X-Men (1st series) #124

Issue Date: 
August 1979
Story Title: 
He only laughs when I hurt

Chris Claremont (co-plotter, scripter), John Byrne (co-plotter, penciller), Terry Austin (inker), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Glynis Wein (colorist), Roger Stern (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Arcade relishes his latest Murderworld project - the extermination of the X-Men. A brainwashed Colossus, believing himself to be a traitor to the Rodina, faces Cyclops and Wolverine, and without wishing to hurt their colleague, their options are limited. After Arcade provides a history about himself to Colleen Wing, he looks in on the action, but finds both Cyclops and Wolverine disappearing behind revolving doors. He checks in on Ororo, who finds herself at the mercy of ever increasing waters. Cyclops emerges in Nightcrawler’s section and destroys several drones before escaping. Wolverine comes across Banshee and uses his advanced senses to clear an escape route; directly into the path of Magneto and the Hulk. Storm, meanwhile, manages to overload the pipes feeding the water into her chamber, as Cyclops finds Banshee and Wolverine. He destroys Magneto, who turns out to be a robot, whilst Wolverine takes down the robot Hulk. They are then washed up in a flood, courtesy of Storm. With four of them freed, Nightcrawler is the only one now captive; gassed by Mr. Chambers after attacking Arcade directly. Colossus manages to track the X-Men down, but his brainwashing is overcome by kind words from Storm and Cyclops. Arcade realizes his plans have come to nothing and decides to free the X-Men, as well as Nightcrawler and the three female captives he took earlier. The team find themselves in a Bronx amusement park, and have to be content that, this time at least, they emerged relatively unscathed.

Full Summary: 

Arcade is in hysterics over his latest scheme, laughing so hard he is crying. He watches a large monitor on which he can see Colossus, now believing himself to be the Proletariat, in combat with Cyclops and Wolverine. Arcade’s three female captives sit helpless in gift-wrapped capsules behind him, and he hopes they’re enjoying the show as much as he is.

Colleen Wing says he should at least have the decency to kill them quickly, but Arcade strolls over to them and explains that at least they have a chance this way. She tells him he’s insane, but he simply kisses her and says he’s as crazy as a loon; has been for years. Colleen is furious, and says if her hands were free, she’d give him something a lot stronger than a kiss. She asks what kind of sewer he crawled out of, anyway.


Arcade explains that he was your basic spoiled rich kid, hanging out by the pool with friends. When he turned 21, daddy said he was no good and cut off his allowance. The next day, Arcade cut off daddy’s life, killing him in a car explosion. He realized he had a unique talent for murder and, within a year, was the best hit man in the States. He was bored stiff. Any fool can kill, but he wanted to do it with style.

He decided to combine his genius with daddy’s fortune and created Murderworld - the world’s first assassination amusement park. It was an instant success, but he was bored killing people. He needed a greater challenge. Along came Misses Roak and Moran, members of the European Maggia hierarchy. The offered him a contract on an English super hero: Captain Britain. He agreed to take the job and ended up with two heroes for the price of one. Cap and Spider-Man faced Murderworld, but managed to survive the experience.

He was getting ready for a rematch with the wall-crawler, when he was visited by Black Tom Cassidy and his friend, the Juggernaut. They wanted him to take out the X-Men. Capturing them was a cinch, and he managed to snag them, and take the three ladies as an added bonus. They never knew what hit ‘em.


He adds that he had high hopes for tonight’s game and, so far, he hasn’t been disappointed. He checks on the merry mutant’s progress, starting with Cyclops and Wolverine, who are faced with the brainwashed Colossus.

Cyclops tries to talk sense into Colossus, asking why he’s doing this, but Colossus insists he is no longer the Colossus they knew; he is the Proletariat! Wearing red dungarees and sporting a red cap, he deflects Scott’s optic blast with his steel hand, and tells Cyclops that they turned him against his motherland; tricked him into betraying all he ever loved. For that, they will pay.

