Marvel Madness

That Time Dr. Doom and Arcade Took the X-Men to Murderworld

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Hey everybody, welcome back to Marvel Madness, my exploration into the weird and wacky world of Marvel Comics. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, and even longer that I’ve dealt with a story involving my main man, Doctor Victor Von Doom. I adore the man, and really have found a fascinating little trend where he becomes a foil for all sorts of random heroes. Don’t get me wrong, his never-ending feud with the Fantastic Four has lead to some of the best superhero comics of all time, but there’s something wonderful that happens when Doom goes to pester some other hero. Not every supervillain can hop into another heroes book and work well, but Doom does it perfectly. His little sojourns into other comics are usually some of the weirdest, most fun comics I read, so you know whenever I’m flipping through Marvel Unlimited and come across a cover with Dr. Doom on it, I’m going to get psyched. And even though I’m not the biggest fan of the X-Men, I found a pretty weird and fun little story this time, featuring one of my favorite X-Villains of them all. But that’s enough preamble, let’s jump on in!

The story begins with Storm out for an evening at the theater with Stevie Hunter, a woman who has been teaching Kitty Pride ballet. The two are trying to be friends, and head up to Professor Xavier’s private box. The two women make awkward chit chat and watch some boring ballet when a woman sneaks into the box, and grabs the two women on the shoulders. Storm and Stevie spin around and find that their intruder is a woman named Miss Locke, who announces she works for Arcade. Now, in case you aren’t familiar with Arcade, he’s basically the best. He’s an insane assassin who, instead of using conventional weapons, will kidnap his victims and bring them to his own private amusement park/death-trap called Murderworld where people are then pitted against insane traps and games of skill where they’re killed. Oh, and he looks like the Mad Magazine logo and dresses like a combination of a pimp and a clown. He’s great. But Storm has already dealt with Arcade, so she knows that this Locke is not to be trusted, and starts blasting her with hurricane winds. Unfortunately Locke has some device that can neutralize Storm’s winds, and also reveals that when she touched the women earlier she drugged them. So Storm starts to get woozy as Locke explain why she’s there. So the X-Men can save Arcade.

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Okay, so this is as good a time as any to explain that there’s a bit of an issue with this story. A lot of it seems to rely on having read that issue of Marvel Two-In-One that’s mentioned in the above panel, but that issue doesn’t appear to be on Marvel Unlimited, and I couldn’t read it. So I have no idea why Dr. Doom and Arcade are feuding, nor do I really understand what the two of them’s goal is for the rest of the story. But hey, who needs goals when we can just enjoy how goofy it is!

Anyway! Locke tells Storm that in order to ensure the X-Men’s help she’s kidnapped some of the X-Men’s friends and family, such as Jean Gray’s parents (despite the fact that Jean is already dead), Colossus’ sister, Nightcrawler’s girlfriend, and Moira McTaggert. And when she’s done telling Storm that, the toxin she slipped her takes effect and Storm passes out. When she awakes Locke and Stevie are gone, and Storm decides to go make sure that everything is legit. She goes to check on Nightcrawler’s girlfriend and the Gray’s, only to find that they are in fact missing. So with the evidence that Locke isn’t messing around, Storm heads to the X-Mansion to tell everyone what’s going on.She meets with Xavier, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus, and the team briefly call Beast, who is on the Avengers at this point, to ask about Dr. Doom, and he warns them not to take the dictator lightly. And with that knowledge, Professor Xavier decides they should just throw in the towel.

However, no one else is cool with just giving up, so Storm takes charge of the operation and comes up with a plan to stop Doom. The first part of which is to get reinforcements. So Professor Xavier starts using his mind powers to contact some former X-Men who are scattered around the globe. He calls Polaris and Havoc who are living in the Southwest working on their doctorates, Iceman who is hanging out in his college dorm drinking beer, and Banshee who is already on his way to America to save Moira. He also tries to call Cyclops, but can’t get a signal or something. But that doesn’t matter, because Scott is off pretending to be a seaman and is stranded on a desert island. But who cares about Cyclops? Not the X-Men apparently, because they just deal with Scott’s absence and make their plan.

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So the teams are made and the X-Men head off to accomplish their goals after briefly meeting with Kitty, who is sick. First we follow Storm’s team, who head out to meet Doom. And this is where things start to get silly, because it turns out Dr. Doom is staying at a castle build in New York’s Adirondack Mountains (what?) that used to belong to Doom but was sold to the mutant Toad (what?) who turned it into a failed amusement park (what!?). But clearly Doom has moved back in, so the X-Men get ready to assault Doom’s upstate castle.

