REVIEW - Arcade Kings #1: Get Ready To Power-Up! (Image Comics)

REVIEW - Arcade Kings #1: Get Ready To Power-Up! (Image Comics)


ROUND ONE: FIGHT! Joe, a mysterious new face in Infinity City, has suddenly become the hottest new player at the Round House Arcade. Anyone can challenge him, but no one can win. But Joe's secret past is about to catch up to him when his most formidable challenge yet rolls into town, forcing Joe to combo his powers with a joystick, his fists…and his fighting family legacy!

Writer and artist DYLAN BURNETT (Ant-Man, Cosmic Ghost Rider) unveils a new prestige comics series sensation, perfect for fans of INVINCIBLE and MURDER FALCON.


  • Author(s): Dylan Burnett
  • Artist(s): Dylan Burnett
  • Colorist(s): Sara Antonellini, Sharon Marino, Simona Iurato, Walter Baiamonte
  • Letterer: AndWorld Design
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Genre: Action, anime, Game, Manga, Mystery, Slice of Life
  • Published Date: 05/17/2023


Arcade Kings can be best described as a retro gaming genre mashed up with a Disney-like story and influenced by anime styles. In the opening pages, we see brothers Joe and Ken watching their dad (or possibly not their father), Victor McMax, win his 20th fighting championship before announcing his retirement. Jump ahead to the present, and we find a different kind of Joe hanging out in Valleytown’s arcade hall. Only this time, Joe is noticeably different. When he was once a typical-looking kid, he now has a head that resembles a dragonfruit (or a tomato, depending on who you talk to). After rescuing a kid named Rikio from a group of thugs, he makes a deal to stay in the arcade that Rikio’s aunt owns. During that time, Joe makes a reputation for himself as being impossible to beat in a one-on-one match of the arcade game “Hurricane Punch” when suddenly a real-life match-up appears at Joe’s feet, forcing him to show who he really is.

Now, in the world of comics, the story isn’t necessarily that odd. As mentioned earlier, it definitely has some resemblance to an anime-style story that is a good combination of wild, fantastical, and exciting. In this world, everyone is human in appearance with the exception of Joe and Axel, a local frenemy of Joe’s who is distinctly larger than kids his age. Then the main action sequences is a combination of all the fighting scenes you’ve seen in a movie with the combination of video game moves on a controller that you grew up memorizing as well. The odd thing here is that this story works so well. It makes the ridiculousness of the story seem normal, and it leans heavily into the nostalgia aspects that make those kids that grew up in the 80s and 90s feel like they’re living those times again. We don’t get the details right away as to why Joe transformed into a person with a dragonfruit-shaped head with super fighting powers, but the end of the issue definitely leaves it open to be explored in future issues.

The artwork by Burnett and the colors by Antonellini, Marino, Iurato, and Baiamonte accentuate the nostalgia-gaming vibes of the story by using popular color schemes, art styles, and designs that you see in a gaming arcade. Bright, almost-neon-like color palettes make it stand out and remind you of the colors you would see glowing under a black light. The lettering by AndWorld Design nails it as well by using pixelated-esque fonts for titles and locations. The art team here definitely did their homework to create something that brings out those memories of arcade playing when we were kids and transports us into a world where such gaming scenarios and experiences could turn into real-life simulations.


A departure from the traditional superhero comic, Arcade Kings gives you a story where you're not sure whether it's a Disney or anime-inspired story, but you do know that you love it and want to immerse yourself back into the world of classic video games.


  • Writing - 8.5/10
  • Storyline - 8.5/10
  • Art - 9/10
  • Color - 9/10
  • Cover Art - 9/10
  • Overall - 8.8/10

This review was originally written and published for Comic Watch on May 18th, 2023.