Monday, December 17, 2012

How Dennis Hopeless Sold Me on Arcade

I hate the Marvel villain Arcade.

He's always been a placeholder villain. He’s the “threat” writers historically bring in to face the X-Men between a battle with Magneto and a showdown with The Sentinels. Every Arcade story is the same, too. The heroes of whatever book he’s turned up in are out doing something normal when their suddenly kidnapped, typically knocked unconscious, and then awake in... you know what? Let Arcade explain it himself...

Arcade’s voice comes over the speaker, talks some shit about fun and games, blah, blah, blah, and then we have the next 16 pages of the X-Men, or Fantastic Four, or some other character throwing down in what I can only assume started out as Marvel’s attempt to do their own version of The Joker. We’re told how crazy Arcade is. Hell, Arcade does nothing but talk about how crazy he is. But he’s more annoying than anything. As a reader you know when Arcade is billed as the villain of the month you’re pretty safe in skipping that particular issue knowing that absolutely no one is in danger of dying or even getting hurt.

That said...

Damn if writer Dennis Hopeless didn’t accomplish the impossible last week making Arcade an actual, effectual bad guy in Avengers Arena 1.

To be clear, I picked up Avengers Arena because it was a light week for comics and I wasn’t aware that Arcade was going to be the big bad. Had I known, I wouldn’t be writing this piece right now. Like I said, if Arcade’s there, I’m out.

So what did Hopeless do differently than other writers over the last thirty-some-odd years? For starters, Arcade has been inspired by pop culture to go darker…

With a nudge and a wink, Hopeless presents an Arcade who, for the first time ever, actually comes across like a very real and very serious threat. Whenever he speaks to these children, there’s an edge of terror. And kudos to artist Kev Walker who renders an Arcade with body language just as frightening as his words.

Oh, then there’s the fact Arcade actually wracks up a body count and it’s fucking gruesome…

As a comic book fan who’s always hated this particular character with the white hot rage of a thousand burning suns, I’m honestly giddy to see what Hopeless does with the character over the course of the series. He’s made me feel as if I’m seeing the character for the first time despite having seen him in countless times before. And maybe I am seeing him for the first time because no one has ever managed to make this particular villain worth seeing.


  1. It's all very "Battle Royale," isn't it?

  2. O, no doubt. And this is called out in the comic itself (Hell, just look at the cover). But, to my thinking, Arcade's potential for getting there first was always there, but never fully realized. If that's what it takes for me not to cringe at his appearance, I'm totally fine with that.

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  4. I just hope there is a plausible explanation for his sudden new-found powers and his growth spurt.

  5. wow, Arcade looks badass... words I thought I'd never say.

  6. @Jeff- When it comes to Arcade, I'm willing to forget everything that's happened up to this point I've historically hated him that much.

    @Joe Ben- Couldn't agree more.


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