katy. She is not her toy! she shouts and calls Katy a self-important megalomaniacal bitch.

Katy realizes Tim cut her loose and tells him to give her back or turn her off. She will kill them! she shouts panicked as Death Locket trains her gun arm at her.

Tim manages to wrangle control over their body. When Becka sees this, she lowers her arm and apologizes. She hugs him. She almost shot him. Katy’s just so evil and— Take the shot, Tim orders her. He needs her to shoot him in the head. Horrified she refuses. It’s the only way, he tells her. She doesn’t believe that. They can shut everything down— He can’t move, he can’t walk, Tim replies. Katy’s so much stronger than he is. It’s taking all he has to hold her down. He would never ask. But if she doesn’t end this right now, his sister will. She can’t! Death Locket shouts. Please! he cries and screams in pain as he tries to keep Katy back.

Further up, the kids are surrounded and finally overwhelmed by the sand monsters… who suddenly disappear. Everything is back to normal again. They wonder what happened.

A globe rises from the ground. And Death Locket steps from it in a blood-splattered shirt. They can stop now, she announces. It’s over.

After she has told them everything, Nico wants to thank her. Becka forbids it. Chase suggests they bounce. Nico remarks they have to find out who else is left. Cullen’s over on the island. Pretty banged up but he should be okay. Aiden remarks X-23 is in the woods. But he’s not sure if— Chase points out that’s X-23. Whatever happened, she’s probably cool.

Cammi announces there is another thing they need to discuss before other people show up. They need to get their story straight. Decide what they want to tell. What they don’t. Aiden doesn’t understand. She asks how’s this gonna look to other people. Chase protests nobody is going to blame them. Nico is less sure. Aiden doesn’t believe they can hide what they did and what was done to them. Ever watch the survivor interviews after a big disaster or tragedy? Cammi asks, where the drag the shell-shocked victim in front of a camera three days after the worst thing she will ever experience? Chase is right. They are kids. They won’t put them in handcuffs. They’ll pat their heads and turn them into a story. And how should they avoid that? Someone asks.

Surprisingly Jennifer drags herself from the ocean, not wearing her containment suit, nor seeming to need it. By saying nothing, she announces. They make a pact that they won’t let Arcade win. Cammi asks how she survived that. And why isn’t she glowing? A promise that they won’t talk about this hellhole or anything that happened here, Jennifer continues. Ever.

Murderworld, day 30:
The grown-ups arrive. SHIELD agents take care of the bodies. Abigail Brand is there for Cammi, Captain Britain for the surviving Braddock school kids, Hank Pym for the Avenger Academy kids and Wolverine for X-23, as well as Maria Hill. The injured are taken care of, among them Chris Powell who has his Darkhawk amulet back. Reptil is recovered from the lake, still alive. The grown heroes look at each other, not knowing what to say.

One week later, a luxurious hotel room. On a computer monitor, a news anchor discusses the events in Murderworld or what little they know, as the survivors refuse to discuss events. An expert on superhuman studies blames the adults for failing those kids. These heroes of theirs should be ashamed of themselves.

And how, Arcade agrees as he pours himself some champagne and uploads the first video of 30 detailing what really happened in Murderworld. Immediately the clicks start…

Characters Involved: 

Anachronism, Cullen Bloodstone, Cammi, Chase Stein, Darkhawk, Death Locket, Hazmat, Nico Minoru, Reptil, X-23

Captain Britain
Hank Pym

Abigail Brand (commander of SWORD)
Maria Hill (commander of SHIELD)
SHIELD agents


Story Notes: 

DEAD:  Apex / Tim Bahir, Juston Syefried, Kid Briton, Mettle, Nara, Red Raven

This is the last issue of the series.

The cover is variation of the cover of issue #1.

X-23’s story continues in All-New X-Men #19.

Most of the other characters next appear in Avengers Underground, the thematic successor of this series.

While Reptil’s fate isn’t 100 percent clear in this issue, he is shown to have survived in Avengers Underground #10.

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