And Storm decides that the direct approach is the best idea, and just flies down into the castle, lightning blazing. She catches the attention of the mercenaries that Doom has hired to protect the mansion, and quickly dispatches them. And that’s when Doom himself comes strutting out, seeing what the ruckus is. And, like a badass,  Storm just marches up to him and demands that he let her friends go. He’s pretty amused by the strength and fearlessness that this displays, and invites Storm in to have dinner with him and discuss things. Storm seems taken aback by  Doom’s civility, but goes for it, heading in to eat with the tyrant while the rest of her team starts sneaking into the castle.

Angel, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and Colossus all sneak into Doom’s mansion while Storm is occupying Doom, trying to find Arcade’s cell. They beat up some mercenaries and break into the castle, wandering the halls in an attempt to find the cell. But when they finally do come across the room that supposedly is housing Arcade, they’re shocked to find it empty. It’s a trap! Which is made especially clear when a group of mercenaries wearing special robotic suits there designed to take down the X-Men come walking in and start beating up the team. But I guess that’s okay, because Storm is busy having a lovely date with Dr. Doom…and actually enjoying herself?

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That’s…unexpected. Anyway, the date starts to turn pear-shaped when Doom calls in another special guest, and it turns out to be Arcade. Yep, Doom never took Arcade prisoner, they have some sort of deal worked out. Storm realizes that the whole thing has been a trap, and starts to fight Doom and Arcade, but is met with resistance when Doom’s gadgets nullify her powers, and he throws some little device at her which slowly transforms Storm into a chrome statue. She’s apparently alive in there, but can’t move or speak. So that’s not good. And things are made worse when the rest of Storm’s team come in, shocked at what they’re seeing. And that shock is in Doom’s favor when he springs into action and takes them all out with some sort of neural inhibitors that knock them unconscious and negate their powers. Good work X-Men!

Doom begins strutting around, pleased that he’s beaten the X-Men so handily, and starts chatting with Arcade, while hanging out with a robot of Storm that he must have hastily put together. Which would probably be a good time for them to explain just what the hell is going on, but no luck. It’s clear that Arcade owed Doom something, but I’m not quite sure what catching the X-Men was supposed to lead to. Doom doesn’t like Arcade, so he’s not helping him catch them, but I don’t know why Doom has any interest in the X-Men. Maybe he just wanted a date with Storm? I don’t know, he also seems to be studying the other X-Men, while sticking them in crazy booby-traps courtesy of Arcade.

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So yeah, Doom is “studying” the X-Men, by sticking them in goofy death-traps and seeing if they can escape. Nightcrawler is in a featureless white box, which he doesn’t know where it is. He can teleport, but since he can’t see where he is going, he can’t teleport out for fear that he’ll teleport into a wall and die. Colossus is chained to a giant rock, which in the middle of a whirlpool, slowly sinking, and being blasted by high-powered lasers. Wolverine is in some trippy anti-gravity chamber that’s randomly flashing light and has revolving checker-board patterned walls which keep him disorientated and unable to catch his bearings. And Angel is hilarious just in a giant birdcage that shoots lasers at him if he steps off the little pedestal. Oh, and Storm is still standing there in Doom’s room, frozen as a statue, and using her power to summon up a hell of a monster hurricane. Oh, and the hurricane is also wrecking havoc on Cyclops’ island, but once again, who cares about Cyclops?

Meanwhile, the other team is busy trying to free the kidnapped friends and family from Arcade’s Murderworld. They don’t really know where Murderworld is, but last time Arcade kidnapped them they were freed in an abandoned amusement park, so they assume that there are tunnels there that leads to Murderworld. They’re right of course, and quickly burrow down to the hidden base, Polaris using her magnetic abilities to fry all the electronics. But that doesn’t end up working for some reason, and a hologram of Miss Locke shows up, welcoming them to Murderworld. And as they stand there confused, four trap-doors open and the team is split up and sent into their own private deathtraps. Which are even goofier than the ones in Doom’s castle.

It starts off with Havoc, who is dropped onto a little roller coaster shaped like a rocket, and forced to participate in some real-life Space Invaders where little ships with real lasers start flying at him. Iceman gets to skate around in a hockey rink, against robot hockey players, while trying to escape before heaters melt the ice and they fall into some acid below. Polaris is oddly stuck on an insane carousel where evil robotic horses keep trying to bite her. And Banshee is stuck fighting robot cowboys and trying to free Moira from the tracks of a different roller coaster before she’s killed by a cart with the Gray’s in it.

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Things aren’t looking great for any of the X-Men. Well, that is until the Murderworld team finally gets their shit together. Havoc is able to get out of his roller coaster car and breaks through a wall into the rest of the compound. Meanwhile Polaris is able to use her abilities to escape the carousel and ends up getting tossed into Iceman’s rink. The two manage to get out of there before they land in the acid, and end up running into Banshee, who is still struggling to free Moira. They help him out and save some of the captives just as Havoc breaks into the main control room and knocks out Locke and the rest of Arcade’s henchmen. So they at least accomplished something, and as they pile the captives into their jet they begin to get worried about the weird storm that’s bearing down on them.

