Arcade Games

There are few Marvel villains who have gone toe-to-toe with quite the range you find with Arcade.  Little is known of his back-story; the details change every time he tells it!  But one thing is certain.  The man is absolutely, certifiably insane.  He creates elaborate death-traps, ensuring his opponents have a slim chance of survival, and in Avengers Arena he’s upped his game.

Through the years, one thing has remained; he’s as insane as ever.

In his many years of battling various metahumans, two personal favourites stand out for me.  You’ve got Arcade’s tremendous battle against the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men 123-124.  Arcade’s genius is remarkable; he tracks down the X-Men, breaks through the Mansion’s security, and captures the entire team.  Granted, he unwittingly draws the attention of a certain wall-crawler…

I just love the fact he picks up the phone while he’s in the X-Mansion. I wouldn’t be surprised if he changed the answer-message, too: “Hello, I’m sorry, the X-Men aren’t here at the moment, they’re otherwise occupied being cruelly slaughtered. Please don’t bother leaving a message, ’cause they won’t be getting back to you!”

The story that follows is tremendous fun, with the X-Men pitted against pinball machines (for real), Wolverine fighting android duplicates that spring from mirrors, and Colossus brainwashed to betray the X-Men.  Arcade’s motive is ostensibly payment, but in reality he’s clearly having the time of his life.  Uncanny X-Men 124 also happens to feature the most fascinating insight into Arcade’s twisted mind:

The years went on, and Arcade played the villain in countless stories; he proved one of those few villains who can be dropped into the world of Captain America as easily as he can that of X-Factor.  When the 1990s came, though, Arcade took a bit of a reworking.  This was the age when comics became dark and gritty, with ‘realism’ and violence.  So we saw a new side of Arcade in the ‘Victims’ mini-series, a superb plot that featured Wolverine and Gambit.  Here, Arcade simulates the Jack the Ripper killings in London, and we get yet another classic Arcade plotline as a result.

As was so common for the 1990s, Arcade had gotten disfigured and blamed Wolverine for it for some insane reason. I think there was a whole club of ’em back then…

And now we come to our latest offering; Avengers Arena.  Evidently having had plastic surgery to get rid of the scarring by now, Arcade’s upped his game quite considerably.  Inspired by novels like ‘The Hunger Games’, he sets up a teen-super-hero-death-match par excellence, and kicks off the whole plot.  Due to some of his best tech to date, he holds all the cards in his hand, and he’s enjoying watching the kids pitted against one another.  Turns out his motive is quite simple here; he’s tired of being the joke, the guy who doesn’t really have a good ‘super-hero kill ratio’.  Well, he’s certainly getting better now…

From the outset in Avengers Arena, this madman means business!

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