Issue 173 – Arcade

Issue 173 – Arcade post thumbnail image

Step right up and listen to our episode about the most lethal carnival barker ever, ARCADE! Do Anthony & Doc press their luck and win big prizes, or do they hit a whammy with this assassin?

  • Intro
  • Background (2:02)
    • Arcade created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne in Marvel Team-Up #65 (Jan 1978)
    • Debuted as a hitman trying to kill Spider-Man and Captain Britain (Brian Braddock) in a game-like complex called Murderworld
    • He often reappears regularly, establishing a new Murderworld with the help of various assistants, all of them designed to kill different heroes or pairs of heroes
    • Murderworld is always filled with elaborate traps to extract maximum entertainment out of the killing, but Arcade always leaves his victims a sporting chance to escape – which they overwhelmingly do
    • One of his biggest stories was Avengers Arena, where he kidnapped 16 teen heroes and brought them to an island, forcing them to kill each other until one survives, Battle Royale-style – unlike most previous stories, he does manage to kill several of the heroes
    • Unlike many characters, little is known about Arcade’s background – he claims to have grown up wealthy, but he was cut off by his father, whom he murdered in response
  • Issues (4:48)
    • Arcade. What Kevin McCallister probably would have become had he not grown up to be the Jigsaw Killer instead. The guy whose goofy panache and gimmicky trademarks bely a very dangerous and accomplished assassin. Arcade is one of those characters who’s not even remotely a mystery in terms of his issues:
    • Obsession with violence for the sake of entertainment. Think of the amount of work that goes into building the Murderworlds we’ve seen in the comics. Finding the physical space. Laying the foundation for construction. The blueprints, the design. Building a structure strong enough to withstand the impact of super-powered beings. Meticulously engineering multiple complex mechanical, electrical, computer, and robotics systems that all have to work in tandem with one another. Countless quality assurance tests to make sure everything runs the way he intends them to. And he custom-designs these giant deathtraps for every target. As an assassin, if his objective was just to kill, he could easily just use a ten-cent bullet. The sheer lengths that he goes to in order to carry out his hits are proof positive that it’s not about the killing or the money he’s being paid to kill for him, he really, really enjoys watching his targets struggle against his machinations, and the entertainment level that the violence and mayhem provide him.
    • Disassociation with his actions. Much like the Jigsaw Killer, Arcade will never build a deathtrap that doesn’t allow his victims a sporting chance to escape. Arcade has no philosophical motive towards making his targets appreciate their lives, however; he just doesn’t think the game is any fun if the outcome is predetermined in advance. This does tend to cause him to overlook part of his own responsibility in what he’s doing. It’s not me killing these people. It’s Murderworld. It’s completely possible for them to win the game I’ve put them in, they’re just not very good at it. (10:36)
    • Inferiority complex. As revealed in the Avengers Arena arc, Arcade has an extremely poor reputation among both the superhero and supervillain community. Although he has a sterling record killing run of the mill targets, he has failed to kill every single superhero he’s ever been contracted to assassinate. This causes him to suffer a deep depression when he finds out about it — at his own birthday party, no less. (15:10)
  • Break (21:55)
    • Plugs for ODPH, Popcorn Psychology, and Chris Claremont
  • Treatment (22:51)
    • In-universe – 
    • Out of universe –  People inured to the concept of violence when they see it on TV or on a computer screen, fans of contact or combat sports who turn themselves off to the pain being endured by the athletes for the sake of their entertainment.
    • As a possible in-universe or out-of-universe way of diverting his talents to something not quite so evil, tell me Arcade — with his proclivity for presentation, entertainment, and high stakes — wouldn’t make a perfect booker for a professional wrestling company.
  • Skit (39:55)
    • DOC: What? Huh? Where am I?
    • ARCADE: Hello Doctor Issues, welcome to Murderworld!
    • DOC: Who are you?
    • ARCADE: I’m your friendly host, Arcade! You’ll remember your stay here for the rest of your life. Unfortunately for you, that’ll be, oh, about five more minutes!