Wolverine leaps at him, reminding Piotr that he joined the X-Men of his own free will. If he’s betrayed anyone’s trust, he’s betrayed theirs. He’s always wondered if his adamantium claws would cut his steel hide. Claws unleashed, he tries but fails to connect with his skin, as Piotr grabs the diminutive Canadian with one hand and throws him effortlessly towards Cyclops, who ducks.

Colossus insists his mission is to destroy the X-Men, and Cyclops realizes that words aren’t going to stop this rampage. His only real chance is to use a full strength optic blast; but that much power could cripple him, or worse. Wolverine, meanwhile, knows his attempt was stupid. Piotr’s a lot faster than he looks. He is about to hit the wall, when, suddenly, it begins to revolve, taking him with it. Scott tries to follow but the door seals behind Wolverine, leaving him with the problem of stopping Colossus.

The big guy grabs Cyclops and hurls him across the room as easily as he did Wolverine. Scott doesn’t have Logan’s unbreakable bones but, fortunately, the opposite wall again opens to reveal a revolving door, saving him from a crunching impact. Cyclops puts his fist to his forehead and says he is glad he has failed to kill them, but then questions his own thoughts. Are they not enemies of the state? Colonel Vazhin of the KGB told him so; his voice, the lights, burning through to his very soul. He showed Piotr where his duty lay. He must find the X-Men, and this time he must not fail!

Arcade watches. He knows that Piotr must have some real fundamental doubts about being an X-Man and to have been brainwashed so quickly and completely. He decides to look in on Storm.

Ororo is gliding on the air currents after evading Arcade’s lightning trap. Somehow, he can manipulate the environment in this room, artificially countering her natural ability to control the elements. Once again, a vicious downdraft proves too powerful for her to remain airborne, and she plunges into the water below. By the time she emerges, the water level has risen considerably, leaving only a few inches between the surface and the ceiling.

Elsewhere, Cyclops falls down a chute and finds himself in the arena where Nightcrawler was attacked by robotic drones with circular saw accessories. Kurt still lies in the middle of the room, helpless as one of the drones closes in, fast. Cyclops quickly makes shrapnel of the drone and rushes over to help his teammate. He discovers Kurt bleeding, but it’s only a scratch. He tells Scott that, if he knew where they were, he could teleport them out of this verdammt nightmare. More cars emerge from the walls and their predicament just gets a whole lot scarier.

Arcade is enjoying himself. He decides to check in on Wolverine, who by now is alongside Banshee in the strange infinite room. Now, instead of fighter planes, it looks like the latest episode of Battlestarwars 1999. Sean immediately asks Wolverine if he’s real, and he replies that he’s real confused. Sean tells him that they’re inside a monstrous hologram, but some of the ships are firing real lasers. If his throat were healed, he could use his sonic radar to determine which is which. Without it, he’s helpless. Wolverine’s senses, however, are in perfect working order, and he throws Banshee to the ground, as a ship attacks. He didn’t realize the injury to Banshee had been this serious.

His senses tell him there is a wall next to him, so he digs his adamantium claws into it and rips off a panel filled with circuitry. It’s a maintenance tunnel; a way out. They peer inside and realize that this may not be the case. Inside the tunnel stand Magneto and the Hulk, and Magneto informs them that there’s no escape from Murderworld. Arcade giggles to himself. Spider-Man already found that escape route, and nobody uses the same way out twice.

Meanwhile, in what could well become a watery grave, Storm knows she must move fast and not panic. She remembers her training. She dumps her boots and cape, which would only slow her down. She then surfaces for as many breaths as she can get. Like a pearl diver, she saturates her lungs with oxygen before taking a final breath. Then, she ventures deep into the tunnel towards a possible exit. She knows the water has to be entering from a pipe or vent, so she either finds it, or she dies within minutes.

