After two pretty weak covers, this series makes up for it in full with another absolutely brilliant one. I'm not sure if it's a tribute like most of the others, but I absolutely love it. It brings an odd, almost lighthearted tone to the series, that it needs in small doses like this to balance out the tragedy just enough. It's amazing how silly this cover is without being completely Deadpool-goofy. I mean, sexy-posing Darkhawk with a starfish on his chest comes pretty close to absolutely gut-busting, but the overall presentation is just subtle enough to make a perfect fit. The choice of various characters from the different camps works well, creating a nice cover with a well rounded segment of the overall cast.
Do I need to keep saying Kev Walker's art is excellent? Probably not, but dammit, it is. It looks great and it fits the tone PERFECTLY.
Once again, this issue focuses on one of the new characters from the Braddock Academy, Anachronism. We finally start to understand what his whole deal is, powers and personality and everything, and like the rest of the focused characters (excluding Kid Briton) he's likable, sympathetic, and filled with intense personal struggle. This issue is a bit more of a direct follow-up on the previous issue than any other, even the flashbacks link up nicely with the ones from the previous issue. Anachronism has a weird and complex 'relationship' with the bitchy fish woman Nara. I'm trying to figure out what Nara's deal is, because she seems far more interested in Anachronism than Kid Briton who she was actually sleeping with, but she's only interested in Anachronism if she can draw out the 'bad boy' inside him. The internal decisions she's trying to get him to make are.... VERY morally complex. It's hard to say just how much of it is right, and how much is just mean, especially when it balances contradicting different lessons we usually see in these kinds of stories. Even weirder than that is the kind of twisted reasons that Anachronism is so attracted to Nara in the first place.
Basically, the Braddock Academy students here are the most psychologically damaged and dysfunctional group. Apex begins to show her true colors, with an amazing talent for psychological manipulation, and no demonstration of her own actual abilities yet. They're such a varied group, and infinitely entertaining and fascinating to watch interacting in action. But this issue, like the last one, is very well rounded with the cast, giving us key moments with each of the now three main camps. Basically, at this point Arcade is more openly twisting various little screws to create more frenzied Murder World violence. He didn't even need to pit the Braddock Academy students against each other, but when half the group went a different way, he basically threw them back together for a fight. The Avengers Academy group were a little more directly manipulated, but it all boils down to Murder World now being a significantly more openly dangerous place, Tension's been building, and now it's finally hit an explosive trigger into full violence. The powder keg has been ignited.
In Conclusion: 5/5
I have no complaints about this issue whatsoever. Apparently 'Trigger Scent' has some kind of history, but personally I think it's got a really cheesy name. I think too many people are quick to cry foul on it at this point. We don't know what the deal is with Arcade's RIDICULOUS new powers yet, we can't underestimate him in any regard until we know the facts. But seriously, this is a gorgeous and RIDICULOUSLY emotionally powerful series, and at the point we've reached in the series, anyone still reading it has very little logical legs to stand on for justifying the ire this series has generated. It's one of my absolute favorite Marvel books on the shelves right now, and I can't wait to see how it plays out.