Title- X-Men (Volume 1) #124
Release Date- August 1979
Writer- Chris Claremont
Artist- John Byrne
He Only Laughs When I Hurt
Arcade is watching the X-Men struggle in Murderworld and he is laughing his head off as he is having much fun watching them struggle. The trapped Colleen Wing states that if he is going to kill the X-Men at least do it face to face. Arcade responds by giving her a kiss and she responds negatively to this.
He then begins to explain how he had been a rich man but his father thought that he was no good and cut him off. In turn Arcade killed his father and realised that he had a knack for murdering. He became one of the world’s top hit men but he found it boring so using his intellect and his father’s fortune he created murderworld. He would have people hire him to place victims in Murderworld but even then he got bored. Arcade wished to have a challenge to Murderworld and this was fulfilled when he was hired to murder a superhero called Captain Britain. But while capturing him Spider-Man got caught in the middle of it and the two heroes were able to escape. Arcade was hired by Juggernaut and Black Tom Cassidy to capture the X-Men and kill them. He found the capture part very easy and now he is enjoying them.
A brainwashed Colossus is attacking Cyclops and Wolverine. He thinks that they are enemies of the Soviet Union and must be destroyed. Wolverine goes to attack Colossus but is thrown through a revolving door. Cyclops tries to stop the door but it is too late, Wolverine is on the other side. Cyclops is struck through another wall and seemingly escapes and although Colossus has failed he seems to be glad. But he remembers what he has been told by Colonel Vashin and he walks away to track them down.
In her room Storm is still struggling to get out. A man made down draft forces her into the water and she begins to sink. She does swim up to the surface but discovers the water level is rising and she is running out of breathing space.
Cyclops has found himself in Nightcrawler's room and sees his teammate on the ground injured. Using his optic beams he blasts the death car before tending to his teammate. Nightcrawler is a little shook but otherwise unharmed. But before they can figure out a way to escape more cars appear with circular saws and make their way to the two mutants.
Wolverine has found Banshee who are now being attacked small flying spaceships firing lasers. Banshee still cannot use his powers to take them down but instead Wolverine decides to slice a nearby wall in an attempt to escape. But as the two X-Men go through the hole in the wall they are confronted by robot imposters of Magneto and the Incredible Hulk. Spider-Man and Captain Britain had used the same trick to escape Murderworld so Arcade has learned from this and added those two robots to combat them.
Storm begins to breathe in as much air as she can before diving back into the water. She has removed her cape and her boots to lessen the weight she is carrying. She figures that the water is coming from a vent inside below. She swims down and finds the pipe that is feeding water into the room. She starts to unleash lightning bolts at the pipe in hopes of destroying it and washing her out but she doesn’t know how long her lungs will hold out.
Not too far away Cyclops and Nightcrawler are still dealing with the death cars. But Cyclops unleashes an optic blast which ricochets off of each car destroying them and creating a hole in the wall which will allow them to escape. They make their way through the corridors of electrical wiring and eventually they split up to find the others. Cyclops stumbles upon Wolverine and Banshee who are fighting the Hulk and Magneto.
In his control room Arcade realises that he has lost Cyclops and Nightcrawler while Storm is overwhelming her trap. His assistants Miss Locke and Chambers try to help but they are unaware that they are being watched by Nightcrawler who is in the air ducts. Quickly he teleports in front of Arcade causing him to fall back. Miss Locke starts to fire at Nightcrwler with a shot gun but is quickly unarmed. He then begins to fire at the controls but Arcade orders Chambers to use the gas to subdue Nightcrawler.
In the other room Wolverine, Banshee and Cyclops are finishing off the robot Hulk and Magneto when suddenly the wall comes in and there is a tidal wave of water. Storm washes out but Cyclops discovers that she isn’t breathing. Quickly he gives her mouth to mouth and after a few moments she is able to breathe again and she regains consciousness. But then Colossus enters the scene, unaware that he is brainwashed Banshee goes over to him but is struck down. He then takes out Wolverine before grabbing Cyclops and Storm by their necks and lifting them off the ground. Colossus states that Xavier had used his telepathy to convince him to join the X-Men over using his powers with the Soviet government.
Storm and Cyclops use their words to try and convince Colossus that he is their friend. They state on how they were mere individuals before they joined the X-Men and how they are more than a team but a family. This is enough to snap Colossus back into reality and he hugs his two teammates and is very apologetic.
Arcade realises that he has lost and presses a button on his control console. The team are wrapped up in a giant metal pinball and they are sent down a series of shoots and tubes. Before too long they find themselves in an abandoned amusement park in the Bronx. But as they exit the sphere they see Nightcrawler, Colleen Wing, Amanda Sefton and Betsy Wiliford parachuting down towards them. They are wrapped up like Christmas presents but when they reach the ground the X-Men free each of them. There is also a note stating that the team have won this round. It is signed by Arcade but disintegrates within moments. Wolverine wants to find Arcade but Cyclops states that they have no idea exactly where Murderworld is and the fact that they cannot legally search private property. They don’t even have any evidence that a crime even took place so for now they leave and head back to the X-Mansion thankful that everyone is in one piece.
Well a good end to a fun two part story. Ok maybe it is not on the same level as the Phoenix business or the last time that the Original X-Men took on the Sentinels but it is still a worthwhile read. Arcade is an all-round fun villain who deserves to get the spotlight every now and again.
The traps that have been laid out for the X-Men truly boarders on the whacky and insane and it just shows that anything is possible in Murderworld. You did feel that there might have been a chance that a couple of the X-Men might not have come out of it in one piece. But it would be unwise for the team of Claremont and Byrne to kill off a member of the team after what happened to Thunderbird. But then again it would have been a shocking moment and we would have seen why Murderworld got its name.
Seeing Colossus brainwashed in that manner was also very entertaining. Playing on his fears is a good way to brainwashing people into believing whatever you want. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Colossus had chosen to give his power to the state rather than the X-Men. I think they might have had a What If? Issue about that some time ago but it is something to keep in mind. But despite the brainwashing as we saw there was still some of the old Colossus that we all know and love still trapped in there.
One thing I do have to question was how Storm could use her lightning bolts underwater without getting herself electrocuted. I’m no genius but even I know what happens when electricity comes into contact with water (I have played enough Pokémon games to know that one). Unless the way that she was using the lightning allowed it not to electrocute the rest of the water I don’t know exactly how that works. I think she should have been fried by her own lightning.
Also one other thing was that Wolverine and Banshee couldn’t escape through the lining in the wall but Cyclops and Nightcrawler could. I thought that Arcade would have given them fail safes as well but it seems that he ignored them. I find this hard to believe since he stated that was how he lost last time and it was a leading factor for him losing this time as well.
The ending is ominous and leads the reader to believe that Arcade will strike again. I’m wondering if he will have to pay the money back for not killing the X-Men but most likely he will keep it and say that he needs it to repair Murderworld before using it again. It would just be a way of him keeping the money.
In conclusion I’m giving the issue a 7 out of 10. About par with the last one but would have been better without those couple of plot holes I noticed.
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