Friday, June 12, 2015


Writer: Ken Siu-Chong | Art & Color: UDON Studios*
Assistant Script Editor: Marina Siu-Chong | Project Manager: Jim Zubkavich
Managing Editor: Marshall Dillon | UDON Chief: Erik Ko

UDON's inaugural STREET FIGHTER story arc sees young martial artist Ryu returning to the Japanese dojo where he lives with his master Gouken, only to find Gouken murdered. Ryu travels to the United States to enlist the aid of Gouken's other pupil, Ken Masters, to find their master's killer. Meanwhile, U.S. Special Forces officer Guile is investigating the disappearance of his old partner, Charlie Nash, who vanished while on the trail of a sinister organization called Shadaloo. Guile teams up with Charlie's Interpol contact, Chun-Li, to look into Shadaloo's apparent interest in Ryu.

From that starting point the two duos travel independently to Japan and eventually cross paths. Along the way, Shadaloo's top assassin, Vega, duels with Ken while Guile and Chun-Li find Charlie, now brainwashed to serve Shadaloo commander M. Bison. When Bison himself appears, Charlie regains his senses and sacrifices himself to apparently kill the despot. Elsewhere, Bison's agent codenamed "Killer Bee" is spirited away by a mysterious gypsy named Rose and given a new life, free of her memories of Shadaloo.

Finally, Gouken's true killer reveals himself to Ryu and Ken as Akuma, Gouken's brother. He battles the duo and bests them, but not before goading Ryu into unlocking a dark power within himself. Akuma challenges Ryu to meet him at the next Street Fighter Tournament and then departs. As the story closes, a teenage girl named Sakura, Ryu's biggest fan, forces herself into his tutelage and the pair prepares to travel the world to train for the tournament.

And that's only some of what's in these six issues. Considering that these comics are really short reads, filled with lots of extensive fight scenes and large panels, it's amazing how much continuity Siu-Chong is able to squeeze into his story. Besides the main characters presented above, STREET FIGHTER 0 through 6 give us cameo appearances from additional characters such as Deejay, Edmond Honda, Birdy, and others. I don't know a ton about the STREET FIGHTER universe beyond the main cast of STREET FIGHTER II, but it's nice to see various ancillary characters dropped into these stories to help flesh out the world.

UDON also included backup stories in their original run of STREET FIGHTER comics, along with other short one-shots in video game magazines, summer specials, and the like. These little tales are all reprinted in the ULTIMATE EDITION collection, and serve to elaborate upon events only mentioned in the ongoing series. For example, we know from the earliest issues that Ryu won the previous Street Fighter Tournament; it is in one of the backups that we see he did it by defeating his rival, Sagat, using a move which permanently scarred Sagat's chest as it revealed some of that dark energy Akuma is so anxious to release.

The story may be a bit derivative, but that's almost part of the fun. It's based on a video game, after all -- and one which, when first released, had no real elaborate storyline attached to it. Siu-Chong borrows elements from all different STREET FIGHTER continuities and unites them into a single whole. The working relationship between Guile and Chun-Li seen here comes from the STREET FIGHTER animated movie. Ryu setting out to travel the world and train to become a stronger warrior is a common martial arts trope, and here seems based upon the fact that in later STREET FIGHTER games the character usually enters the screen with a bedroll slung over his shoulder. Additionally, in the Japanese cartoon series, STREET FIGHTER II: V, Ryu and Ken were shown trotting the globe in search of warriors against whom to test their skills. We will see next time that Killer Bee is reborn as Cammy, and much of her backstory in the next story arc apparently comes from an older STREET FIGHTER manga. And so on, and so forth.

But when reading an UDON story, the art is usually the main draw, and for the most part these initial six issues don't disappoint. UDON has a clearly defined house style, and it works beautifully. The characters are pretty much always on-model with their official Capcom designs. It's hard to know exactly who drew what, since my collected edition lumps all the art credits together on the final page, but there are definitely some weaker links to be found here and there. One artist in particular uses weird foreshortening now and then which just doesn't look good.

Overall, though, the UDON style is perfect for a series like STREET FIGHTER. It looks almost like an anime on the printed page, with nicely choreographed fights bursting with explosive action, detailed backgrounds, and, as noted, perfectly drawn and usually expressive characters. And the colors--! UDON provides some of the best color work in the comic book industry. I've never understood why they aren't hired by the big publishers to just color everything. Any book looks better when they're involved. Their work is bright and colorful when appropriate but dark and somber as needed.

And, while the lettering isn't necessarily of particular note, I love one aspect of UDON's work in that area as well: in all the flashback scenes, and for a few other select moments, the word balloons are slightly transparent, allowing the reader to faintly see the artwork behind it. It's pretty cool and, while not something I would want from a mainstream superhero comic, works nicely as part of UDON's style and I almost wish the entire series was done this way.

So the first six issues of STREET FIGHTER do a reasonable job of setting up the premise and introducing the core characters. There are several fighters yet to debut, and their times will come as the series moves along. But Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, and Guile have always been the heart of STREET FIGHTER in most of its incarnations, and all of them are presented here with clearly defined characterizations and motivations. The story may be a bit paint-by-numbers, but the artwork more than makes up for any shortcomings on the writing front. Basically, if you come into this series knowing what STREET FIGHTER is all about -- flashy fighting with a minimal plot -- you shouldn't be disappointed by what you find in these pages.

Available now as part of STREET FIGHTER CLASSIC volume 1.

*Additional Credits from STREET FIGHTER: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION volume 1:
Guest Writer: Andre Greenidge
Artists: Alvin Lee, Arnold Tsang, Omar Dogan, Andrew Hou, Long Vo, Noi Sackda, Eric Vedder, Rob Ross, Alan Tam, Scott Hepburn, M3TH
Special Guest Artists: Joe Madureira, Adam Warren, J. Scott Campbell, Kevin Lau, Kaare Andrews, Hyung-Tae Kim, Salvador Larroca, Ale Garza, LeSean Thomas, Andy Seto, Josh Middleton, Adrian Alphona, Christina Strain, Keron Grant, Danimation, Carlo Barberi
Colorists: Andrew Hou, Arnold Tsang, Ben Huen, Charles Park, Christine Choi, Gary Yeung, Hanna Chen, Herbert Kwan, Joy Ang, Kevin Yan, Omar Dogan, Ramil Sunga, Roberto Campus, Saka, Shane Law


  1. But Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, and Guile have always been the heart of STREET FIGHTER in most of its incarnations, and all of them are presented here with clearly defined characterizations and motivations.

    That's one of the things I really like about this series. Various incarnations of this story seem to pick and choose which of those four to use as the "main" character (one movie went with Guile, another Chun-Li; the game (to me, at least) seemed to suggest Ryu was the central character, etc.) and I love that this series recognizes that and builds the series around all four of them, essentially.

    1. Yeah, I think in general Ryu is considered the main protagonist these days, and he definitely gets a ton of page time in these comics, but I like that the others are included too. Especially Guile, who seemed to disappear from the videogames after a while.