Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Stan Lee presents: SPIDEY and CAPTAIN BRITAIN -- together

Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker/Colorist: Dave Hunt
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: Spider-Man and Captain Britain awaken in Arcade’s Murderworld, where they are soon separated to face their own deathtraps. Cap battles evil funhouse mirror versions of himself, then finds his love interest, Courtney Ross, a prisoner. While Cap tries to rescue her, Spider-Man escapes a holographic battlefield by sneaking into Murderworld’s maintenance tunnels. The web-slinger messes with the complex’s systems, then heads back out to find Captain Britain.

Spider-Man and Cap meet up and rescue Courtney, then, thanks to Spidey’s earlier mischief, Murderworld blows a fuse and explodes. The heroes and Courtney emerge from the underground complex in Manhattan, where Captain Jean DeWolff picks them up. Elsewhere, Arcade vows to rebuild Murderworld and have his revenge on Spider-Man.

Continuity Notes: Courtney Ross is a member of Captain Britain’s supporting cast created by Chris Claremont. Claremont would go on to use Courtney again more than a decade later in his EXCALIBUR run, where she will once more be captured by Arcade as bait for Cap.

Mr. Chambers, Arcade’s maintenance man, makes his real debut this issue. He speaks with a brogue of undetermined origin.

Captain DeWolff states that a “lone wolf” did a “Punisher-type number” on the Commission, killing them all. There's no word who this was, though smart money would be on the mystery woman who observed Arcade’s meeting with the Commission last issue. Though the real mystery here is why Claremont chose to abruptly dispatch the Commission completely off-page and never return to them again.

My Thoughts: Arcade is often mocked by fans for never actually killing anyone in Murderworld. Personally I don't subscribe to that line of thinking. It's made very clear in his earliest appearances that he is a highly successful assassin who has killed numerous non-powered humans in his amusement park, and one can assume he continues to do so in between his failures to kill superhumans.

On the other hand, the "definition of insanity" aside (doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results each time), Arcade's distinct lack of wisdom displayed by his continued acceptance of superhuman contracts is certainly a fair topic for mocking, and it can be argued that Claremont even acknowledges that to some extent here. Murderworld is a complete cakewalk for Spider-Man. The place is clearly designed with normal human victims in mind, and Spidey barely breaks a sweat thwarting it.

Which, when you think about it, is a really weird way to intro your new villain. While I don't doubt Arcade’s reputation, he displays absolutely zero sense of menace here, tossing Spider-Man into a couple easily-escaped deathtraps, failing at his contract, losing his entire massive complex, and then calling it a day. He's much scarier in his second appearance a few years later, against the X-Men.


  1. Arcade is often mocked by fans for never actually killing anyone in Murderworld.

    While I buy entirely your argument that he's killed plenty of normal people in Murderworld, the mocking fans point could probably be amended to "Arcade is mocked for never being shown killing anyone in Murderworld". From his first appearance here, we're TOLD he's a great assassin, but all we're ever SHOWN is his failures. Yes, those failures can be explained, but the fact remains: we only ever see him fail, which makes it harder to take him seriously.

    All that said, I generally like Arcade. I think he makes for a great one-off, segue-into-the-real-villain-of-the-story villain.

    He's much scarier in his second appearance a few years later, against the X-Men.

    Presumably, he's beefed up Murderworld by then. Though it helps that Colossus gets brainwashed and Phoenix isn't around.

    1. You make a fair point about telling vs. showing. I think in his first UXM appearance, we get a flashback panel or two showing someone getting offed in Murderworld, and in the early EXCALIBUR appearance we see him kill a normal guy, but that's really about it. I suppose if more stories opened with a teaser showing Arcade killing someone in Murderworld before accepting a new superhero target, it might make his reputation easier to buy.