Street Fighter is a hot commodity these days. The venerable fighting franchise has always been bigger than it’s roots as a much loved video game for button mashing Gen Xers, but 2009 will surely create new fans. Street Fighter IV was recently released on next-gen consoles as the first in the series since 1999, and has been lapped up by players across the globe, mainly due to it’s new characters, amazing graphics, and old school 2D battle plane. With the cinematic release of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li starring Smallville’s Kristin Kreuk as the titular high kicking heroine, things are looking up. Of course, SF fans have had plenty of comics to read over the years, especially the faithful output of Udon Studios, who have been creating SF comics since 2003.
Their latest series, Street Fighter IV is a four issue mini-series that expands upon the new game. Produced by mainstay creators, writer Ken Siu-Chong and artist Joe Ng, the first issue centres on Crimson Viper. She is one of the four new fighters in the game, and along with the others Rufus, El Fuerte and Abel, will be the stars of the series, as they interact with more familiar Fighters. It begins with a clandestine meeting between the red-headed assassin Viper and a man known as Vincent representing the Shadaloo Intimidation Network, hoping to recruit her for a secret mission. After some cheap theatrics, she accepts and reports to her unknown boss. We then meet Abel in London as he breaks up a gun running operation with some fancy flipping and throwing, allowing him to draw closer to S.I.N and the mysterious man behind it, Vincent. During his down time the French fighter reflects upon his past as a Jason Bourne-like amnesiac with intense training and mad fighting skills. In the last few pages, Viper uses her hi-tech gadgets to break in to a German company to steal some data, busting a few heads on her way out to report to Vincent’s superior – an imposing classic character known as Fifteen, who resembles a blue robot. Fifteen charges Viper with more targets to take down.
This issue is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Udon’s Street Fighter work. It looks fantastic, with great costume design, great page layouts and hectic fight scenes. It really does have the feel of a non-stop action film. The story is somewhat simple, with no real surprises, but for SF fans this will be just what they’re after. Viper’s hi-tech moves and gadgets are something that I’ve never seen in a Fighter before and is a nice touch and Abel’s two page self-narrated flashback is rather awkward, but it does shed some light on his past. Udon’s comics are always full of cameos and faithful interpretations with manga-infused eye candy. If you’re a fan of the franchise, who isn’t reading this series, you need to change that, and start experiencing the adventures of the Fighters off the screen. Hard core comic readers who want depth and intensity won’t find that here, but readers new to comics will find it easy to warm to this series.