Apr 5, 2023
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?
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 -
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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,
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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,
- DOC: Alright *sound effects of struggle*
- ARCADE: YOU CHEATER!
- 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! …
- Recommended reading:Avengers Arena
- Next episodes: Jonah Hex, Mister Sinister, Jeremy & Bre
- Plugs for social & GonnaGeek Network