Friday, September 4, 2015


Story: Chris Sarracini
Art: Jeffrey "Chamba" Cruz, Hanzo Steinbach, Edwin Huang, Rob "Robaato" Porter, Long Vo
Colors: Jeffrey "Chamba" Cruz, Josh Perez, Espen Grundetjern, Rob "Robaato" Porter
Lettering: Marshall Dillon | Flats: Ludwig Olimba
Cover Art: Steve Mack w/Espen Grundetjern | UDON Chief: Erik Ko
Director of Publishing: Matt Moylan | Senior Editor: Ash Paulsen

UDON's first tie-in with the upcoming STREET FIGHTER V videogame is an original graphic novel released as a San Diego Comic-Con 2015 exclusive. UDON claims this book will not be rereleased elsewhere, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the story pop up somehow, in some other larger collection. In the meantime, however, since I was on a STREET FIGHTER binge over the summer of 2015, I opted to pick up the exclusive book and cover it here.

Apparently Capcom decided to bring back the long-dead Charlie Nash as a playable character in STREET FIGHTER V, leading to some consternation among fans. The guy had been killed off chronologically prior to the original STREET FIGHTER II, in the STREET FIGHTER ALPHA prequel series, and his death was a major part of the backstories of both Guile and Chun-Li. But with the character returning to life in the game's canon, that meant UDON would need to resurrect him as well for their ongoing stories. And, rather than regular STREET FIGHTER writer Ken Siu-Chong, this task fell to STREET FIGHTER ORIGINS: AKUMA scribe Chris Sarracini. Probably a good idea. As noted previously, Sarracini seems a much more adept writer than Siu-Chong, and a certain level of skill is required here to pull off Charlie's return.

Though in this case, the book doesn't dwell much on Charlie's return from the grave. We find him initially walking through an unnamed desert, where he's picked up by a nicely dressed man and woman in a helicopter. The woman goes over Charlie's service record with him, and we learn about his time in the U.S. armed forces, where he served in both the Marines and Air Force with honors, and was a leading figure in the country's quest to uncover Shadaloo. We see a few of Charlie's missions against the organization, during which he discovered both Psycho Power and Shadaloo's interest in cloning.

But finally, after a number of successful missions against Shadaloo, Charlie's luck ran out and he was captured by M. Bison, who used Psycho Power to brainwash him into "Agent Shadow". At this point the book intersects nicely with UDON's original STREET FIGHTER series from several years back, as we relive Charlie's fight with Guile and Chun-Li and his apparent death in conflict with Bison.

I have to admit, I'm regaining some faith in UDON at this point. Just last week (though the post was written a month or so prior this one) I opined that they were spinning too many plates; starting too many stories. But it's becoming clear with CHARLIE NASH that there is some sort of plan in place. When the story continues after Charlie's "demise", we're told that his body was found, preserved by Psycho Power, in the ocean by the Secret Society, and that the entire scenario with the desert and the chopper has been a virtual reality world used by the Society to make "first contact" with him. Charlie willingly agrees to serve the apparently benevolent Society, and the book closes with Charlie's body under observation by Gill.

Thus, CHARLIE NASH furthers UDON's recent offerings, tying Charlie's resurrection in with SUPER STREET FIGHTER's storylines while also relating it to some of the publisher's earliest STREET FIGHTER tales as well (Charlie's death, remember, occurred in STREET FIGHTER's very first story arc in 2004). It seems all this stuff really is going somewhere, presumably leading toward an adaptation of STREET FIGHTER V, so I have renewed hope UDON will be able to tie up all their various plots.

But, while I enjoyed the story and continuity in CHARLIE NASH, I have to mention the uneven artwork as well. Once again, Jeffrey Cruz provides the majority of the work, and I still don't like his style. His illustrations carry no weight, due to the complete absence of black, and while I generally find his character work fine, I just can't get past this deficiency.

The remaining work in the book ranges from fantastic to incredibly ametaurish. I used to associate UDON with fantastic art and coloring above all else, but everything since STREET FIGHTER IV has been far below their established standards. I'd love to see the art quality pick up because, while I enjoy these stories to an extent, they aren't really strong enough to stand with the recent sub-par artwork.

And that's it for the Summer of STREET FIGHTER. I've covered all UDON's SF comics to date. I'll check in with whatever comes next, and certainly write a bit about it here, but for now we're done.

That said, we have one more UDON/Capcom videogame offering to look at next week, before moving on entirely.

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