    • DOC: What? You won’t get away with this! As soon as I call…
    • ARCADE: Call whom? With what? You have no phone, no technology, no nothing. Let’s face it, Doc, you’re lonelier than a pimple-faced teen on prom night. But it’s not all bad news, let me give you the rundown on exactly what’s going to happen. You’ve got exactly five minutes to find the door that leads to your freedom, or this whole place will explode with the force of a hydrogen bomb, sending your atoms back into the oblivion from whence they came.
    • DOC: Why do I have a feeling you’re not exactly being honest with me?
    • ARCADE: What would I have to gain from lying? You find the door, you walk away free. On my honor.
    • DOC: All offense intended, that’s not exactly encouraging. What’s the catch?
    • ARCADE: Fair enough, good sir. Now, if you walk through the door you’re free. GETTING to the door, however… now there, I make no promises. Oh, and your clock starts… now.
    • DOC: *running sounds* OK, I think I see something in this wooded area… WHOA.
    • ARCADE: Ahh, here’s your first test. Sure, there’s a doorway just a few feet away. If only the whole ground, walls, and ceiling wasn’t covered with arthropods, bugs, and more legs than the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular! 
    • DOC: *shudders* Yeesh.
    • ARCADE: Oh that’s right, I forgot, you’re terrified of…
    • DOC: Hup hup haaahh… joke’s on you, I’m not scared of bugs anymore. And I made it through the door with plenty of time to – aww man!
    • ARCADE: Alright, fine, you made it through that one. But here’s your next challenge – public speaking! All you have to do is recite the hippocratic oath in front of this crowd of people and TV cameras! Oh, such a shame I forgot to have a copy printed out for you in advance. Clock’s ticking and all that. Welp, I guess you’ll have to-
    • DOC: *speedily* I do solemnly swear, by that which I hold most sacred, that I will be loyal to the profession of medicine, and just and generous to its members. I will lead my life and practice my art in uprightness and honor. And unto whoever house I enter, it shall be for the good of the sick to the utmost of my power. Holding myself apart from corruption, from tempting, from vice. I will exercise my art solely for the cure of my patients, and I will perform no operation for criminal purpose, even if solicited…
    • ARCADE: Alright, hurry up and get to the finish so you can just die…
    • DOC: But I didn’t-
    • ARCADE: Bah, you didn’t stumble at all. I’m not worried, though, because there’s no way you’re going to make it through this last trap. Besides, you’ve only got thirty seconds left, and you won’t solve this math-
    • DOC: The limit does not exist. *unlock sound* *door opens*
    • ARCADE: I… I really thought I was going to do it this time. I did my research, found out what you were afraid of. And then the math thing, I mean who can do differential calculus in their head like that?
    • DOC: Haven’t been scared of bugs in years. Public speaking? Dude, I host a podcast. And the math thing… did you do all that just for a Mean Girls reference?
    • ARCADE: I gotta be honest, this wasn’t my best work. I don’t have my usual resources, I put a lot into Bitcoin, and whatever was in cash I had in Silicon Valley Bank. This kinda got slapped together. 
    • DOC: Yeah, I can tell. My question is why?
    • ARCADE: Ever since I knocked off those teens, I was riding high for a while. Then things came crashing down, and I needed another big win. I thought taking out the psychiatrist to the caped community would put me back on top. 
    • DOC: But why do you have to be back on top? Do you realize the level of engineering and coordination it takes to set something up like this? You have an understanding of logistics and detail most people could only dream of. If you stopped trying to focus on killing people and pivoted towards a legitimate business, you could be the best in the field at that.
    • ARCADE: But where’s the challenge? The sport in watching someone try to figure out if they’ll live? The adrenaline rush that you get seeing a person’s head explode like a balloon? Without that, it’s all just blueprints and greenbacks. There’s more to life than money, surely you can appreciate that.
    • DOC: I can, and far be it for me to tell someone not to pursue their passion. But when that passion comes at the expense of creating dangerous and deadly situations for innocent people, that’s where-
    • ARCADE: Oh come off it, Doctor. You can’t possibly believe these caped clowns are innocent? How much collateral damage do they cause on a regular basis? I’m willing to wager that even your office has been impacted by them on more than one occasion.
