Lenin leggings and a matching hat

Ryhmä-X 1/1985 Cover
Ryhmä-X 1/1985 Cover

It took me two days to finish Ryhmä-X 1/1985 and I blame it solely on Arcade. As I promised in my last post I’m going to dwell on this subject through this post.

The plot

Well that’s straightforward. The X-Men are caught by Arcade, placed inside Murderworld, face a few ridiculous challenges, and escape almost without a scratch. There, I’ve just described every Arcade/Murderworld story for you. (This one was from X-Men 123-124.)

Luckily the magazine also contained the beginning of an older X-Men story from X-Men 65, published in 1970. I must again congratulate the early writers, because after only a few pages I got the full picture of what had just happened and what were the relations between all the characters.  The story features a wandering planet, Z’Nox, that’s about to pass Earth, which will cause major earthquakes, and the “people” living on the wandering planet also have hopes of conquering Earth. The X-Men have to stop this, of course. The interesting part was that Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. were already existent at that point and were also trying to stop Z’Nox. For some reason I thought they were a later invention. The story ends when X-Men infiltrate Z’Nox and meet their first opponent. The story will continue in the following issue.

But let’s return to Arcade for now…

Who is Arcade and what is Murderworld?

Arcade is an assassin who inherited tons of money and built himself a place called Murderworld.  In the Murderworld Arcade has built a giant pinball machine and traps designed specifically for a certain hero. I believe he thinks it’s a deadly game of some sort, but so far nobody has ever died there, so go figure.

For example in Ryhmä-X 1/1985 all the X-Men wake up in separate balls in a giant pinball machine of some sorts. When Arcade pulls the lever, all the balls go around this huge machine and finally end up each in one hole which leads the character inside to a trap room.

Ryhmä-X 1/1985 Murderworld pinball machine
Murderworld pinball machine.
  • Cyclops ends up in a room with three doors and is told to choose one. Arcade explains one of the doors leads to freedom when they actually all have deadly traps behind them. The solution: Cyclops has to shoot himself through a wall to escape alive. Very cunning! *facepalm*
  • Nightcrawler ends up in a room with bumpercars with deadly circlesaws attached to them. The solution: go through a wall.
  • Banshee ends up in a holographic room where some real and some holographic planes attack him. The solution: go through a wall.
  • Storm is trapped in a room filling with water. She’s claustrophobic, a flaw which every storyteller is happy to use. The solution: find where the water is coming and – as we later find out – go through a wall.
  • Wolverine ends up in a hallway filled with those “funny mirrors”. Except that in this case out of each mirror steps out a robot looking like one of Wolverine’s skewed images. Solution: Find trapdoor and go through “the wall”.
  • Colossus ends up in a room where a KGB agent confronts him for turning his back to the Soviet Union, brainwashing him to wear some pretty silly overalls with a picture of Lenin. *double facepalm* Colossus ends up bashing his friends until they tell him they love him and think of him as part of their family, blah blah blah. I have no idea what could have been his solution out of the situation, but I think it involves going through a wall.

What is it about Arcade?

Now, that is a good question, because I’m having hard time finding the exact reasons why Arcade rubs me the wrong way. But at least I’m not the only one. There is a thread called “Could there be a worse villain than Arcade?” on the Jinxworld forums. Most people in the thread agree with me – there couldn’t. But having read almost the whole conversation, I still got no solid reason why he’s so irritating. And as weird as it is, he also has his fans. Kurt Russel Crowe says:  “Arcade is awesome. He’s actually different than most other villains. He hasn’t been used and written well very much, if at all, but it only takes one good story. Tons of potential, as has been said.” I fail to see the potential, but Kurt has a point.

I have yet to see a good Arcade story. The problem is the story is always the same, solve puzzle, get out. The characters very seldom get anything out from the experience. The characters never have to take a look into themselves or come up with some clever surprising solution, they just use their regular superpowers and it’s game over. Wow! I’m so NOT impressed.

The other problem with the stories is that they are just so frivolous. Do I really want to spent my time watching how X-Men roll around in a huge pinball machine? Is it entertaining at any level to read how they get minor electric shocks every time their ball hits one of those pinball-buffers? Do I even need to answer.

And one more problem: Arcade himself is a very unlikable character – very one-dimensional. Where Magneto is a charming person and is acting out mostly to get back at humans for the wrongs he had to endure in his youth in concentration camps, Arcade is “just evil”. In Ryhmä-X 1/1985 he reveals he was a spoiled child from a rich family and when his father had enough of him, Arcade murdered him to get his money and built Murderworld. I suppose eveybody needs a hobby.

Ryhmä-X 1/1985 Arcade being an ass.
Arcade being an ass. In the background those three poor women he also kidnapped, who had to spent the whole time in the same room with him. I think they are the true losers in this game.

Arcade is also drawn to possess very unlikable facial features, and he’s like a very badly behaving, annoying child you just want to kick in the nuts because you feel so helpless and can’t find any other solution to make him stop. I bet all of you have met one child like that in your life. You know the feeling.

Ryhmä-X 1/1985 Cyclops talking "puuppa"
1) "How do we find him? Is the Murderworld beneath us or a hundred miles away? This place is private area and we have no right to be here and even less right to arrest anybody." 2) "Who's talking about arresting him?" 3) "Wolverine, he let us go. We can't even prove he broke the law at any point."

Another thing that really made the hair on my neck curl was how this story ends. Finally the X-Men have defeated all the obstacles and are united a big happy family. Arcade pushes a button, sealing all X-Men inside yet another ball, and the ball is shot to freedom. They find themselves from an abandoned amusement park, with a note saying they have won this round and are free to leave. Wolverine is in a killing mood, but Scott stops him saying: “How do we find [Arcade]? Is the Murderworld beneath us or a hundred miles away? This place is private area and we have no right to be here and even less right to arrest anybody.” I must agree with Wolverine, who says: “Who’s talking about arresting him?” Scott continues: “Wolverine, he let us go. We can’t even prove he broke the law at any point.”

