Arcade Kings #2
Joe's search for his missing brother brings him to the ghost town of Rockview. Too bad it's the home turf of Plum Khurana, who has a bone to pick with Joe's entire family!
Issue two of Arcade Kings continues Joe’s journey in finding his brother, Ken. He arrives at Rockview, where he is confronted by Plum, the local fighter whose father owns the local arcade and MMA club that are no longer in operation. Her father’s identity is a mystery since he’s only seen in the shadows of their living room, passed out from watching TV. One can’t help but wonder, however, if her father is Ziegler, the person who last fought Victor McMax in his last professional bout. As the story continues, it’s clear that the journey is going to have elements familiar from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, where the protagonist is going to have to battle a local townie and one of his father’s cronies in a video game style fight (after all, it’s Arcade Kings). But Joe leaves a lasting impression on each town he visits, undoubtedly creating a sort of kinship with them that feels like they’ll help Joe in his fight with his father by the end of the series.
Burnett’s writing is wonderful in this issue. He does a great job of setting up the scene and the backstory of Rockview for the readers to get a sense of the identity of the town before Joe even arrives. In the first few pages, it’s clear that the town’s success is tied to Plum’s father who seems to be washed out and she resents him for it. It is no longer thriving because of the closure of the arcade and MMA club for unknown reasons. The local kids have to adapt by resorting to playing handheld games, which upsets Plum when she finds out they bought a game that her father was in. Clearly she has animosity towards her father and anything that relates to him.
The dialogue between Joe and Plum as well as the issue’s baddie (remain nameless to refrain from spoilers) is witty, a lot of fun, and energetic. It was never meant to be a serious drama. Since it’s a story that’s centered around fighting in an arcade game theme, expect dialogue with some borderline cheesy lines and puns, as well as fun taunts and surprise fighting moves.
One of the highlights of the series so far is the artwork. The style has a lot of influence from classic retro gaming and anime, and it continues to to be a hit here, even with Joe’s head being an odd dragonfruit shape (which will more than likely be revealed why that is later in the series). The color palette is beautiful with the complimentary colors that Baiamonte, Antonellini, Iurato, and Marino use, and the lettering by AndWorld Design just screams fun from the arcades. Burnett does the art here, and the drawings and juxtapositions are done very well to help with the story’s narrative for the reader. One of the struggles, however, was during the battle scene where the issue’s antagonist would fight. There are a few times when that person seemingly disappears and it’s not clear how or why. Not that this needs an explanation in detail, but it was confusing until the third or fourth time this happens when one realizes that the antagonist is using some sort of disappearing move. Whether this person is just vanishing, teleporting, or is inhumanly quick is still not clear, but at the same time, it may not need any explanation as to why as long as the reader knows what has happened (ideally by the first instance, rather than the last).
Variant Cover Highlight
In addition to the main cover, there are three other variant covers for this issue: Cover B Superlog, Cover C 1:10 Gibson Incentive, and Cover D 1:25 Burnett Incentive. My personal favorite here is the Gibson Incentive variant cover by Jordan Gibson. In staying true to the theme, Gibson draws a meta-cover, using an arcade game as the main frame of the art that’s very realistic and use of shadows to show how it’s positioned just inside the glass wall of an arcade, and a battle scene between Plum and Joe that is reminiscent of Street Fighter. Arcades has a nostalgia factor for many adults nowadays, and this cover seems to capture that magical moment when one was a kid looking forward to trying out the various video games at the local arcade. The level of details in the machine banner and the top scores was a nice touch as well.
In the current era where nostalgia is all the rage, Arcade Kings taps into an area of this genre that hasn't been explored and makes it a modern story that all can enjoy. Joe's journey keeps getting more suspenseful in every issue, and it's leaving the readers thrilled with its mystery and exciting fighting scenes.
Arcade Kings #2: Round Two FIGHT!!!
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
- Art - 8.5/108.5/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10
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