Marvel Comics is embarking on a new series of one-shots revolving around Arcade’s Murderworld. Written by Jim Zub and Ray Fawkes, the series launches today, featuring art by Jethro Morales. Given the cover that features Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor, one might expect a superhero showdown, but when it comes to Arcade, expect the unexpected.
Kicking off a new narrative with the main character of an everyday YouTuber is a bold idea, but it works with Murderworld: Avengers #1. The issue starts with a moderately successful YouTuber who captures footage that always seems to translate to views and a growing audience. Recently he’s researched urban legends, which is where Murderworld comes into play. Soon he’s gifted the chance to experience Murderworld and capture it all on camera…or so he thinks.
You’ll likely connect with this story if you have watched YouTubers like Mr. Beast. It’s not that hard to believe a person could get themselves into this situation, especially given the rise of content creators on the internet. The main character only seeks to grow his brand, but focusing on content puts him in grave danger. It’s like a warning to us all that we’re too focused on creating content and not focused enough on keeping ourselves safe. It’s also clever to see how Arcade’s Murderworld is not unlike the endless streamers creating content.
As a one-shot, this story has a clear ending with a promise for more deadly games in the next chapter. Does it take a little too long to get to Murderworld? Probably, but its main focus is putting us in the head of a YouTuber who is hopeful this latest project could send him over the top. A shocking moment near the end makes for a satisfying point about Arcade, which suits the point of Murderworld. It also gives the issue an ending closing the loop on the one-shot format.
Art by Morales keeps the action moving with some artistic flourishes and ideas, keeping the mostly non-powered humans interesting on the page. They tend to have very loud but realistic expressions that amp things up. I could have used more Arcade in this issue, but he plays the part of showman well.
If you’re expecting a larger story, you won’t find it here. Some back matter suggests there’s more to this story than deadly games for average humans to overcome, but it’s not there in the story itself. As the opening issue to a series of one-shots, I found it lacking to not say why we need more of this.
I also found some of the captions uninteresting or unnecessary, but once you reach the end, it’s obvious why they’re there. You’re supposed to be there with him, experiencing every close call and hopeful win. That makes the overall experience a bit meta on some scale since this content creator delivered only not for his YouTube fans but for us.
Less superhero battle and more Squid Game, we follow a YouTuber’s every thought as he reacts to each moment, putting you right there with him. If you were ever interested in Arcade’s awful game and how it functions, give Murderworld: Avengers a shot. You’ll respect the story and its done-in-one arc, even if it’s dark and tragic. For fans of superheroes, however, you might need to wait till the next issue to understand where it’s all going.
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