|Marvel Team-Up (1st series) # 66|| || |
Issue Date: February 1977
Story Title: Murderworld
Staff: Chris Claremont (writer), John Byrne (artist), Dave Hunt (inker / colorist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Captain Britain and Spider-Man awake in huge pinballs and soon find they are part of a game in a deadly playground called Murderworld. The eccentric brilliant assassin, Arcade, first has them fight for their lives in an oversized pinball machines and then separates them to have them face them threats on their own. Captain Britain finds that his girlfriend, Courtney Ross, is trapped in a huge toy scoop with her air running out. To make matters worse, Arcade has water rushing into Cap’s chamber, meaning to drown him. Spider-Man fares somewhat better. Using logic, he dismantles the wall and disappears into a maintenance tunnel, where he starts sabotaging things. He reappears again outside Arcade’s control center, but doesn’t get an opportunity to meet the villain, as he has to help Captain Britain save Courtney. With that accomplished, they face the next threat – a gas attack. However, Spidey’s sabotage finally pays off, as Murderworld’s systems overload. Using the confusion, Spidey again tears off the walls and the three of them land in the sewers. They are finally picked up by the police and Captain Jean deWolffe tells them what has happened. By now, the heads of the European Maggia, who wanted Captain Britain taken out, have been killed by a lone wolf. Aracde and his henchmen stand in the ruins of Murderworld. Undeterred by his defeat, Arcade vows he will rebuild Murderworld bigger and better and then invite Spider-Man for a rematch.
Spider-Man slowly awakes from all embracing darkness to find that he is imprisoned in some kind of translucent globe. Next to him, Captain Britain is in the same situation, captured in another globe. With grim humor he pronounces that he assumes they are alive. Because, if they are dead, then Heaven must be a very strange place, indeed. Assuming this is Heaven. Isn’t he the cock-eyed optimist? Spidey shoots back. He’d like to know what this is all about.
It’s about murder, friends, a voice announces. It is Arcade, sitting in an observation room, surrounded by his henchmen Miss Locke and Mr. Chambers. Arcade goes on to explain to Locke and Chambers that the Maggia is paying him a million bucks to kill a college student named Brian Braddock because he may be Captain Britain. How much are they going to pay for the good Captain himself? Plus Spider-Man to boot? He hasn’t looked forward so much to a game in years.
Whatever he does on his regular size machine will be duplicated down below. He activates his pinball machine and Cap and Spider-Man’s globes are also bounced into a huge pinball machine.
They quickly find out that the bumpers send near killing electrical charges through the spheres, painful, but leaving their victims conscious. Worse, with the motion of the spheres, there is no chance to get any decent leverage. Spidey wonders why their captor is making them go through this. After all, he had him and Cap cold. Why not simply kill them then and there?
The bar pushes Spider-Man away from the dead ball slot. Unwilling to blow that chance, Spidey presses against the sphere’s walls… and nothing happens. For a moment, he doubts himself but, recalling his girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson, he refuses to just give up. He finally manages to smash he sphere.
Captain Britain isn’t that lucky. His sphere is on a straight course towards the dead ball slot. Spidey creates a web bump that bounces the sphere up into the air. Figuring out what Spidey is doing, Cap hits the sphere from the inside the same moment Spider-Man hits it from the outside and they manage to shatter it.
How is he? Spidey asks Cap. He’s felt worse, but he doesn’t remember when, the British hero jokes. Spidey tells him to stay loose. He has the uncomfortable feeling: the best is yet to come. Aptly put, Arcade agrees in his control center, because it is time to put another ball into the game.
The two heroes suddenly hear a rumbling sound as a huge ball comes rolling at them. Suddenly spikes appear on its surface. They momentarily don’t know what to do.
Shame on them, Arcade pooh-poohs in his control booth. They are not reacting any better than the other “guests” who entered his world of life and death. His doomball has frozen them in his tracks right where he wants them – albeit only for an instant. Their mistake, because the only thing they had to fear right now was fear itself.
The ball fades away, having been only a hologram and the two heroes fall down two separate trapdoors. Chiding himself as being dumb, Spidey glides down a chute, swearing that he expects any moment to run into a little girl and a rabbit with a pocket watch. He lands hard and a cowboy type with a heavy drawl orders him to draw.
Captain Britain glides down another tube, surprised that in spite of the danger this is absurd fun. He lands and turns to see an obvious way through another room. He is suspicious, then he sees that it is a sort of prize chamber and, within a transparent cage, is his girlfriend, Courtney Ross.
Arcade suddenly addresses him and explains that in order to rescue her all he has to do is drop her capsule down the clearly marked chute on the other side of the prize chamber. He has his word of honor that, once she’s down that chute, she is out the game and safe. But, until then, her life is up for grabs. He tells Cap to move. Courtney has about two minutes of breathable air left to her.
Cap starts striding towards Courtney, passing a hall of funhouse mirrors. Strangely enough, his distorted reflections come to life and begin attacking him. A brawler reflection starts hitting him, while a thin one does an imitation of Mr. Fantastic, wrapping the real Cap up so tightly he can barely move. But with Courtney’s life at stake it takes more than warped images of him to hold him. He lashes out wildly, frees himself and starts running towards Courtney.
Meanwhile, the cowboy cyborg again orders Spidey to draw, as he starts shooting at him. Spidey evades the shots and settles the fracas with his fists by literally tearing the robot apart who wheezes a final Yuh … got … me . pardnuh. Shaking his head, Spidey complains that loony bin is like that old joke: ‘it only hurts when I laugh’ … and this place has got him laughing all the time.
