In UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #12 on February 15, our heroine comes face to face with someone as crazy as her: the villainous Arcade and his deadly amusement park, Murderworld!
No doubt Arcade will have his hands full with Gwenpool, but before he faces off with one of his most outlandish challenges ever, take a look back at some of the prior highlights from a colorful career…
According to Arcade himself—so consider the source—the villain came from a wealthy family, possibly from Beverly Hills. When his dad cut off his allowance, Arcade killed him so he could claim his inheritance. He then became the “world’s greatest hitman,” but grew bored with simply killing people in a normal fashion. So he came up with the idea for Murderworld instead.
With the help of Miss Locke and Mr. Chamber, Arcade would accept contracts to kill people, then kidnap them and lock them up in Murderworld, where they would have to fight their way out or die trying. Arcade always gives a sporting chance, even as his robotic deathtraps attempt to dismember his would-be victims in creative ways.
A lovely place to die
Arcade’s amusement park of death debuted in the late 1970’s in the pages of MARVEL TEAM-UP #66, as the man dressed as a sideshow barker introduced Captain Britain and Spider-Man to the joys of Murderworld—“joys” like trapping them inside giant spheres while he played pinball with their lives. The two heroes proved more than a match for the crazed gamesman, who, no matter the outcome, always seems to enjoy himself as he watches the heroes compete against his deadly traps.
X marks the spot
Following his debut, Arcade began a long rivalry with the X-Men, who always had enemies willing to pay for their deaths—like, for instance, Black Tom and The Juggernaut. The team’s first encounter with Murderworld saw several of their friends—including Amanda Sefton and Colleen Wing—held captive while they dealt with Arcade’s deadly devices. Arcade brainwashed Colossus into “The Proletarian,” a Communist sympathizer who set his sights on killing his fellow mutants. The madman also trapped Storm in a small area filling with water, playing on her fear of enclosed spaces, and set Wolverine against robot versions of Magneto and The Hulk. The level of detail and personalization in his traps never failed to impress—even if they don’t always get the desired results Arcade hopes for.
Through the years, the X-Men always managed to thwart Arcade’s diabolical machines, and in one encounter even attempted to “save” him from Doctor Doom. UNCANNY X-MEN #145-147 features the team’s first encounter with the monarch of Latveria, as Miss Locke blackmails them into a mission to rescue her boss from the dictator. While Doom captures the regular team, Professor X calls in some old friends—a depowered Banshee, as well as Havok, Polaris, and Iceman—who head to Murderworld to rescue several of the X-Men’s loved ones by battling robot hockey players and deadly roller coasters.
On the road
While Arcade had a particular grudge against the X-Men, through the years the businessman would focus his efforts on other heroes as well. When a Ghost Rider-less Johnny Blaze starred in his own solo title in the mid-1990’s, he joined Quentin Carnival—and in BLAZE #8, a new employee signed up as well. The red-haired man with the yellow bowtie decided to take Murderworld on the road, packing his deathtrap into a semi and populating it with demons that Blaze eventually took on. The former Spirit of Vengeance seemingly trapped Arcade in his own trap and left him in the desert, but the villain would of course pop up again to plague other heroes.
Arcade’s most ambitious project came after a bout of depression and a stint in prison. The sinister showman and his new assistant, Miss Coriander, kidnapped 16 teenage heroes—including X-23, students from the Avengers Academy, members of the Runaways and Darkhawk—and made them fight to the death in a completely new arena. In this enhanced Murderworld, Arcade took a “hands on” approach, as inside his new domain he had all sorts of crazy new powers.
After battling death traps, turning on each other, and ultimately escaping Avengers Arena, several of Arcade’s victims banded together to hunt him down. They tracked him to Bagalia, an island ruled by criminals, and they went undercover as villains themselves to try and get close to their tormentor. Hazmat apparently killed Arcade early in the series after which Baron Zemo, Madame Masque, and other villains try to convince the teenagers they’d be better off breaking bad. Like many times before, though, Arcade would escape death and pop up again to plague the likes of Hellcat and now Gwenpool.
Sign up for Arcade’s latest Murderworld in UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL, coming February 15!