Friday, July 31, 2015


Story: Jim Zubkavich w/Ken Siu Chong (Interludes)
Artwork: Omar Dogan w/Alan Wang & Gary Yeung (Interlude 2)
Lettering: Marshall Dillon | Chief of Operations: Erik Ko
Managing Editor: Matt Moylan

Let's start by saying that I know absolutely nothing about STREET FIGHTER 3. I think I played it once in my life, at a casino arcade at Lake Tahoe. I'm unfamiliar with the plot and the characters. Its probably the STREET FIGHTER area where I have the very least amount of knowledge. And since this mini-series focuses entirely on SF3 characters, I have to admit to being a bit lost among these pages.

Which isn't to say Jim Zubkavich isn't a good writer -- in fact I would rate him higher than Ken Siu-Chong in terms of grammar and exposition (this is especially evident when the first "interlude" crops up and Siu-Chong guest scripts a few panels of painfully constructed exposition).

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The story here follows a girl named Ibuki, a Japanese high school student who also happens to be a ninja trainee, living among a group of ninjas in a hidden glade. Ibuki and her classmate Sarai befriend a new student named Makoto who is also the heir to a karate dojo. The group is rounded out when African exchange student Elena, also a powerful fighter, arrives as well.

As time passes, Ibuki finds herself harassed by a group of apparently sinister Geki ninjas, and she is sent by her masters to challenge a gold-skinned man named Oro as her ninjutsu "final exam". Following the battle with Oro, Ibuki learns that she was found by the Geki ninjas as an infant and was to be inducted into their order. But her future master, Enjo, wanted her to have a choice in her path and spirited her away, eventually founding his own ninja academy. In the end, the Geki are defeated and reintegrated with Enjo's group and Ibuki goes to university, where she begins the next phase of her ninja story.

It's a good series, and well-written to boot -- I would honestly probably prefer Zubkavich over Siu-Chong, or at least a partnership between the two, on the ongoing STREET FIGHTER books -- but I'm just not invested in Ibuki as a character. Her friends are entertaining enough, but she doesn't do much for me. Though I'm sure that's partly because of her less than stellar character design. I don't like her costume one bit, and her hair kind of annoys me for some reason. Not even the brilliant artwork of Omar Dogan can save Ibuki's visual for me.

But boy does he try! This is easily the best looking of the three LEGENDS mini-series, thanks to Dogan. These things only came out within a few years of each other, but Dogan's improvement as an artist is evident in leaps and bounds over that time. By this point he's mastered comical expressions and body language, dramatic faces and postures, and action scenes. Not to mention wonderful backgrounds and breathtaking colors -- some of the best to be found in any of the STREET FIGHTER comics thus far. In the absence of Alvin Lee, Dogan should be chained to a drawing table by UDON.

Dogan tackles the Capcom-designed characters with skill, especially when it comes to the striking Elena. But above all the others, I need to give special attention to his treatment of Oro, the gold-skinned man who's such an astounding fighter that he battles with one arm bound in an attempt to test himself. Oro's face has this wonderfully comical elasticity to it that just cracks me up. I assume his expressions came originally from Capcom's designers, but Dogan is really able to work wonders with Oro's brief appearance in the story.

Thus, as has been the case more often than not, it's really the artwork in this STREET FIGHTER series which stands out for me. But in this case it's not because the story is poorly scripted or features any glaring plot holes. Rather it's simply that, as someone who knows less than nothing about STREET FIGHTER 3, the adventures of Ibuki and her friends just don't enthrall me in the same way as the exploits of Ryu, Guile, and the rest.

No comments:

Post a Comment