Suddenly, he finds himself being strafed by warplanes. The entire Western atmosphere is replaced by a wartorn landscape. He starts running and complains that this is the kind of war only John Wayne could love. And he is stuck right in the middle of it. He realizes by now that everything in Murderworld is part real, part illusion, only he can’t tell which is which. And in this case what he doesn’t know, can kill him. He starts to reason. He hasn’t moved. That means he must still be in the tunnel. That means he has to ignore the sensoral images around him and find the tunnel wall.
He tears off a panel, finding circuitry behind and, better yet, a maintenance shaft. Marveling at the electronic hardware he sees, he figures that whoever built this pace must be a grade-A genius. He wouldn’t know where to begin sabotaging the place. He hopes Cap is doing better.
Cap has reached the window that separates the prize room from his. It’s a giant treasure scoop, with Courtney as one of the prizes who has to be grabbed by the scoop. He recalls playing the normal sized versions of the game at fun fairs back home and his luck was always lousy. He figures he can use the handles before him to operate the scoop. Before he can act, the door behind him slams shut and Arcade’s voice announces that this is just to make the game more interesting, as water comes rushing in… How long can he tread water, Arcade asks.
The evil genius tells his henchmen that he hasn’t enjoyed himself that much in years. Finally, he is up against opponents worthy of his genius. Miss Locke informs him that the sensors aren’t picking up Spider-Man anymore. Mr. Chambers adds that there are malfunction read-outs from the central power core. Arcade furiously tells them not to disturb him in the middle of a game. If there is a problem they are to deal with it. He’s busy.
So is Spidey, as he tears apart things, recalling an adage told to him by the Thing: ‘When in doubt, smash everything and pray you’re somewhere else when it all goes blooey.’
Cap finds that not only the chamber is filling with water, now the grab’s acting up. Time’s running out for him and Courtney, as the water level has almost reached his nose. He has one decent chance at her. Miss and neither of them will live long enough for a second try.
At that very moment, around the proverbial corner, Spidey looks down through a hole in the ceiling and leaves the maintenance shaft.
Chambers and Locke find that their sensors have picked up Spider-Man again and he is right outside.
Hearing no tingling from his Spidey-sense Spider-Man figures he doesn’t have to worry about booby traps. He tries to open the door to the control center but finds it locked.
Arcade presses a button and a sliding panel to the left of the door opens. Spidey sees a sealed chamber with a sort of well in the middle. Not the subtlest invitation to a trap he has ever received, he remarks. No thanks. Then, however, he sees Captain Britain at the bottom of the well, strangely holding himself under water as if his life depended on it. Sighing, Spidey hopes he won’t live to regret this as he swings inside. Of course, the door shuts behind him.
He cracks open the sealed chamber to free the Captain, who tells him to forget about him and get Courtney. They rush towards the capsule and together manage to crack it open.
Cap helps Courtney get up and promises everything will be all right. Spidey doubts that, as he senses a familiar tingling and the next moment the room fills with gas. He desperately thinks to himself that the damage he did back in the tunnels must have has some effect, but with his luck he probably just shorted out their coffee machine.
Chambers warns Arcade about the systems and Arcade tells him to stuff it. He’s too much into the game and can’t wait to see what Spider-Man comes up with next. The answer comes somewhat sooner than Arcade expected, as the systems overload and the whole complex begins to blow up.
Spidey hears that and, once again, starts tearing at the panels and the three of them make for the tunnels behind, braving the horrible smell.
It’s almost dawn and the streets of Midtown Manhattan are empty as the three of them exit from a sewer to run right into a police car. The trigger-happy cop intends to take them in. That moment, Captain deWolffe’s car stops and she tells him their job is to bring Captain Britain in, not play gang busters. She takes charge of the three and asks where they’ve been, apart from the sewers.
De Wolffe explains that, according to Interpol, the Maggia put out a million dollar contract on Captain Britain, among some others, but some lone wolf got their top hierarchy first. The police had meant to warn Captain Britain when they heard he was in New York. She stops the car and tells Spidey to get out. She owes him, so he can take off while she makes excuses to headquarters. Spidey thanks her and tells Cap and Courtney to take care. His thoughts turn to Arcade and he muses that they probably haven’t heard the last of him.
Elsewhere, Arcade, Miss Locke and Chambers wade through the ruins of Murderwold. Miss Locke adds more bad news. Roak and Moran are dead and they will receive no payment from the Maggia. As far as they are concerned, they never even heard of him or Captain Britain. Arcade tells them to forget Captain Britain; he isn’t important. Chambers remarks that Spidey and Cap beat him fair and square. What is he going to do now?
Do? Arcade asks. With a broad grin, he turns around and informs them that he is going to rebuild, of course, bigger and better than before. And, when they are ready, they are going to invite Spider-Man for a rematch. And guess who’s going to win?
Captain Jean deWolffe
Captain Britain next appears as a co-star in the Black Knight strip running in the British Hulk comic (from issue #1 – 63). He returns to a strip of his own by Alan Davis and Dave Thorpe (who is soon replaced by Alan Moore as writer) starting with Marvel Super Heroes #377.
For some reason, Arcade never had his rematch with Spider-Man. He does make a career out of vexing the X-Teams, though, starting with X-Men (1st series) #123. He has a rematch with Captain Britain and Courtney in Excalibur (1st series) #4 & 5.
This Issue has been reprinted in:
Captain Britain and the MI13 Vol 1: Secret Invasion (Trade Paperback)
Issue Summary written by: Ruth