Arcade Kings: Volume 1 by Dylan Burnett

with colors by Walter Baiamonte and Sara Antonellini.

Woof, families, man. This collection of the first five colorful, violent issues of the Arcade Kings series follows Joe, a kid with a dragon fruit for a head, as he roams Infinity City, kicking ass both in arcade games and in honest-to-goodness street fighting. But he’s no mere juvenile delinquent: he’s actually looking for his younger brother, Ken. Their adoptive father Vic — or as he’s better known to the mostly worshipful masses of Infinity City, fighting and film star Victor McMax — waits patiently at home, sending out his minions to keep a watchful eye on Joe. But to what purpose, and for good or ill?

In a book that’s been compared to Invincible (which I have yet to read or watch, but which the osmotic properties of the Internet have already given me a decent idea of,) Vic’s obviously not doing this for entirely humanitarian reasons. As Joe searches for Ken, we learn more about their childhood and relationship to Vic, as well as about the state of Infinity City. Not everyone is grateful for the bread and circuses Vic provides, but no one can really look away from the spectacles he brings them.

The story itself isn’t super complicated, but it’s presented with full-color, acid neon, Super Saiyan verve. There are definitely Scott Pilgrim parallels in the cutesy yet violent depictions of the goings-on, beginning with seemingly innocuous video games and escalating to full-on battles royale. The twists are well telegraphed — they’re definitely more of a surprise when read in the monthly comics format in which this title was originally published — but still emotionally resonant.

I do like how the book neatly ties up the main plot before opening the way for future developments, even if they’ll likely present a tonal shift in the proceedings. Tho perhaps I am merely reading too much into it and Dylan Burnett will be able to turn the opportunity of the ending back into street fighting family drama. We shall see!

Arcade Kings: Volume 1 by Dylan Burnett was published December 12 2023 by Image Comics and is available from all good booksellers, including

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