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Avengers Arena: The Next Level Pt. 2

Dennis Hopeless shifts his focus to Murder World master Arcade and what makes the villain tick!



Avengers Arena #7 cover by Dave Johnson

By Paul Montgomery

With the mounting machinations of AVENGERS ARENA, twisted master of ceremonies Arcade has truly stepped up his game. Back from the brink of early retirement, the wily emcee now hosts a savage battle royal between some of the world’s most troubled young heroes. Arcade’s level of control over this lush and lethal iteration of Murder World stands unprecedented, affording him godlike control over a vast, subterranean arena.

Invigorated by the violent actions of his contestants, Arcade readies to take AVENGERS ARENA to the next level. No codes. No save points. Brace yourselves for sudden death.

We spoke to writer Dennis Hopeless about Arcade’s newfound mastery of the most dangerous game. With AVENGERS ARENA #7, we learned a lot more about Arcade's motivations, as well as the nature of Murder World. Would you consider that flashback a turning point in your portrayal of Arcade, moving forward? 

Avengers Arena #9 preview art by Kev Walker

Dennis Hopeless: Well, issue #7 [showed] Arcade’s transformation from classic Arcade to the man we met in [issue] #1. It’s definitely a turning point for the character, but the events in the issue took place before our series started. It was an excuse to pull back the curtain and show the hows and whys of this “new” Arcade. When we were plotting the series, I had to get inside Arcade’s head and figure him out. If we were going to change his tactics and give him a harder edge, I wanted there to be reasons for all of it. I have several notebook pages full of Arcade back story working it all out. Issue #7 let us move some of that from my notebook to the comic page. It was a lot of fun to take a little break and share that stuff. Arcade's relationship with his former assistant Coriander, the real brains behind this new Murder World, falls into the "It's Complicated" category. What is the dynamic, exactly? Is there still a twisted sort of affection there? 

Avengers Arena #9 preview art by Kev Walker

Dennis Hopeless: I think Coriander is pretty clearly in love with Arcade. I’m not sure he’s at all conscious of it but, he is a narcissistic megalomaniacal sociopath. You aren’t the first person to suggest Coriander is responsible for the new Murder World. That’s interesting. In my mind, they did it together. Coriander provided the last piece to the puzzle. She built Murder World to Arcade’s specifications with one important change: It was her idea to give him godlike superpowers within the game. She knew him well enough to see what he had missed. She let him be a character in his own game. Neither of them could have built this thing without the other. Unfortunately, Arcade doesn’t like to share. Arcade's house is awesomely decked-out with pinball themed topiaries. As vile as he is, as sad as he is, there has to be part of you that wants to hang out with this guy, which explains the rogues who wouldn't otherwise be bothered, but have taken advantage of him in order to spend time at his amazing crib. 

Dennis Hopeless: Yeah, Arcade’s the kid we all knew who had a bedroom and two playrooms. He had Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and his older brother’s Atari. He had the USS Flagg, Snake Mountain, Castle Greyskull, the Thundercats Lair and every action figure that went with them. You wanted to play at that kid’s house even if you hated his guts.

Arcade is what happens when that kid grows up to be a contract killer.

Oh, by the way, he isn’t really 29. He’s just vain.

Avengers Arena #9 preview art by Kev Walker Roles reversed, would Arcade fair alright in a battle royal like this? Having engineered so many games, does he have a reasonable expectation of surviving one himself, or does he game the system so much as dungeon master that he'd never cope as a player? 

Dennis Hopeless: He certainly thinks he could win. I think in this particular case, he’d have the strategic advantage of enjoying murder. At some point I think everyone left would gang up on Arcade. It’s hard to make allies when everyone hates you. Do you think he has a horse in this race? A favorite? 

Dennis Hopeless: I think he has several. Arcade is the kind of guy who makes 20 different NCAA tournament brackets and plays in five fantasy football leagues.

Pre-order AVENGERS ARENA #9, on sale Wednesday, May 8!

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