In September of 2003, UDON published the first issue of Capcom’s Street Fighter. This title takes the story elements from the popular fighting game and weaves a tale while including and respecting as much of the gaming history as they can. We follow Ryu on his quest to avenge the murder of his master, Gouken, at the hands of Akuma. Along the way Ryu is targeted by the world terrorist Bison to be a slave under his Psycho Power. Hot on Bison’s trail are Guile and Chun-li who want to bring him to justice as agents of an Interpol task force who have both lost loved ones because of Bison. UDON takes a difficult history, riddled with many contradicting elements, and makes a story that is probably the best interpretation of the fighting game yet.
Previously in Street Fighter II Turbo: The Tournament’s final battle has begun. Ryu faces off against Bison when suddenly they’re interrupted by Akuma who tells Bison to stand down and lays claim to Ryu. Naturally, Bison doesn’t take orders and turns his Psycho Power towards Akuma. While the two are fighting, Cammy uses this opportunity to break her cover and gather Chun-li and Guile to make a play for the Psycho Drive. Chunli and Guile free the Delta Red squad while Cammy tries to fight off a brainwashed Honda, T. Hawk and Ken with little success. Delta Red member, Ginzo, hacks into the Psycho Drive’s Satellite Targeting System and has it fire on the island base to destroy the drive’s core chamber. The satellite attack causes the island’s volcano to erupt just as all of Bison’s brainwashed victims return to normal. Bison feels his Psycho Power disappear as Akuma launches him towards Cammy with an uppercut. Bison desperately tries to transfer his soul into Cammy’s body when Rose’s spirit pulls him back. Akuma grabs the stunned Bison and performs the Shun Goku Satsu on him, leaving him as a charred corpse. Everyone is evacuating the island as Ryu now faces his master’s murder on a field of fire and ash.
The final issue opens with Ryu flashing back to a sparring session with Master Gouken. Gouken tells him that one day a moment will come where he will be tested to determine what kind of fighter he truly is. Back in the present, the island starts to break apart as Ryu lunges towards the eager Akuma. All but one of Ryu’s attacks is easily avoided. Akuma stands impressed at Ryu’s progress but is upset at the fact that he’s still holding back. Akuma berates Ryu for his poor technique as he clearly dominates this fight. Akuma tells Ryu that his strength is no better than his master’s and that if he doesn’t let loose, he’ll kill him just as he killed his master. Ryu is then enraged and starts to let the Dark Hadou take over. Ryu lands a combination of strong blows and knocks Akuma to the ground. As Ryu prepares a Hadouken to finish Akuma off, he is reminded of his master’s words and realizes that he’s not a killer. Ryu drops his guard and tells Akuma that he pities him which enrages the fallen warrior. Akuma beats Ryu almost to unconsciousness and is about to land the final blow when his hand is stopped by someone behind him. Ryu’s fallen master, Gouken, saves him and tells Ryu that he is proud of him. Gouken says goodbye as he turns to face Akuma in battle. Ryu drifts away on a piece of rock caught in a lava stream as he tries to get up but passes out. Dhalsim teleports him safely on board Guile’s battle ship just as the island is destroyed.
One month later we see Chun-li debriefing her chief on the final report of Shadoo and the Street Fighter combatants. Zangief returned to Siberia to wrestle wild animals. Honda rejoined his students and continued to teach the way of the Sumo Wrestler. Dee Jay went home to develop his unique fighting style on Jamaica’s sandy beaches. Dhalsim spends his days meditating on a great many subjects (including what he would like for dinner). Blanka was reunited with his long lost mother after she saw him on television. T. Hawk and the doll agents set out to rebuild the Thunderfoot Tribe in Mexico. Fei Long gave up acting and fulfilled his dream of opening a martial arts dojo. Cammy is happy that her past is finally buried and has found a permanent family in Delta Red. As for the remnants of Shadaloo, Sagat disappeared into the Thailand jungles to train more, Balrog is spending all the money he stole from Shadaloo before it blew up, and Vega returned to underground cage fighting in Spain. Chunli’s chief asks her about her American partner and if she had plans on leaving the agency. Chun-li decides that she needs the excitement in her life and remains an agent of Interpol while Guile is taking a break to rebuild his broken family and see his sister-in-law’s wedding to Ken. We close the series with Ken traveling to Japan to pick up Ryu for the wedding and finding that Ryu has rebuilt Gluten’s Dojo. Ken can’t help but spar with his best man just once more before they leave to start their new lives free of Akuma and Bison’s looming shadows.
Considering that this comic is based off of a video game that can be beaten in a spare twenty minutes, there was a ton of build up in the seven years it took to tell the story. While I’m satisfied with the ending, I wish the final battles would have been drawn out a little longer. I feel like the final battle with Akuma should have taken an issue and a half to tell. Maybe that’s the part of me talking that used to watch Dragonball Z. I don’t know. I really did feel satisfied with 99% of the story. Of course that 1% I didn’t care for is the sudden return of Master Gouken. It’s a little hard to believe, after seeing his dead body lying on the floor and knowing that Ryu buried him, that he could still be alive. At first, I wasn’t sure if he was really alive or if it was his spirit because of the strange blue glow surrounding his body. With Akuma taking the role of Darth Vadar, Gouken as Obi-wan and Ryu taking Luke’s place, I think I would have preferred if it was Gouken’s spirit for the final battle. At least then I’m not left wondering about how they plan to incorporate Gouken into the Street Fighter III story and still have it follow the game’s script. I suppose they put him in the finale because of his recent addition to the Street Fighter IV game as a secret character. Aside from that, I think they did a great job of setting up for the next story. We got a look at their Street Fighter III comic in Street Fighter II Remix and since then I have been anxious to read it. Hopefully they’ll start work on it soon.
Chamba did a great job with the fight scenes in this issue. The movement of a punch in one panel flows seamlessly into the kick of another panel. There are no movements that make you think the fighter should have been off balance and there were no punches that felt like they didn’t hurt. His quick movements and energy attacks have an almost 3-D quality about them that make them come alive. That, combined with his blur technique on the background and foreground, gives real perspective to his panels. The only thing that I don’t like is something that his predecessor did very well; his backgrounds. In many of his backgrounds, there is either a smear effect or a solid color. This isn’t a problem with the volcano scenes because a smudged black sky fits but, for the interior scenes and clear blue sky scenes, it feels lacking. I find it strange that the first page is a flashback where I would come to expect a lot of blurring and solids to give the “foggy memory” feel but find that this page is possibly the most detailed page of the book. It’s beautiful but sets up a false impression for the pages to follow. I would have liked to have seen more of the newly rebuilt dojo mentioned at the end of the book and not just the arch way. Perhaps when Ryu and Ken had their Rocky and Apollo ending, he could have used the new dojo as the background. The other thing to note is that the covers, while good, didn’t feel like it captured that “LAST ISSUE” feel.
I give the series really high marks for being a faithful and fun adaptation to the game. I’m almost saddened that it’s over but thankfully I can look to their Street Fighter Legends series to continue possible side stories. I give this issue a 3 1/2 out of 5 stars because they raised questions I doubt they’ll answer and the final page didn’t give me the closure I wanted to have for a seven year story.