Arcade Kings #2 Review

Story & Art: Dylan Burnett

Colors: Walter Baiamonte & Sara Antonellini

Color Assist: Simona Iurato & Sharon Marino

Letters: Andworld Design

Covers: Dylan Burnett & Walter Baiamonte; Superlog; Jordan Gibson; Dylan Burnett

Publisher: Image Comics

Price: 3.99

Release Date: June 21, 2023

If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the Arcade Kings #2 Review.

The Dispatch

Joe is still looking for his brother, and McMax is still looking for him. ARCADE KINGS #2 successfully takes everything to the next level with a new setting, new opponents, and new skills. 

ARCADE KINGS #2 opens with another flashback. This time Ken and Joe, McMax’s two sons, are fighting at his direction. Ken repeatedly loses to his brother who takes it somewhat easy on him at first. But their father pushes Joe not to pull his punches, and before long he’s beaten Ken badly enough that McMax kicks him out of the gym. The issue jumps to the present to find Joe arriving in Rockview, a largely deserted town. There he encounters Plum, an intensely anti-McMax fighter. When they meet, Plum is picking on a bunch of kids for playing a McMax video game on his block. Joe faces potential defeat at Plum’s hands before their fight is interrupted by Minerva, another one of McMax’s fighters sent to bring Joe in.

Every video game gets harder as it goes on, and fighting games are no exception. In their case, opponents get progressively more powerful with progressively more powerful moves. Joe’s fights against both Plum and Minerva reflect that. Both opponents are able to dodge Joe’s moves while Joe has a harder time evading theirs. Joe struggled briefly in the first issue’s fight, but once he got going he made short work of his opponent. ARCADE KINGS #2 makes Joe the clear underdog, something that does not bode well for his continued search for his brother. Burnett’s choice to have Joe face possible failure in only his second match casts serious doubt on his ability to go much further and adds tension that wasn’t present when the first issue ended.

The flashback scene in ARCADE KINGS #2 is considerably more uncomfortable than the one in the first issue. McMax actively encourages Joe to be mean to his brother when Ken continues to lose. The contrast between Joe when he was younger and Joe now invites continued curiosity in what is, to this point, a relatively shallow character.

The Art & Letters

It’s hard to discuss the individual members of the art and letters team here because each one is so integral to the comic overall. If you have ever wanted to know what a fighting game would look like if it were a comic book, ARCADE KINGS is the answer. The colors are rich, bright, and somewhat in your face. Heavy lines and sharper angles keep everything differentiated even when there isn’t high contrast between the colors. This is key because many of the panels in this book are visually loud.

Burnett has also managed to capture moves that one might see in any number of fighting games, complete with two characters in their pre-fight stance. The standout visual moment might be the start of Joe and Plum’s second round. Joe’s first punch is thrown in a panel shaped like the word FIGHT–the single word that typically announces the beginning of a round.

Sound effects are a huge part of ARCADE KINGS #2 just as they were for the first issue. Every time a punch makes contact, and practically every time a punch is thrown, there is a corresponding sound: WHIFF, HOOK, SLAM, POW being among the more memorable. These, too, are bright and usually contrast very well with the color palette in any given panel.

Final Thoughts

ARCADE KINGS #2 delivers unrelenting fun. It’s a fighting game captured in still images on paper, and yet somehow no less exciting. Burnett and his creative team have made something unusual and unique with this comic. It’s worth a look for the visuals alone.


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