Ororo comes across a vent below her and, manifesting her power as lightning, shoots a single continuous bolt directly into the pipe. She hopes the electrical arc will melt the welds that seal the pipe together, rupturing it and washing her to freedom. The question is, what will give first, the pipe or her lungs?

Not that far away, Cyclops and Nightcrawler scamper around the room, trying to avoid the drones. Cyclops uses a unique inborn talent for geometry, honed by months of practice in the Danger Room to bounce his optic blasts off the walls and into each and every drone. They explode and this gives them a little breathing space. Kurt is astonished by the skilful display and Scott admits he hasn’t tried that stunt in ages. It’s nice to know the old skills haven’t atrophied, he adds.

He blasts them an exit and they crawl into another maintenance tunnel, which looks deserted. Cyclops hates to split them up, but orders Kurt to take the main tunnel above them, while he takes the branch line. He asks Kurt to find any other X-Men, then find Arcade’s control center and trash it.

In the control center, Mr. Chambers tells Arcade that there’s trouble. Storm is generating more power than the system can absorb. They can’t hold her much longer. Miss Locke says she has taken care of the girls, so that’s one less thing for him to worry about. He asks for a computer search pattern to try and find the missing Cyclops and Nightcrawler.

Cyclops bends slightly as he makes his way through the branch line. He reckons the tunnel is probably crammed with sensors and Arcade’s bound to find them, sooner or later. He suddenly stops, hearing a fight taking place through the tunnel wall. His optic blast rips a hole in it and he emerges to find Banshee and Wolverine in battle with Hulk and Magneto. Wolverine tells the Hulk, as he slashes at its green skin, that he’s been waiting months for a rematch. Too bad he ain’t the real thing. Each slash reveals the Hulk to be a robot.

Back in Arcade’s control center, he is enjoying Wolverine’s craziness. It reminds him of himself. He informs Miss Locke to forget about Cyclops. According to the monitors, he just joined his chums, making his usual dramatic entrance. He asks her to just find Nightcrawler. At that moment, Kurt is positioned directly beside the control center, listening through the grid. His mutant body becomes almost transparent in the shadows, but why hide. It’ll be more fun teleporting. He bamfs and appears right next to the shocked Arcade, who falls backwards from his chair.

Miss Locke fires at Nightcrawler with a shotgun, but Nightcrawler grabs it and, despite not usually making a habit of striking beautiful women, punches her in the face, knocking her unconscious. He then uses the weapon to blast the monitors, as Arcade calls for Mr. Chambers to use the gas. Sure enough, jets of gas are forced in through the floor which takes out the helpless Nightcrawler.

At that moment, unaware of Nightcrawler’s fate, Cyclops takes out the Magneto robot, as Wolverine finishes off his opponent. He asks Sean if he’s okay, but his answer shows Scott how dispirited he seems to be. Out of nowhere, a flood hits them and takes them off their feet. When it subsides, they discover Ororo lying on the floor. Scott holds her. She’s unconscious and barely breathing. He offers mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and, for a long time nothing happens. Then, with a spluttering cough, Ororo wakes and Scott asks her not to try speaking.

Their relief, however, is short and sweet. Colossus is still brainwashed and ready for action. He finds them. Banshee, unaware of Piotr’s condition, is pleased to see him. He was worried. Piotr smashes him in the face, sending the hapless Banshee flying backwards through the air. Wolverine attacks Colossus, but finds the big man’s muscle enough to keep him at bay. Cyclops knows that Ororo is too weak to use her powers and he’s half drowned himself.

Piotr seems determined to kill them and Ororo explains that they’re his friends, as he grasps her fragile neck in his huge fist. Grabbing Scott in the other, he tells her she lies, as Charles Xavier lied when he used his cursed mental powers to cloud his reason and subvert his loyalty to Mother Russia. How his treason must have hurt his momma and poppa and his little sister. He has shamed his family, and himself. Scott realizes he has been brainwashed and knows their only chance is to talk him down.

