Friday, June 26, 2015


Story: Ken Siu-Chong | Artwork: Alvin Lee | Inks: Crystal Reid
Colors: Espen Grundetjern | Lettering: Simon Yeung
Guest Artists: Arnold Tsang, Skottie Young, Chris Stevens, Kevin Yan, Mark Lee, Sven
Project Manager: Jim Zubkavich | Managing Editor: Marshall Dillon | UDON Chief: Erik Ko

After a break of a year or so, UDON's ongoing STREET FIGHTER comics returned with a six-issue STREET FIGHTER II series. Though named for the classic video game, STREET FIGHTER II does not, in fact, feature the tournament which comprised that game's storyline. Instead, the series is more of a direct continuation of the previous volume, laying additional groundwork toward the tournament. If anything, both this series and the last seem to be more like the STREET FIGHTER ALPHA videogames, which served as prequels to the original installments.

Right off the bat we get an issue 0 which provides possibly the best look inside Ryu's head that we've seen thus far. Through first person narration, he clarifies the purpose of his trek around the world. He's seeking strong fighters to test his abilities, but more than that, he's looking to master the darkness within him -- the "Dark Hadou" -- so that when he fights Akuma he will be able to keep that darkness in check and win their battle on his own terms. Given that, until this point, Ryu's motivations (other than simply avenging his master Gouken) were a bit unclear, this explanation makes a lot of sense and is greatly appreciated.

Over the following six issues, Ken Siu-Chong continues his previously building storylines while also introducing the remaining fighters who will participate in the next Street Fighter torunament, fully setting the stage for UDON's official adaptation of the real STREET FIGHTER II game. But I have to say, Other than the fact that there was a break between volumes, I really see no reason why these issues should have been their own series. They're clearly, as noted above, a direct continuation of the previous STREET FIGHTER volume. But #1 issues are always big sellers, so that fact, combined with the fact that UDON's STREET FIGHTER comics had been absent from the racks for a little while at this point, turned what probably should've simply been STREET FIGHTER #15 - 20 into STREET FIGHTER II #1 - 6 instead.

Besides Ryu, most of the previous volume's stars take this stretch of the story off, or are reduced to brief cameos. The major exceptions are Chun-Li and Cammy. Still working together following their team-up in the first volume's second story arc, the pair continues the investigation which began in South America, following a Shadaloo paper trail to Mexico, where they meet an indigenous Mexican named Thunder Hawk, leader of a tribe which has been troubled by Shadaloo.

Meanwhile, Ryu's quest to master himself leads him to the yoga master Dhalsim, who has just finished training Sagat. Ryu and Sagat have a brief rematch, but Sagat wants Ryu to train with Dhalsim as well. Ever the noble opponent, he demands that Ryu have the same level of training as he before they can fight again. So, following Sagat's departure, Ryu trains with Dhalsim, fighting the master himself and a ghost image of Akuma. But Ryu doesn't find what he needs with Dhalsim, so he moves on to locate the one man who defeated Akuma in the past: Chun-Li's former master, Gen.

Though Chun-Li and Ryu don't cross paths in this story, Siu-Chong does a nice job of tying their stories together with the Gen/Akuma connection. I don't know how much of this stuff is official STREET FIGHER canon and how much of it comes from Siu-Chong's imagination, but I love all the little connections between the characters; creating a sort of tapestry that ties their destinies together. Ken and Ryu were students together under Gouken. Gouken's brother was Akuma, who once dueled Gen, a friend of Chun-Li's father. Chun-Li's father was killed by Cammy, and she worked with an old pal of Guile's. Guile is married to Ken's fiancee's sister. And so on, and so forth. It's obviously all very coincidental, but for this type of story that doesn't feel forced or awkward; it feels right.

So Ryu tracks down Gen, who insists the only way to defeat Akuma is to give in to his darkness. Ryu refuses to believe this, and departs to continue his training. But Akuma, who's been shadowing Ryu in his travels, confronts Gen for a rematch soon after. This time Gen, having given up the darkness within himself, proves Akuma's inferior and perishes in the fight. Events come full circle as Gen's sudden death pulls Chun-Li off her mission, sending her back to Hong Kong and leaving Cammy and Thunder Hawk alone to investigate Shadaloo in Mexico -- which turns out be a trap, thanks to dummy intel fed to Chun-Li by Guile, himself tricked by one of Bison's "dolls" posing as his assistant.

