Review: Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki #3

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Ibuki has been given her assignment for the finale exam of her ninja training; fight the legendary Master Oro. Can Ibuki draw strength from her friends to carry her through the stress of battling an undefeated Master and preparing for her high school exams as well?

Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki #3
Story by Jim Zubkavich
Art by Omar Dogan
Letters by Marshall Dillon
Cover A by Omar Dogan
Cover B by Adam Warren
Published by Udon

Previously in Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki: The sudden appearance of a foreign exchange student at school has sparked Makoto’s warrior desires. However, Elena’s extremely sunny disposition was more than a match for Makoto’s pride and instead of fighting, the two of them along with Ibuki became fast friends. The three of them were inseparable. One day, Ibuki was called before Master Enjo and told that she needs to step up her ninja training in preparation for her final exam. Nearly working herself to death, Ibuki was able to find the delicate balance between her training, her lessons and her friends. Impressed by the amount of progress she has made, Master Enjo has decided to give Ibuki her final Ninja Exam; to fight Master Oro.

COMPLETING THE NINJA EXAM

This issue opens with Ibuki sparring with Elena. Nervous thoughts of her upcoming battle with Oro race through her mind as Makoto watches on, yelling out her flaws. Overcome with too many distractions, Ibuki’s battle suffers greatly as she loses her footing on a landing and her butt firmly finds the ground. Depressed at school and stressed during training, Ibuki runs crying into the woods. Crouched in the darkness of the woods, Ibuki is about to send a text to Sarai when suddenly she finds her drive and passion to keep going. Standing taller and more confident, Ibuki sets out to succeed on her own terms.

Else where, the Geki ninja that was beaten up in the school yard during issue one was released from police custody. Finding a pay phone, he notified the rest of his clan as to the whereabouts of the deserter, Enjo, and his school. Three days later, Ibuki and her friends set off to find Master Oro meditating at the hidden shrine on Mount Atago. Realizing that her friends cannot fight with her, Ibuki insists that there is no rule against having them there for moral support. Reaching the top, they find Oro waiting and after he confuses her interesting him to be romantic, the two decide to fight. Obvious that Ibuki is afraid yet unrelenting, Oro enlightens her on the nature of why he fights with only one arm. After explaining his boredom with fighting, Oro sees that she’s holding back potential and tells her to prove herself. After an explosion of power, Oro is impressed and tells her she has passed her objective by digging deep within herself and finding new power. Makoto attempts to fight Oro next but is told that she is too angry to challenge him and that she should return when her emotions are better under control. On the way home from the training, Makoto challenges Ibuki to prove her worth to Oro when suddenly their mysterious ninja friend appears to warn them that the Geki clan is planning an attack. Just as he says this, a net drops, trapping them all underneath as Geki ninjas surround them.

A MORE SERIOUS ISSUE THAN PAST ONES

I really enjoyed the story telling in this issue. Mr. Zubkavich does a great job portraying the stress that Ibuki is under. I’m sure we all know what it’s like when you’re feeling pressure from all sides of your life. It was getting to a point where I started feeling some of Ibuki’s burden myself. The scene of her texting Sarai for a place to sleep was beautifully directed. The panels tell a moment that plays out in your mind like a movie. You really felt her frustration followed by her sudden determination to prove to herself that she can do this. It was quite an emotional issue and I like that for the most part it was pretty serious too.

THIS STORY REMINDS ME OF A MOVIE

Like I just said, I liked that this issue was more serious than the first two. As I read through it, I started to appreciate the lack of jokes. I’m not saying they were absent but they were dramatically toned down. The trials that Ibuki went through to get to meet Oro on the battle field reminded me a lot like a Rocky movie. Even the fact that she didn’t defeat Oro but went the distance with him is a Rocky moment if ever there was one. I look forward to her showdown with Makoto in the final issue as a sort of Apollo Creed match. (I suppose that would make Elena either Mickey or Pauly?)

TASTEFULLY DONE HUMOR

As for the bit of comedic element in the story, I found Oro to be the biggest shock. In the games, I got the impression that he was a very quiet and reserved master of darkness much like Akuma. To see him as this jovial sort of goofball really took me by surprise. It wasn’t too over the top but still not the kind of personality I was expecting. I’m glad the way the comedy was done was so that the character could still be seen as an enlightened individual. By the end of the fight, despite the jokes and half heartedness Oro had going into battle, I still felt like it was a satisfying bout.

GREAT JOB ALL AROUND

With one more issue left to go before Ibuki’s story ends, I’m very pleased at the pacing this series had compared to Chun-Li’s. I think that Mr. Zubkavich is one of the more talented writers that I’ve read in a while and Omar Dogan reassures me why he’s a favorite artist of mine. I give this issue four out of five stars and have to resist rating it higher because I’m already bias towards the art/artist.

Rating: ★★★★☆