Thursday, June 11, 2015

Your Last Stop: Murderworld!

Getting captured by a garbage truck is probably embarrassing enough for two super-heroes such as Captain Britain and the amazing Spider-Man. But, regaining consciousness to find themselves encased in life-sized, transparent pinballs?

We've come to Part Two of a 1978 story from Marvel Team-Up, featuring our first introduction to the colorful villain Arcade, and his fatal killing ground otherwise known as:


To bring you up to speed following Part One of this story, Arcade has taken a contract from the Maggia to take out a man they believe to be Captain Britain, as part of a larger hit on a number of other such suspects in Great Britain. Fortunately, C.B. has recently crossed paths with Spider-Man during his visit to New York--but not so fortunate for the webhead, as Arcade now regards him as a dividend of the hit.

On the other hand, the Maggia would probably be miffed at knowing that Arcade's methods for fulfilling a contract are to draw out the process unnecessarily, by trapping his targets in a sadistic, man-made complex known as "Murderworld," rigged to threaten their lives in a panorama of deadly games. That would normally give Spidey and Cap a fighting chance; but "chance" is irrelevant when your host controls the odds!

In other words, let the games begin!

Of course, in the world of comics, things are only impossible until they're not--and despite how this machine is keeping Spider-Man from using his abilities, a floating head of the one you love works wonders for mustering resolve.

In Murderworld, though, escaping one trap only means falling into another. Emphasis on the "falling" part:

Despite the ludicrous way he goes about it, Arcade knows his business--and he's keen enough to know that Cap and Spider-Man should be separated (not to mention that it will provide him with twice as much fun). He's also not above using hostages to keep his targets off-balance.

(You can always tell a Chris Claremont story by the cockiness and Wolverine-like diction of its villains, can't you?)

Score one for Spider-Man, who, unlike Brian Braddock, still has a secret identity that prevents Arcade from pulling a similar tactic to keep him occupied with Murderworld. (Seriously, though--Arcade doesn't take the opportunity to unmask these heroes while they're both unconscious? If only to verify that Captain Britain is Brian Braddock?) But Spidey has his own problems with Murderworld, thanks to Arcade shifting him from one deadly scenario to another:

Meanwhile, Captain Britain finds that his lady love is in dire straits--not only suffocating, but trapped as one of the prizes in a frustrating scoop game that many of us have played in real life and end up swearing is rigged to fail. And since Arcade has used the opportunity to lure Cap into yet another trap, failing to save her is becoming a distinct possibility.

But Spider-Man is using his escape route well, ripping out circuitry and hopefully critical components as he makes his way to Murderworld's control center. A development that Arcade, a gamer to the core, doesn't want to be bothered with:

Yet as the wall-crawler crawls his way to within a few feet of Arcade's own control hub, the villain is forced to distract him with Captain Britain's predicament. The ploy works--but the damage is literally done, and Arcade pays the price for underestimating his victims.

It's not exactly a "clean" break for Spidey, Cap, and Ms. Ross, since they must dive into the adjacent sewer lines to escape the building's explosions. On a positive note, once they hook up with the police they're informed that an assassin has wiped out the top hierarchy of the Maggia before they could go through with their plans for eliminating the other men suspected of being Captain Britain.

As for Murderworld, the complex is devastated, and out of business--for now. According to Wolverine Arcade, the show must go on--and most definitely the fatalities.

Marvel Team-Up #66

Script: Chris Claremont
Pencils: John Byrne
Inks: Dave Hunt
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski

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