The Street Fighter comics by Udon are known for taking the popular fighting games’ storyline and incorporating it as best they can into a cohesive tale without too many contradicting elements. However, the games don’t give us the story of many of the characters personal lives and triumphs outside of the Street Fighter Tournament. Street Fighter Legends is a way to take a character (usually female) and tell a unique tale that isn’t bound as tightly by the mythology of the games. While still in continuity with the core title, Street Fighter Legends is usually a lighter hearted and funny tale. This is Street Fighter’s third installment of their Legends series featuring the character Ibuki from Street Fighter III. Previous stories with the characters Sakura (Street Fighter Alpha) and Chun-Li (Street Fighter II) are currently available in paperback.
WRITER: Jim Zubkavich
ART: Omar Dogan
COVERS BY: Omar Dogan and Jay Axer
“Somewhere in Japan …” our story opens with a ninja from the Geki Clan informing his superiors that discovering the renegade ninja, Enjo, and his Glade of Ninjas is almost within his grasp and that soon they will have their revenge. The ninja is dismissed until he bears results for the council just as the clan extracts vengeance on a beaten up business man who “should not have ignored them”.
It is now morning at The Glade of Ninjas and the young ninja boy Yuta casually enters the room of the sleeping Ibuki, all the while lecturing her on how their master is going to be displeased with her for not waking on time. He pulls the covers off the bed to find Ibuki’s pet raccoon, Don, sleeping in her place. Yuta’s surprise wears off just fast enough to duck a flying kick from the already dress and awake Ibuki who was hiding in the rafters all along. Yuta compliments Ibuki on her attempted attack and the two share a smile as they head off to morning training. The morning training consisted of maintaining ones balance while changing positions on top of a bamboo pole. Suddenly Ibuki’s cell phone goes off which captures the attention of her teacher, Master Sanjou. He reprimands her on the rules of the Glade of Ninjas and how technology is forbidden there. Ibuki tells the master of her dream to leave the village and go to university and see the what the world has to offer her. The master returns her phone to her and tells her that while she is in the village she needs to respect their rules and asks her to get rid of the phone. Ibuki leaves as we see that poor Yuta has been in an upside-down single-handed handstand atop his pole desperately trying to keep this position this whole time.
Sakura dashes off to the streets now in her school uniform and sneaks atop a bus to get to school. When she arrives at school she finds her friend Sarai half asleep and takes this opportunity to sneak up and scare her. This is the first day back to class from the holidays and they find they have a new student in class. Just as the teacher is about to introduce her, Makoto bursts into speech about being the Master of the Rindoukan Martial Arts Dojo and that she’ll challenge any and all opponents to prove the superiority of her fighting style. Safe to say, the class writes her off as being too tightly wound and goes about their business. Fast forward to lunch time and we find Ibuki and Sarai talking about just how tightly wound they think Makoto might be when their conversation is interrupted by a loud commotion. Apparently a boy from class decided to tell Makoto that she’ll never find a man with a face like hers, which prompts her to floor him with one punch. However, Makoto didn’t see the other classmate coming up behind her. Ibuki flings a ninja blade at her attacker which gets the attention of Makoto who then challenges her to a fight after school to see who’s the toughest.
Makoto waits in the courtyard after school while Ibuki hides in the trees texting Sarai that everything will be okay and if she doesn’t show up for school tomorrow to call a search party. Suddenly, a Geki ninja grabs Ibuki from behind and tries to kidnap her. Ibuki fights him off rather easily when another mysteriously helpful ninja delivers the final blow to the kidnapper and runs off. Ibuki runs yelling after the mystery ninja complaining about stealing her victory just as Makoto yells after Ibuki about their battle. The issues ends with a messenger delivering a letter to another familiar Street Fighter III character. You’ll have to pick up the issue to find out which character is about to transfer to Ibuki’s school.
The first thing I have to say about the Street Fighter Legend series is their incredibly beautiful “A” covers. They are a plain white background with the main character prominently displayed front and center. It looks very much like a sketch cover with full detail and polish and makes for a perfect issue to get an autograph for as the signature would surely standout. This is the cover I got. It was a tough choice since I also loved the “B” cover done by Jay Axer featuring Ibuki and Don in their village.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the Street Fighter comics is how Udon tends to pop characters in the background or display lesser known fighters such as Skullomania from Street Fighter EX. Fans of the main comic may recall a back story with Gen and Chun-Li training when a Geki assassin attacked and was killed by Gen. For those of you who don’t know, Geki was one of the fighters in the lesser known Street Fighter 1 game. I thought that that would be the last of the Geki character until this issue revealed that Geki isn’t just a single man but an entire clan of ninja.
The story gives credit to the fighting capability of the characters while still being just funny enough to give a chuckle to the reader and retain the dignity of that character. I personally found the scene with Ibuki and her master discovering the cell phone to be quite amusing. Ibuki tells her master it’s just a toy when the master responds “Do you think I’m a fool? I know it’s a phone” with a obvious look on his face. My other personal favorite scene was when Ibuki opened her lunch to discover that her food was layed out to look like her pet raccoon. So far everything is shaping up to be off to a great start.
Omar Dogan does an awesome job with drawing his fight scenes. He captures action in such a way that, as you look from panel to panel, you swear that you’re seeing the movement play out as if it were on film instead of the page. The detail of his backgrounds are just plain beautiful and are what I believe to be a key factor of what immerses you into each panel.
As with most of Udon’s comics, they threw a small One-shot comic in the back of this issue. In this comic by Lars Brown, we see Makoto and Ibuki staring intently at each other ala Kill Bill style. Scroll down to the bottom half of the page and we see the two of them then sipping their tea together. This gave me a small chuckle but I’m not exactly sure I understood why. Is it to show the intense rivalry of the two character even when it comes to something simple like sharing tea or is it more of a joke showing the intensity of the moment that turns out to be something so comical and trivial? I’m sure in a way it’s probably both but I feel like this page could have been filled with something a little funnier. I really wonder why they didn’t use Omar Dogan’s “Ask Ibuki” page that he posted on his Deviantart account.
The art strikes me as being better than what’s currently in their Street Fighter comics and the story, while not standout, starts the series off with very sure footing for the rest of the tale. I give this issue a solid 4 out of 5 stars.