Review: ‘Arcade Kings’ #1 Goes Full Tilt

Welcome to the table,

I love arcade cabinets.

In my youth, when quarters were hard to come by and carefully rationed, each twenty-five-cent coin held the power to transport me away from the real world. I’d go someplace where I could run free, or toss javelins at ghouls, or blow fire out of my stretchy body. Admittedly, my initials rarely graced the high score charts, but when they did, when those stars aligned, it was one of the best feelings in the world.

That same euphoric wave that washed over me when I finally beat my previous best score hit me hard as I finished issue 1 of Image Comics’ Arcade Kings #1. Writer and artist Dylan Burnett brings such fantastic energy to this inaugural issue that I was actually cheering by the last page turn.

The story stars the masked Joe, a mysterious drifter who shows up at Infinity City’s Round House Arcade and starts stacking up wins in the arcade. Local players begin to flock to the arcade to challenge him only to find Joe is nearly unbeatable. His skills extend beyond the arcade cabinet as he aids the manager of the arcade in a street fight earning himself couch-surfing privileges for a few weeks while he makes some coin and beating all challenges.

However, as Joe’s story unfolds, it becomes super apparent that his past is full of all those plot points that make an action story memorable. When a challenger arrives for a real fight, we get a glimpse of just how high the stakes can be.

Arcade Kings feels like it lands somewhere between Afro-Samurai and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. It’s got all the arcade bright and flashy vibes that made Scott Pilgrim fun, without the burden of an unlikable protagonist. It seems to be setting up this wild world, where the ultimate champion takes all. Except, rather than be this grim dark samurai setting, it’s a brightly colored neon romp through a sparkle city landscape.

Speaking of Colors, Walter Baiamonte and Sara Antonellini are doing super stellar work on each page of this book. The palette choices are masterfully thought out, and the whole thing feels consistent and unique. You can tell there is some real talent behind the art direction of this project.

Until next time, this book feels a lot like One Piece to me. There is no crew, there is no sea, there are no poneglyphs or Will of D. I have read this comic six times now and can’t put it into words yet, but I am telling you, something about it just feels like One Piece. I love One Piece so that’s high praise coming from me.

Welcome to the table, I love arcade cabinets. In my youth, when quarters were hard to come by and carefullyCOMICONRead More

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