He asks Piotr to remember where he is. This is Murderworld, and everything he’s been told comes from Arcade. Ororo tells him that when she was a little girl she grew up alone, no family and no real friends. That all changed when she joined the X-Men. Scott adds that it changed all of them. He explains that the X-Men is more than just a school for mutants and, deep down, he must know that. Piotr listens, confused but attentive. Scott says they are a family and, as a tear makes its way down Ororo’s cheek, she confirms that they are, indeed, a family. They could never lie to him or betray him. They love him. “Don’t you see, Peter, you are the brother I never had.” Piotr snaps out of his mental miasma. “Me, like a brother? Yes, yes it’s true.” He releases them from his grasp and hugs them, asking if they can ever forgive him.

Arcade clicks a switch, and says, “Ah, well. You can’t win ‘em all.” Colossus tells his friends that it was all so easy to believe. Arcade’s robot portrayed a real KGB colonel, a national hero like cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, or their Nicholas Fury. His accusations echoed his own real doubts about being an X-Man. “Doubts?!” queries Cyclops. Before he can pursue that line of enquiry, the malleable floor folds up and surrounds them. It forms a tight sphere and they are propelled on a jet of water through a hole in the roof, through a tunnel and out of Murderworld. They emerge safely into a lake at the end of the Tunnel of Love ride. It takes some considerable time, but they are safe. It is evening in this abandoned Bronx amusement center and, for a while, the metal ball lazily bobs in the still waters, before ripping open and freeing the X-Men inside.

Colossus asks if he is dreaming. He helps Ororo to shore as what appear to be fireworks explode behind them. They soon realize that they are not fireworks, but their friends Betsy, Amanda and Colleen, as well as Kurt, trussed up and drifting gently to the ground by parachute. They are helped out of their capsules and Scott reads an attached note from Arcade.

‘Round one to you X-Men. Till next time. Arcade.’

Scott thinks he sure has a strange sense of humor, but reckons the fight is over. Not for Wolverine it ain’t. Arcade owes him for all the lumps he’s taken tonight, and he aims to collect. Scott asks him to think, not talk, as the note disintegrates in the palm of his hand. He asks how they’re going to find him. Is Murderworld beneath their feet, or a hundred miles away? This park is private property and they have no legal right to conduct a search, or any authority to make an arrest. Logan asks who’s talking about arrests; his extended claws clearly showing his intentions should he get his mitts on Arcade. Scott reasons that they can’t even prove he committed a crime. If they tackle him now, they’ll probably be the ones who get busted. They should quit while they’re ahead.

Logan says, “You call this ahead?” He doesn’t like losing or running. Neither does Cyclops but, sometimes, he explains, there’s no other way to play the cards. Arcade wanted them dead. They trashed his setup and forced him to let them go. Like it or not, they’ll have to be content with that; this time.

Characters Involved: 

Banshee, Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)


Miss Locke and Mr. Chambers

Colleen Wing

Amanda Sefton

Betsy Wilford

Hulk and Magneto robots

(in flashback)

Arcade and friends

Construction workers

Murderworld victim

Mssrs. Roak and Moran

Captain Britain


Black Tom Cassidy and the Juggernaut

Alexei Vazhin robot


(on monitors)

Banshee, Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Story Notes: 

Captain Britain and Spider-Man encountered Murderworld back in Marvel Team-Up (1st series) #65 – 66.

The Maggia is an international crime syndicate, dedicated to conventional crime, as opposed to subversive activities. Among others, its members have included Silvermane, Hammerhead, Count Nefaria, Whiplash and Plantman.

A robot Alexei Vazhin brainwashed Piotr in the previous issue.

Miss Locke’s comment about having taken care of the girls isn’t really explained. By the end of the issue, they are still in the capsules and parachuting to safety. It is questionable whether she actually did anything.

Wolverine fought the Hulk previously in The Incredible Hulk (1st series) #180 - 181, his debut appearance.

Yuri Gagarin was a famous Russian cosmonaut who, in 1961, became the first man in space.

Issue Information: 
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