    • DOC: That’s not the point. That’s no reason to hurt or kill them.
    • ARCADE: I didn’t hear a denial. And anyway, it’s all in the name of entertainment. Do you watch sports? Football? Boxing? MMA? I just take humanity’s innate thirst for blood and guts, and I take it to its logical extremes. We thrill at the idea of someone pounding a man’s skull in until he’s incapable of speech, leaving him functionally brain dead towards the end of his life. But someone giving him the mercy of delivering a killing blow is beyond the pale? Let me ask you – would you rather remember Ali going out gracefully in 1978, or as a pale shell of his former self at the end of his life?
    • DOC: Even if that’s not a horrible analogy, which it absolutely is, you’re ignoring the most important thing: choice. You kidnap these people and force them to kill or survive. That’s not fair at all.
    • ARCADE: It’s not a guarantee that they’ll die. There’s always a sporting chance. Something to keep it interesting.
    • DOC: Interesting for whom? That’s my point. 
    • ARCADE: For me, of course! What difference does it make if it doesn’t interest anyone else? But you know that’s false, too. Have you witnessed bare knuckle brawls, slap fighting, high speed racing? No one is there for competition alone. They all want to see someone’s life changed forever…or ended.
    • DOC: There’s one thing you keep forgetting to mention…choice. Free will. It’s obvious that you want complete control, AND you want violence. That’s a terrible combination.
    • ARCADE: We are made to compete. It’s our nature. And we are destined to die. I make sure these happen at peak performance value.
    • DOC: Then what’s the difference between a game and…*snaps fingers* a game? That’s it! A game!
    • ARCADE: What are you getting at?
    • DOC: Ever seen Wipeout? MXC? Ninja Warrior? Those are voluntary shows with some brutal consequences but people consider them to be in poor taste, not horrific.
    • ARCADE: *slow to understand* And so…
    • DOC: You could outplan all of those contraptions, I’m sure of it! But you’re so stuck on one note that you’ve limited your creativity. It’s death or nothing for you. How dull. 
    • ARCADE: You mean…permanent disfigurement?
    • DOC: *sigh* Broader than that! How about temporary embarrassment? Self doubt leading to self actualization. Impossible mortal feats being made possible to the non-caped community!
    • ARCADE: Well, necromancy is where I draw the line
    • DOC: Ugh…aaaaaanyway, my point is, do you think you could create a course so deviant that no one could solve it, and still not die?
    • ARCADE: *pause* You are an absolute MADMAN, you know that?
    • DOC: I’m sure it would have the backing of several major networks worth billions of dollars to the inventor and producer.
    • ARCADE: *pause* My world is spinning right now. This is all absurd. You don’t put people through trials and torture just to watch them succeed!
    • DOC: Is it really that much worse than putting them through trials to DIE and they STILL succeed?
    • ARCADE: Perhaps not. We’ll have to agree to disagree then.
    • DOC: *pause* wait, that’s all? No extra ranting? No threats to kill me some other way? Just letting me go?
    • ARCADE: I gave my word. You’re not an interesting target anyway. You have no abilities, no talent, and it’s obvious you don’t do much for patients besides giving them guilt trips.
    • DOC: That’s a low blow
    • ARCADE: No hard feelings. Shake on it? 
    • DOC: *clearly wary* You serious right now?
    • ARCADE: Always find ways to be serious when you’re having fun, doctor.
    • DOC: Alright *sound effects of struggle*
    • DOC: *out of breath* I may not know combat techniques, but I learned how to perform a patient takedown! You’re not going anywhere until the proper authorities arrive *sound effect of handcuffs* and it’s not a great idea to leave restraint equipment around even if you don’t think anyone will be alive to use it.
    • ARCADE: This isn’t fair! I demand a do-over! A reset! …
  • Ending
    • Recommended reading:Avengers Arena
    • Next episodes: Jonah Hex, Mister Sinister, Jeremy & Bre interview
    • Plugs for social & GonnaGeek Network


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