Friday, July 24, 2015


Story: Ken Siu-Chong | Artwork: Omar Dogan | Lettering: Marshall Dillon
Chief of Operations: Erik Ko | Managing Editor: Matt Moylan

(Not to be confused with the beloved motion picture, STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI.)

The first STREET FIGHTER LEGENDS mini-series was lighthearted and went for broad comedy across the board. But CHUN-LI takes a different route, playing pretty much entirely straight and reading like an action movie. The story is a prequel to everything we've covered thus far. We meet Chun-Li and her partner, Po Lin, as rookies on the Hong Kong police force. They stumble onto a plot by Shadaloo to steal several Terracotta Warrior statues on display at the local museum and, working with Chun-Li's father, Officer Dorai, thwart the plan.

The story is rife with guest stars from the STREET FIGHTER universe. Besides the obvious ones for a tale set in Hong Kong -- Fei Long and Gen -- we also see Sagat as the leader of the Shadaloo task force, as well as M. Bison and, on the story's final page, "Killer Bee" in cameo appearances.

But for me, the most interesting guest appearance comes from Dan Hibiki. Pretty much always played for laughs, here we finally see a different side of Dan. He and his father have come to Hong Kong to open a dojo and are roughed up by Sagat's men, who are partnered with the local Triad gang. Dan's father challenges Sagat to a duel and the Shadaloo agent takes his life -- but not before Mr. Hibiki takes Sagat's eye. Dan's grief and mourning are played completely straight here, as opposed to the over-the-top exaggeration we normally see when he references his father, and it's an unexpectedly appealing role for him. He has, in the past, gone on about avenging his father's death and it's nice to see he's actually serious about it.

(Incidentally, it seems Dan is the common link in these LEGENDS series, as he will put in a small appearance in the third volume, IBUKI, as well.)

The story comes together much better here than it did in SAKURA. Comedy is hard to write, and Ken Siu-Chong's stab at it, while entertaining, was somewhat aimless. CHUN-LI, on the other hand, weaves a story that mostly makes sense. That said, I do need to pick apart Siu-Chong's scripting just a bit. His writing, while serviceable, has always come across as slightly less than professional caliber. He plots well, but his dialogue often rings false. And I'm not talking about little tics, such as Chun-Li referring to her dad as "Pa Pa" rather than the universally accepted "Papa" or the idea that every character, at some point or another, tosses out a wry "heh" when something amuses them.

No, this series features some of Siu-Chong's weakest scripting to date. Witness the delicately subtle foreshadowing as Dorai comforts Dan following his father's murder while Chun-Li stands nearby: "Dan, believe me, no father would want their child to destroy their life by obsessing over their father's death."

Or, better yet, this gem, as one of Sagat's operatives reports in on his cell phone: "Hello, this is Mr. Ming. Yes, I just returned from the police station and retrieved the document Sagat requested. It was easy since I'm the legal council [sic] for his two men and the document is a piece of evidence."

Really? I mean, I just... I can't-- really?

Look, I like this story and, as I've said before, I'm a fan of Chun-Li (I actually own an autographed Chun-Li lithograph by Omar Dogan showcasing an image from one of this series' covers). I just want this mini to be the best it can be. And, while Siu-Chong does a great job of setting up the material we've already covered and tossing in interesting little bits like Sagat losing his eye, amateurish scripting like this hurts the overall product. These are things any halfway decent editor should've caught and had rewritten.

But one area where CHUN-LI doesn't fall short is the artwork. It's become apparent at this point that Dogan was probably picked to draw three stories starring three female fighters due to his ability to draw cute girls. But while that's true, he's just as adept at car chases, martial arts duels, and, for the most part, even quiet conversational scenes. It's true there are some spots where his figures look a little stiff and lifeless, but overall he keeps the energy level up and does an excellent job as usual.

I've said it before, even as recently as last week, but it bears repeating: even if the story is lackluster, an UDON comic is almost always saved by the art. In this case, it seems both story and art are pretty good. It's just the editing which could use some work.

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