Yesterday Marvel posted a brief Q&A with Dennis Hopeless, part of which dealt with the upcoming Boss Level arc of Arena which begins with issue 13 (well, properly with 14, since 13 takes place outside of Murder World and has already been confirmed not to have any impact at all on the events Hopeless is writing). I just wanted to point out a couple things that stuck out to me, and a few thoughts they stirred up. This thread is mostly about speculation -- and I've made it an answerable question only insomuch as it will become irrelevant after the next issue drops.
Note that implicit in this discussion is a single spoiler for today's Issue 11: no one dies.
Early on, Hopeless says of the trapped kids:
"They’ve been fighting since the beginning to prove Arcade wrong. To prove that his plan would fail and that Murder World wouldn’t change them. But it has changed them. They failed to prove anything. Arcade won the argument."
: Hopeless says that the kids haven't proven anything and that Arcade has already won because they're already changed. Not counting Hopeless' own characters (Apex, Anachronism), who has been changed by Murder World to the point where Hopeless is justified in saying "Arcade won?"
We don't know what happens in issue 12. But, as of the end of issue 11, not a single pre-existing character has played along with Arcade's rules at all.
So either Hopeless is delusional, saying the kids have darkened when they haven't, or else he's referring to a post-12, which means the next issue will see a couple of our heroes suddenly decide they accept Arcade's terms.
"Katy is honest with Becca. She confides in her pet Deathlok. We’ll be playing with that relationship a lot going forward."
Playing with a relationship going forward theoretically requires the relationship to be intact (since, aside from persuading the others not to kill Katy, Becca being privy to her confidence isn't worth much if Katy is dead). This suggests that both Apex and Death Locket will survive at least to issue 13, and to say they are playing with it "going forward" suggests they last longer. Note that I say "suggests." It's not ironclad. But it'd be awfully weird to talk about a dynamic between two characters going forward if one of them were going to die.
Consider the implications of these two surviving into the next round, specifically on issue 12.
First, we won't be seeing Nico coming back and offing Apex.
Whether Nico's "return" will be a prominent thing, or a simmering side plot waiting to reemerge later on in the arc, only Marvel knows. But it seems safe to say that vengeance isn't going to be quite so swift.
But that's not really the worrying part.
Far worse is the implication of that info combined with the promise at C2E2 that "most of them won't make it" to the Boss Level arc. We didn't get a death in 11. It is entirely possible we will get two in 12. But who could die?
Let's rule out the kids based on solicits.
- Apex (based on the discussion of her role in this interview)
- Death Locket (based on the discussion of her role in this interview)
- Hazmat (seen on final day of Murder World against X-23)
- X-23 (seen on final day of Murder World against Hazmat)
- Nara (solicited for issue 15)
- Bloodstone (solicited for issue 15)
- Anachronism (solicited for issue 15)
This leaves the following available to die:
- Nico (again)
- Chris Powell
First, because this continues to irritate me greatly, keep in mind that of Hopeless' kids are safe (unless, again, Hopeless plans to "play a lot" with a relationship between Katy and Becca after Katy dies).
Two things to think about when trying to guess what happens next:
1. Chris is completely useless without his armor, and Chase is currently in said armor. It would be outrageously unsurprising to see Chase killed for Powell to regain his mantle. He has been missing for eight issues now and his return, while expected, would still be considered shocking (especially if it coincided with a death) and is thus very much the sort of thing that would happen in this book.
2. After a light issue (note, I'm not saying bad, just that it wasn't grim) and one which made new readers with no prior attachment to characters suddenly care about Reptil, the emotional connection has been established which would make killing Reptil impactful. He is arguably one of the weaker characters at this point and with Hopeless' penchant for using deaths as plot devices instead of to service characters, Reptil's death could likely be used as justification for pushing Hazmat over the edge into villain territory.
It's entirely probable that these things won't happen but I will actually be a bit surprised if neither does.
So, thoughts? Thoughts on my thoughts? Anyone as worried as I am that a series like this doesn't have a lighthearted breath-catching issue without grim parity right around the corner?