While my opinion on Dennis Hopeless' story has primarily gone from "not a fan" to "alright" (Arcade tale aside), it has always been Kevin Walker's art which made the book stand out to me. Unfortunately, he's not around this issue. Instead, Riccardo Burchielli provides the visuals, and while I'm not as enthusiastic about his work, it make for a mostly solid looking experience. This chapter has a gruesome turn of events and Burchielli manages to make the injuries downright painful to observe. I'm usually just fine with handling gore, but having a broken bone thrusting out of someone's leg? It's kind of brutal to gaze at.
While the style is noticeably different with facial expressions, having Jean-Francois Beauli remain on colors makes the art change not too jarring and it does at times feel quite similar to the look we're used to. I'm not the biggest fan of the facial work and characters sometimes appear sleepy, but the action certainly looked good and delivered the proper impact behind the forceful and elaborate attacks.
I will confess, Hopeless gave me a decent laugh with a rather short segment featuring Darkhawk. It's brief, but having an unexpected laugh is always a nice treat, especially when the tale has such a strong focus on so much despair and suffering. Additionally, the action here is quite fun, particularly if you're not emotionally invested in the well-being of some of these characters.
Alright, I need to dive into spoiler territory for these.
Katy is "in it to win it," so to speak, why would she not kill her deadliest opponent when she has the opportunity to do so? Why beat X-23 within an inch of her life and then toss her away? Knowing X-23 has a healing factor, why not go all of the way? Look, I don't want to see X-23 die, but this was just a dumb move on Katy's behalf. Also, why flee when you have Katy's forces momentarily incapacitated? Why not continue the offensive and do everything possible to destroy the sentinel instead of running while it's vulnerable?
Nico's final word... why hasn't she already attempted this?! I'm happy Hopeless addressed teleporting not working, but why would she logically not try to send a message for help sooner? I'm assuming this will reach the outside heroes and somehow help them locate Murder World, but I'm baffled as to why she wouldn't try this prior to being murdered in a horribly violent fashion. I'm not even a big Nico fan and I feel like this is vastly underestimating her potential and not giving her a meaningful demise. It seems like downplaying the character just to move the plot forward. I get her sacrifice will probably save the team and all that... I just have trouble stomaching it because I see no good reason why she wouldn't attempt this sooner. Nico and Juston fans, you have my sympathy.
For the most part, this book usually has me down the middle. I enjoyed the Arcade-focused issue but aside from that, everything has been rather "meh" for me. I understand some of you loathe the premise of this book and if that's the case, this issue will likely make you want to flip a table or smash your keyboard. Needless to say, avoid it at costs and don't spend a dime on it. However, if you've been digging the premise, odds are you'll have a blast with the action packed developments. But for me? My personal gripes and frustration over a few decisions drop this issue to two stars.