But back at Castle Doom, things are finally starting to happen. Arcade and Doom are hanging out in Doom’s throne room, making awkward chit chat about the weather. Doom is clearly getting weirded out, especially because he assumes that the thing he did to Storm to turn her into a statue would stop her mutant power from working. But an ungodly hurricane is the least of Doom’s worries, because in between mocking Dr. Doom’s stuffiness, Arcade points out that something has happened against their plan.

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Yep, it’s finally time for Storm’s team to start accomplishing something. Nightcrawler solved his death-trap by teleporting straight up, two miles. It ensured that he was able to get out of the castle and not get stuck in anything, but now he’s two miles up in the middle of the worst storm in recorded history. Luckily he’s able to sky-dive down, and use an up-draft to slow his decent enough to teleport down to the ground of the castle without splattering all over the ground. And while Nightcrawler is busy participating in a stunt that should be sponsored by Red Bull, the rest of the X-Men are getting out of their traps as well.

Colossus has realized that the energy weapons that threaten to blast him don’t work on things smaller than him, so he powers down to become a regular person again, and drops right past them. And once that’s accomplished he swims through the water and uses his power to punch a hole in the wall and escape. Meanwhile, Angel has realized that the lasers in his bird cage function like a maze, and he’s able to fly out without frying himself. And Wolverine is floating in his crazy sensory-deprivation tank, having vivid hallucinations until he’s able to throw himself at one of the walls, slashing it enough to break through and head up to Doom’s throne-room. He then breaks in, and Doom orders the Storm robot to attack him.

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Yeah, that didn’t work that great. Wolverine’s super-senses made it pretty easy to realize that that wasn’t the real Storm, and he just slashes it to pieces. Doom is a little surprised by that behavior, but he’s able to handle Wolverine pretty well on his own. That is until Nightcrawler shows up and starts helping out. With Nightcrawler’s help they’re able to subdue Doom, and make him agree to free Storm from her metal tomb. Doom gives them a device to fix Storm, and they free her. Which was a bad call,  because apparently Storm has been stewing in the metal form and is furious. She’s also apparently released some latent ability, and turned herself into some furious goddess with flaming hair and a whole lot of fury.

Doom is obviously freaked out by this, especially since Storm is infuriated about him capturing her. But the rest of the X-Men show up and start trying to talk her down from melting Doom with a barrage of lightning bolts. Doom suggests that the X-Men let him go to his lab and cook up something to kill Storm with, but they shoot that idea down and instead start reminding her of fun times they’ve had together, which calms her down enough to stop being so homicidal. At which point she stops the super-storm from destroying the country, and heads down to be with her friends as they apprehend Arcade and chat with Doom. I guess they learn that Doom had no plot, and that he’d been holding Arcade captive for whatever happened in that Marvel Two-In-One issue, and Locke kidnapped the people to spur the X-Men onto saving Arcade, but I still don’t understand why Doom wasn’t being mean to Arcade, and generally seemed to pal around with him. Whatever, we’ve reached the end of our story and get to my favorite part of a story where Dr. Doom meets a different hero, the awkward exchanging of pleasantries where Doom admits that the X-Men are pretty good, and even creepily asks Storm out on another date.

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So there you have it, the X-Men have bested both Dr. Doom and Arcade for reasons that I don’t fully understand! I really had a lot of fun with this story. I’ve talked before several times, but I’m not the biggest X-Men fan. They’re just a little too melodramatic, and there’s typically way too many characters to keep straight. But I love when they’re put in goofy stories like this. The team was a pretty solid one, although I certainly prefer Storm’s team to Havoc’s, and I adore Arcade as a villain. Seriously, Arcade is one of the weirdest and most fun Marvel villain out there, and he’s criminally underused. His whole shtick is so goofy and weird, and I love everything about him. All I want in this twisted world is a good X-Men movie where Arcade is the villain. Preferably played by Conan O’Brien. And of course, any time Dr. Doom shows up I’m a happy camper. He’s just such a perfect villain, and works in any situation. The X-Men are such a weird group of characters for Doom to deal with, and I really love how he’s just more fascinated with them than anything else. He doesn’t really deal with mutants that much, and seemed more interested in studying them that destroying them. Plus, what the hell was going on with him and Storm? I’m utterly fascinated by their interaction in this story, and the fact that they’re kind of into each other. I’m not sure if anything ever became of that interest, but I’m dying to find out.

Uncanny X-Men #145-147 were written by Chris Claremont, drawn by Dave Cockrum and Josef Rubinstein, lettered by Joe Rosen, and colored by Glynis Wein, 1981.

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