As this title nears the end of it’s run, things are really heating up, but it does mean that there isn’t as much breathing room for Dennis Hopeless, as this issue is not the Cammi focus the cover promises (although it is an awesome cover), and instead focuses on pretty much every character that’s still alive.
Whereas previous issues have focused LOST-like on only one character, the first 6 pages put is inside the heads of not just Cammi, but also Cullen Bloodstone, Reptil, Nico, Hazmat, X-23 and Death-Locket. It’s a bit frenetic and a big departure from this title’s regular pace, but I think it worked, and I really appreciated the craziness of those first few pages, so much stuff happened, and Arcade finally got what he wanted, as everyone started fighting each other properly. Anachronism, in a rage after Nara’s death hacks at Bloodstone with his axe, and Cullen is willing to let himself be killed, but Cammi shoots Anachronism away. Then, Nico has Chasehawk blast Reptil for some reason, and then she flies off over the sea with Cullen. It was mental! What is Nico up to! The next 2 pages then bring us right back to #1, with Hazmat being stalked by X-23 through the woods, and even ends with the ‘I’ve always been a hater’ line, bringing everything full circle.
Hopeless then finally brings the spotlight back underground, as we revisit what’s going on with Death-Locket and Apex in Arcade’s bunker. It’s was, like, issue 12 when we last saw these characters right? Death-Locket and Apex have been spying on Arcade, working out his routine so they can get to his computer and hack it. I liked how this issue used the character of Apex, with the good guy Tim and bad guy Katy switching between each other much more often, and actually having conversations, Apex is such a weird character, but it works. Death-Locket sneaks into the bunker to create a diversion, and does so by attacking Arcade’s robo-butler with Kid Briton’s sword. Of course, she is captured, and of course, Apex fails to hack Arcade’s computers, and it looks like our villain has really, finally won, as we see shots of the last six competitors in the Arena actually fighting. But then… Chris Powell is alive! Oh yeah, the original Darkhawk is back. It probably does make no sense that Arcade left him alive, but Hopeless wisely mentions that himself to silence the haters, and hey, it’s part of Arcade’s character, he may be much more bad-ass now, but he’s still a goof.
There are only 2 issues left of this series in it’s current form, and I can’t wait to see where it goes, the first 4 pages of this issue had more surprises than most superhero comics have in 4 months, so I have high expectations that #17 and #18 will blow me away.
Karl Moline once again provides the artwork here, and he does an excellent job, his work is too polished when compared to Kev Walker’s, but his facial expressions were perfect here, and his style does fit with the established tone, cartoonish in a way because this is a teen book, but with a darker edge, because, well, all those teens are brutally killed.