Arcade Kings #1 – Image Comics
Creative Team: Dylan Burnett (Cosmic Ghost Rider), Walter Baiamonte and Sara Antonellini
Welcome to an all-new edition of Parlay Points, the comic book review blog to the ODPH Podcast via Nerd Initiative!
For this entry, we’re taking a look at a brand new series from Image Comics that you don’t want to pass up on for New Comic Book Day! With the new Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom being the talk of pop culture fans this week, it is very ironic (and simultaneously poetic) that the world of video games plays a part into this saga shrouded in mystery.
Arcade Kings #1 by DYLAN BURNETT (Cosmic Ghost Rider), Walter Baiamonte and Sara Antonellini welcomes readers to Infinity City and an enigmatic figure starting his own heroic quest. Let’s not delay and “press start” to this review already. Ready for the first level?
*** POSSIBLE SPOILER WARNING ***
The story begins in Infinity City. A prize fight is happening in front of a capacity crowd. In one corner, a fighter named “Ziegler”. In the other is world champion Victor McMax! The action is flying in the ring, but looking from the outside are two young boys with very different personalities. One is Joe, who wants to follow in the champ’s footsteps. The other is his younger brother Ken, who seems disinterested in the action in the ring. Once the final bell hits, McMax retains his title via KO.
The story jumps to a short time later and McMax announces his retirement under mysterious circumstances.
A Little Later
From here, readers are taken to Valleytown, a suburb of Infinity City. At the Round House Arcade, there is a commotion as someone was just defeated in a game. Sitting at the game is a figure wearing a unique helmet asking for who’s next. The figure is Joe.
When a new competitor steps up, readers are taken on a flashback to three weeks prior where Rikio, the nephew of the arcade owner, was assaulted by some punks. He’s saved by Joe, who fends them off. An offer is made following that Rikio can’t say no to: Joe stays at the arcade “to lay low” and in return, he will replace the broken joystick Rikio had and be the protector of the arcade. In three weeks, the deal seems to be paying off for both.
That is until a stranger named Molly walks in to challenge Joe. This is no ordinary player as Molly walks in with her own robot. Molly also says something that triggers a flashback to Joe’s past.
What gets said to force an impulsive action? How does Joe fare to this unlikely challenge? Readers sit ringside as Joe has his biggest challenge to date. The fallout sets the tale into a new direction with a final act that keeps readers guessing what will happen next as the story levels up.
Check Out Even More From Image Comics HERE
Burnett is on double duty for this series and it’s easy to see he’s crafting something special within these pages. From the opening bell, the pace sets a high rhythm, giving readers just enough information about the young boys before jumping ahead to where Joe’s journey takes shape. His initial start is cryptic as not much is tipped off concerning why he’s trying to stay out of the spotlight. This changes dramatically when Molly hits the scene and peels back a layer of his past. The moment is brief but makes a big impact in the story.
Joe’s drive for his cause is memorable as he thrusts himself into fighting when needed while running under the radar of his past. The closing moments are bittersweet as things shift gears but like every great mystery, not everything is revealed at the first chance. The closing moments bring up speculation of what has transpired over the years, but this is nothing but win for the reader.
The artwork is high energy. The coloring of Baiamonte and Antonellini (along with Simona Iurato and Sharon Marino) makes the sights of Infinity City pop off the panels. It reflects the exhilarating pace of the fighting mixed with the overall story. This is illustrated perfectly with the 2 page spread in the beginning of the issue.
Readers will feel the excitement in the crowd with the action in the match. This carries through each fight and it delivers without fault. Burnett’s art plays into the emotional rush of the action. There are great non-action sequences with a final “walk-off” into the sunset balanced out with a strong closing visual to take readers into the next chapter.
FINAL POINT: 9 OUT OF 10
Arcade Kings #1 hits a nice 1-2 combo of action and drama that the readers won’t need to worry about the judges scoring. Burnett and his team drop an emotionally charged tale clouded in secrets and combat with solid writing and dynamic art that doesn’t need a cheat code. Make sure you level up your collection on NCBD with this issue.
Hit me up on ODPH social media and let me know what you thought of Arcade Kings #1. Thanks for reading Parlay Points on Nerd Initiative.