Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Review: Street Fighter II - issue #2

As usual, I'll start off by stating that my only qualifications as a reviewer extend no further than my love for comic books (and, in this case, video games). I'm not an academic, when it comes to this particular topic. I just talk about what I like and what I don't like.

Oh yeah. And I offer spoiler warnings because I believe in "Do unto others..."

Last week, I picked up three comic books. As much as I dig comics, this really was kind of a big deal because I'm pretty much trade paperback- and hardcover-exclusive, these days. Obviously, something about these three books REALLY caught my eye.

The first book was the long-awaited conclusion to Kevin Smith's (yes, THAT Kevin Smith) Spidey mini-series, SPIDER-MAN/BLACK CAT: The Evil That Men Do, issue #6. There was a year or more between issues 3 and 4, so I had no business buying this, considering how strongly I feel about that kind of thing. I hoped Mr. Smith would redeem himself, though so I bought it, anyway. Unfortunately, I felt like most others, regarding the content.
This was a story that was not worth the wait. At all.

The second book was first issue of the current A-Z volume of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. I'm not sure what the precise title is. Considering how disappointed I was in the changes they made to the Handbooks over the past decade, including the past two or three years, it was unlikely that I'd pick this issue up. As it turns out, though, the creators felt strongly enough about their work and our opinions of it to drop in on a ComicBookResources.com thread I started called, ESSENTIAL: Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. It started off being about the Essentials volume, but soon we were critiquing the newer volumes and comparing them to the old ones that some of us love, so much.
I still have issues (no pun intended) with the current volume, but I still enjoyed this issue.

I don't see a picture of the latest volume, so here's a pic of one of the issues I happen to own from back in the day:

Finally, we get to Street Fighter II, issue #2. Check it. I'm a fan of just about ALL of Street Fighter's incarnations and iterations. When a cartoon, comic book, or movie comes out that was inspired by these characters and their stories, there's a GOOD chance I'll pick it up. I'd collected the previous series (on a monthly basis since they only offered an Archie Digest-sized collected volume) until it kinda disappeared. Apparently, it was cancelled, but I didn't know. It's too bad books are so late, these days, that a comic can disappear for so long without us realizing it's been cancelled.

Anyway, I wasn't too enthused about Street Fighter II (although I thought it was clever that they started a new volume by tacking the "II" suffix, from the game, onto the end). But I flipped through it and was immediately drawn in by the artwork and the story.

The art is almost ALWAYS on-point, in these series. Something about the style really speaks to the origin and spirit of these characters. The action is fluid, the detailing is superb, and the contrast (via inking, coloring, etc.) is such that I don't usually have a problem figuring out what the heck's going on... unlike in certain other books.

The writing drew me in because the tale immediately acknowledge the past, while expanding on it to create a, somewhat natural, future. This didn't feel like a story someone was writing for a deadline. It just felt like this is what these characters would've experienced whether we were there to witness it or not. I dislike it when people use the word "organic" to describe inorganic things (which is no worse than "natural," I suppose) but it really seems to apply, here.

Character growth actually occurs. Character depth is revealed. Character ass-kickin' is definitely present.

This damned book has it all. Now I'm dying to get my greedy lil hands on issue #1.

Below, I'll talk about a couple of specific details of the story:

Dhalsim as teacher? Whodathunkit? But it WORKS.
I always wondered about his relevance, but I never thought he had THIS kind of potential. Damned if it doesn't work, though.

Sagat humbled enough to become a student?! And Dhalsim shows himself to be capable of puttin' it TO Sagat?
Again, whodaFREAKINthunkit?! Sagat becomes more than he was before, as a fighter and as a man. Damn, Dhalsim, what'd you do to him? *insert obligatory and inappropriate jokes here*

Ryu goes to Sagat's former teacher to explore the beast that dwells within him?

No, not THAT one!

Enh. Close enough.

Anyway, this issue has a lots to offer any Street Fighter/comic book fan. Highly recommended.

What do YOU think?
Questions? Comments?

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