Well, my dearest Cyclops… Kidnapping (page 5) withnessed by Spider-Man. Illegal entry, two more kidnappings, illegal threats (p. 8-10) witnessed by Spiderman (admittedly via phone). Also if the X-Men don’t want to get up on the witness stand themselves, they can always send their three dates in their place, who were also kidnapped by Arcade, who also kissed one of them without her consent (I think that counts as sexual harrassment, p. 21). The fact that they don’t know where the Murderwold is or the fact that they were dumped on a private (but abandoned) area, doesn’t make the crimes nonexistent in the court. Finding Arcade to face the allegation might be another matter, but really. Scott, why you so… *shakes her head in agony*

Ryhmä-X 1/1985 Temper, temper!
1) "After I'm finished them.." 2) "..I'll come after you." 3) "Nooooooooo!" Hmmm, maybe he doesn't want to press charges after all, because then he'd have to explain what happened to that phone booth.

Well, that really had nothing to do with Arcade himself and perhaps more with bad writing. Arcade stories also tend to treat their victims with a lack of respect. I mean, just look at Colossus in those Soviet overalls. It’s just ridiculous and I’m not sure who should have his feelings more hurt by this, me or Colossus. I’m going to end this post with a picture of those red Lenin overalls. Over and out.

Ryhmä-X 1/1985 Lenin overalls
1) "Cyclops, this is sick. That's not a robot, that really is Colossus!" 2) "I'm no more an X-man, the traitor of my people and my motherland." 2) "I'm now the hero of the workers of the Soviet Union... PROLETARIAN!" 3) "My first mission is to crush the X-Men!"



The magazine was sour like a tomb

Ryhmä-X 3/1984 Cover
Ryhmä-X 3/1984 Cover

Ryhmä-X 3/1984 didn’t impress me as much as the previous issues.

The Plot

The stories in the magazine had small bits and pieces of the previous story and hints of things to come, but the new adventure didn’t quite pick up yet. First the X-Men were forced to make a stop at Canada where they had to fight off Alpha Flight, who were trying to get Wolverine back (he was slated to become a member of the Alpha Flight). It seems this was the first time X-Men and the Alpha Flight met. From Mail Man (editor for the Finnish magazine, also answers reader mail questions) I gathered this was probably the first assigment ever for the Alpha Flight – or the complete Alpha Flight, since the leader of the group called James Hudson/”Vartija” (Guardian) had apparently fought X-Men or at least Wolverine before. In the end Wolverine decides to surrender to the Alpha Flight to avoid his friends getting hurt, but escapes off-screen, joining the rest of the X-Men on their flight back home.

In the last story we find out both Lilandra and Xavier preparing for her coronation. Jean Grey meets a mysterious rather fine looking man called Jason Wyngarde and is instantly drawn to him. This is, of course, the beginning of the story which leads to the birth of Dark Phoenix. Meanwhile Scott/Cyclops is getting all the more friendly and beyond with Colleen Wing, whom he met in Ryhmä-X 2/1984. So not only could have he not cared about Jean’s presumed death, he already has picked himself a new dame to go out with. Men… >:( I hope there will be an explanation for all this even though I must say I never liked him.

The last image or Ryhmä-X 3/1984: Arcade
No, not this! Please, not a Murderworld story!

And the last thing, the magazine ends with a horrible image: “Armoton” (Arcade, the Finnish name means literally “merciless”). That can only mean one thing: Murderworld. I hate it. I think the Murderorld stories are crap (Trust me, I’m so going to dwell on this subject on my next post.) and so it was also in that one level in Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Ungh! <:(

(edit: originally published in X-Men 120-122)

Marvel teaches a thing or two about Egyptology, too!

I study Egyptology at the University of Helsinki. Since I was a child I have always been very interested in ancient Egypt and that means that wherever I see a reference to ancient Egypt, I always take notice and make that the most important aspect of whatever the reference was.

Well, I would have never thought running into ancient Egypt reading Marvel magazines. Wait, that’s not true. I think Mister Sinister had something to do with ancient Egypt or at least the pyramids. Well, whatever. Let’s say I wasn’t expecting it when it happened. Scott and Colleen are sitting at some cafe or maybe a railwaystation, sharing a table, drinking coffee. Scott asks: “Colleen, olenko minä hapan?” / “Colleen, am I sour?” (I have no idea of the original text, this is a literal translation from Finnish) and Colleen answers: “Kuin kuningas Tutin hauta.” / “Like king Tut’s tomb.”

Sour like king Tut's tomb?
1) "Colleen, am I sour?" 2) "Like Kind Tut's tomb."


Well, I have never had a taste of Tutankhamon‘s tomb, but I doubt it’s sour. Having eaten Egyptian bread with some sand in it, I’d say the tomb tastes most likely of sand, i.e. ground, and as I remember it from my childhood trying to eat those sandcakes sand doesn’t taste sour.

What might have been the original word they had used instead of sour? When I think of Tutankhamon’s tomb I think it’s dry. Could Scott have asked, if he’s a dry person to hang around and Colleen did her best to comply and insult him in the progress? Not very likely. And anyway, they could have just used the Finnish word “kuiva” for dry.

I also thought of another explanation. Maybe they were not talking about Tutankhamon at all but “tutti” (pacifier in Finnish -> genetive case: “tutin”). Maybe a sour king of pacifiers could be thrown away and buried in a tomb or grave (both good translations for “hauta”). But who would ever think of such a scenario when their man is asking them if he is sour? What a weird metaphor. Explanations, anyone? :-/