Warning! This review contains vague spoilers!
Yes, another long-standing character bites the dust (oh come on, like you didn't know that would happen?) and yes, it's sure to make quite a few of you pull your hair out. However, it looks like writer Dennis Hopeless killed said character for a very specific reason and this is something that can potentially generate some very interesting results if handled properly.
Kev Walker is undeniably the star of this book. His work is downright fantastic and almost every panel has something for your eyes to appreciate. There's one particular moment that really made me gaze for a bit. Walker has a panel of Darkhawk staring at a tree at night and a vast array of light is shining through the treetops. It's simply gorgeous.
There's plenty for colorist Frank Martin to work with as well. From Cammi's projectiles to Darkhawk's shield, this is just icing on the already delicious looking cake. Even if you loathe the concept of the series, there's no way you can sincerely criticize how excellent it looks. Oh, and the death scene? That's a page your eyes are sure to enjoy. Your brain? Perhaps not as much if you're a fan of the victim.
As for the story itself, a nice little variable is thrown into the mix. The young heroes have scattered into different groups (while some prefer being a lone wolf), but now someone is testing the waters and causing all kinds of trouble. It's a nice and very needed change of pace from the exposition that aims to teach us about each character.
It's clear something big will come from the character's death, but right now it feels like said victim got the short end of the stick. I know many loathed Mettle's death, but at least he made a sacrifice. Red Raven's was to prove there's no escaping the scenario. But this? It's just going to upset a fair amount of people until we see what comes of this and even then I imagine that won't win some of them over.
A character suffers a mental breakdown after being humiliated and it seemed pretty drastic and abrupt. I can understand the reasoning... said character is young and in a terrible scenario, but this character has been through a lot worse (*cough* Annihilation *cough*).
The focus on Cammi felt like forced exposition to me. I thought Hopeless did a solid job with Mettle/Hazmat (developing an emotional connection) and then Deathlocket (introducing us to a new character), but here it literally felt like a heavy-handed biography recap of the character for new readers. I get that Marvel NOW! wants to lure in new readers, but this really slammed on the brakes for the book's pacing and could have been trimmed or modified to give it some more flare.
If you're wondering why Darkhawk is with the young group, you'll be happy to know a reason is provided here. It'll give you a decent laugh but it didn't feel like a firm explanation. Truthfully, it seems to me like Hopeless had an idea for Darkhawk and tossed him into the roster.
At this point you probably already have your mind made up about this title. If you're a big fan of AVENGERS ACADEMY or RUNAWAYS, odds are you're super pissed off that your favorite characters are being killed off (and believe it's just for shock value). If you fall into that category, then there's really no reason for you to pick this up because it's more of the same. Nothing here will win you over and you'd really just be spending $2.99 to complain. Save the cash and let Marvel know you don't like it by not purchasing it. It's really that simple.
That said, if you're not a die hard of those previous titles, then this series is at least worth checking out. It's not the most original concept around (Hopeless has even made jokes about that), but it looks superb thanks to Walker and it is indeed a fair dose of fun. Just because we've had a glimpse of later events doesn't mean we know how it'll conclude. Someone could save Hazmat. This could just be a virtual reality. So on and so on. I really hope Hopeless (say that 10 times fast) has an ace up his sleeve for us, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
I just checked out the preview for the next issue (was saving it until after I read #3) and apparently the character that "dies" is still alive. Naturally, this could be a ruse, too. We'll find out next month.