November 1977: Marvel Team Up 66 – In which we learn contractors love Arcade

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Synopsis: Marvel Team Up 66 features Spider-Man along with Captain Britain in the second half of a story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. This part opens with Cap and Spidey waking up inside clear plastic spheres. Before they know what’s going on, they are  propelled at speed into what looks like a giant pinball machine, mainly because it is a giant pinball machine.

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This is part of Murderworld, the complex operated by the villain Arcade, who uses elaborate death-traps to perform contract killings. With their combined strength, the pair escape and start to make their way out. Arcade seperates the two using trap doors, forcing them to face different traps alone. Arcade also points out to Captain Britain that his friend Courtney Ross (who is very much the object of affection for Brian Braddock, Captain Britain’s secret identity) is in Murderworld and is now at great risk, but if he finds her, she will be safe. He passes fun-house mirrors and is then attacked by distorted duplicates of himself.

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Spider-Man meanwhile avoids being shot by robot cowboys and drone space ships and realising that thinking his  way out will be the best approach, pulls panels of the walls next to him and makes his way into Murderworld’s maintenance shafts where Miss Locke and Mr Chambers, Arcade’s employees, help to keep Murderworld running. Once there, Spider-Man starts smashing stuff, putting stress on Muderworld’s systems, Arcade ignores this fact as he continues to send dangers after the two heroes, enjoying the whole thing like a child playing with a new toy.

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Spider-Man finds Captain Britain, currently drowning and the two find and retrieve Courtney, before gas fills the room, by now the strain has gotten to Murderworld and several machines start exploding.

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The two escape and are found by Capt DeWollf of the NYPD. They are told that the contract on Captain Britain has been cancelled, while Arcade plans to do this all again, once Murderworld is rebuilt.

Relevance:  This is one of the earliest, if not the earliest Arcade story and another issue by the Byrne/Claremont team which helped create the comics juggernaut that is X-Men. It was also an early appearance by Captain Britain in US comics, so really the relevant stuff came later, but this is the beginnings of these things.

Notes: I like this issue, but it seems a little light on the story side. It mainly feels like a showcase for the characters more than a story in and of itself. Claremont does the whole slightly over-writing everything, but his characterisation of Arcade is great, Arcade isn’t a super villain in the traditional sense, he’s neither money or power orientated and revenge doesn’t really do much for him either, this is fun. So much fun that when his base is near destroyed and his victims escape, he isn’t angry, he’s excited. After a career of simple kills, super heroes provide a greater challenge and when they win, he gives them a tip of the hat and a promise to try again. This comic was fun, mainly because the characters in it were having fun, true they were the villains, but hey no comic is perfect. While a bit of a let down, it was a worthwhile read.

Next Time: Ms Marvel and the Defenders

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