All of this, it turns out, is Bison's plot to bring Cammy back into his clutches. She's very important to him, and the arrival of the mysterious Rose in Mexico reveals why. Rose explains that she and Cammy are both tied to Bison: Rose through mysticism and Cammy through science. It seems that twenty years earlier, Bison mastered "Psycho Power" by eliminating all good from himself. Rose is now the living embodiment of that excised benevolence. Cammy, meanwhile, is, more or less, a clone of Bison. He wanted to live on forever even if his mortal body was killed, so he used some of his DNA to craft a new body into which he could transfer his consciousness should he perish.

Let me take this brief moment to mention how silly I think it is when people create "clones" of the opposite gender. X-23 at Marvel is a dopey idea. A decent character, maybe, but she will never surpass her dumb roots for me. Now Cammy isn't specifically called a clone here, but that's essentially what she is, having been grown from Bison's DNA. I just don't get this concept. A clone should be an exact duplicate, should it not? Isn't that the definition of the word "clone"? Giving a male character a "female clone" -- or vice versa -- is absurd.

Anyway -- our story comes to a close as Bison defeats Thunder Hawk and Rose and takes Cammy back, blackmailing her to return to him when he reveals that he's captured the rest of Delta Red. Meanwhile, in China, Ryu duels his dark side in what appears to result with a draw, as Akuma secretly observes. Then, as Chun-Li pays her final respects to Gen, she receives an invitation: Bison has summoned all of the world's greatest fighters to participate in a new Street Fighter Tournament, with plans to capture and brainwash the best of them to serve him.

There are a few plot developments in these seven issues, notably the revelations about Bison, Cammy, and Rose and the demise of Gen. But for the most part this is about the thinnest stretch of STREET FIGHTER issues so far. Going by numbers, like I said, these could have just been STREET FIGHTER issues 15 - 20. But going by content, they probably should've been issues 15 - 17. Ryu's travels amount to nothing, meaning a good half this page count was unnecessary. Only the Chun-Li/Cammy storyline is important, and that could've been told in three (or fewer) issues.

But this is a STREET FIGHTER comic, so some gratuitous fighting is a requirement. Thus we have the completely unnecessary Ryu vs. Sagat, Ryu vs. Dhalsim, Ryu vs. ghost Akuma, Ryu vs. Gen, and Ryu vs. Dark Ryu duels. Thing is, even without these, there are plenty of fights in the important portions of the story which would've been more than enough: Ryu vs. Gen, Gen vs. Akuma (flashback), Gen vs. Akuma (present), and the biggie, Thunder Hawk/Rose/Cammy vs. Bison's Dolls/Bison. That's plenty of action and would've been enough if this story had been shorter.

So STREET FIGHTER II is really a lot of padding around a story that didn't need it. But, if nothing else, the padding is absolutely beautiful. Due to the way the credits were presented in the first STREET FIGHTER ULTIMATE EDITION, I'm unsure how much of the previous eighteen issues were drawn by Alvin Lee. But he provides pencils for all of the STREET FIGHTER II issues, and his work is gorgeous. Lee is the best of the UDON artists, drawing all the characters perfectly on model, presenting expertly choreographed fight scenes, and making none of it whatsoever look awkward. Combined with the always amazing UDON color work, Lee's art here gives us the best looking run of STREET FIGHTER issues to date.


  1. X-23 at Marvel is a dopey idea. A decent character, maybe, but she will never surpass her dumb roots for me.

    I actually think X-23 is pretty great character, though I agree that she works best when the fact that she's a female clone of Wolverine doesn't come up. And she could use a better codename. I definitely like her more than Daken, the other new-ish "relation" to Wolverine that got a lot of page time.

    1. I don't necessarily have any issues with X-23 the character. If she was a test-tube baby grown simply to be a female Wolverine, it would be fine. It's the fact that (as I understand it), she's specifically a female clone of Wolverine that bugs me.

      I agree she's better than Daken. That guy bugs me, partly due to his random inner wrist claw.

    2. Yeah, I have lots of issues with Daken. The stupid claw is one of them.