Street Fighter has been a popular franchise for Capcom since 1991 when Street Fighter II debuted. This book draws its cast from the expansive Street Fighter universe, giving writer Ken Siu-Chong plenty of fodder for constant, rapid martial arts encounters. It’s no surprise that it includes all of the characters from Street Fighter II and then some. Many characters can be summed up in a line or so, which is all that is necessary to set up each fight sequence: E. Honda loves sumo, so can he stomp someone into the ground already? M. Bison leads a shady organization called Shadaloo; do we need to know his grand scheme in order to appreciate his over-the-top evil?
Some characters bounce around in the narrative, notably Ryu and Cammy. Ryu has been training to become the strongest warrior in the world, but he thirsts for vengeance after Akuma killed his master, Gouken. Can his goal of martial arts mastery coexist with a clear conscience? If Ryu follows the killer’s path of darkness, will he forfeit his soul? On the other side of the board is Cammy, a living weapon developed in the laboratory of Bison, a being of pure negativity—only she has been turned good by Rose, the living embodiment of Bison’s goodness. Will Cammy find her own way in the world, or does she exist to follow orders? Can she assert an identity when she was not created to have one?
The real question is, “can they do the moves?” Yes, they can, and Street Fighter devotees will likely animate the fighting panels in their minds according to the moves from the video games. All of the attacks in this comic are completely recognizable. Chun-Li is not flip-kicking someone in the head by chance — that’s the stance she uses for a special move. Ryu and Ken don’t just happen to love uppercutting people — that’s their signature Shoryuken move. High-level Street Fighter play requires knowledge of each character’s specific strengths and vulnerabilities, so gamers will definitely pick up on the visual cues in each fight, along with some added plot for each cast member.
The visuals are as varied as they are impressive, with a veritable army of artists covering individual issues and short guest spots. Some chapters are so stylized and confident that they beg to be animated; others look fairly generic in their “anime lite” style. This wide array of approaches means that there’s always the next chapter to anticipate, for better or worse. The violence is similar to the fighting games: characters get roughed up and bruised, but without any broken bones or gushing wounds. One exception occurs when we see how Sagat got his massive chest scar, but even that isn’t so bad.
If there is one pattern in the artwork that bothers me, it’s the recurring pantie shots of female characters. I get it: the video game characters sometimes have skimpy outfits and the comic is loyal to those designs, but it regularly goes out of its way to show ladies’ cleavage and skirt lines. Given the relatively well-developed stories and battles given to characters like Chun-Li and Cammy, I would expect to see their underwear less.
Overall, Street Fighter Classic is an entertaining continuation of the original video game franchise. Will Guile ever reconcile with his estranged brother? Does Rose have enough strength of light to defeat Bison’s darkness? Will Akuma convert Ryu into a cold-blooded warrior? Even if these names and story threads are unfamiliar to you, the fight is still fun to watch.
Street Fighter Classic, vol. #1: Hadoken
by Ken Siu-Chong
Art by Alvin Lee, Arnold Tsang, Omar Dogan, Andrew Hou, Long Vo, Noi Sackda, Eric Vedder, Rob Ross, Alan Tam, Scott Hepburn, M3TH, Joe Madureira, J. Scott Campbell, Kevin Lau, Kaare Andrews, Hyung-Tae Kim, Salvador Larroca, LeSean Thomas, Josh Middleton, Adrian Alphona, Christina Strain, Danimation, Carlo Barberi, Mark Brooks, Yasuhiro Nightow, Jo Chen
Publisher Age Rating: N/A