Fighting Game Comics Round-Up: Featuring Raul Julia, Wolf Hawkfield and Paul Phoenix!

November 28th, 2007 by | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Back when I was doing reviews on the old Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat comics, I found that there were comics made based on other one-on-one fighting games, such as Virtua Fighter and Tekken. I scored these two one-shots and sat on them for a while, knowing that they would be best saved for a rainy day. More than that, something seemed off about reviewing these two alone. I needed a third comic to round it out. One day, when reading about Street Fighter on Wikipedia, fate smacked me in the face.

Being a D-level comic blogger like I am, rather than turn away from this ink-and-paper demon spawn, I reacted with, “I need to own this!” I don’t know. Since this 4th Letter gig, I’ve been finding myself going out of my way just to read pure shit. Chris Eckert has the market cornered in making fun of Countdown, and yet I find myself wanting in. That’s why when the series finishes, I plan on reading the entire series in one go backwards Memento style! You know. For science. I might even try reading World War Hulk: Gamma Corps with all the text whited out. It might be interesting in a self-torturing way.

Let’s get DC’s Street Fighter: The Movie out of the way, because believe it or not, it’s going to get worse. A lot has been said about the movie. There are a ton of things wrong with it, but the most complained-about part is the complete lack of loyalty to the source.

The game’s story: A serious martial artist and his less-serious best friend go around the world to train and build themselves up as the greatest street fighters. The more serious one is hunted down by a megalomaniac out to exploit the martial artist’s physical potential. This villain is targeted by many, including an American military man and a Chinese Interpol agent who each harbor a personal vendetta. This all comes to a head in a one-on-one fighting tournament, featuring great fighters from all over the globe.

The movie’s story: A megalomaniac takes a bunch of hostages in Thailand. A military man with an American tattoo, despite having a foreign accent thicker than Double Stuffed Oreos, leads a world-wide military team into Thailand to save the day. Two weasely weapon salesmen, a Chinese news reporter and her camera men (who happen to be a sumo wrestler and a boxer) get involved. Plus a scientist turns one of the main character’s friends into a green monster.

It says a lot when you get so far away from the source that your movie has nothing to do with the title. What exactly does an elaborate hostage situation have to do with street fighting? At least, of the 15 characters used for the movie, a whopping two of them – M. Bison and Vega to be more specific – were done right.

The comic is pretty literal towards the movie, so I won’t go through the full story here. There’s still plenty to discuss, such as Nick Napolitano’s art. I get the feeling here that Napolitano is a good enough artist and he does draw Raul Julia/M. Bison well enough in most cases (none of which are in this review), but he doesn’t do too well with a deadline. 90% of all faces look like something he scribbled together real quick so he could just finish and move on with his life. Other times he’ll just shadow out a face for no reason whatsoever. Also, Dee Jay has a Kid haircut.

I’m glad I’m not an artist. Hoatzin must be having a brain aneurism looking at that.

The comic shows me that once you get past the fact that this has little to do with Street Fighter II, the movie isn’t really that badly written. It’s not Shakespeare by any means, but some of the dialogue reads fairly well here when it’s not spoken by Jean Claude Van Damme. The line, “Well, I’m the repo man, Sagat. And you’re out of business. Bon voyage,” isn’t really all that awful. It’s hearing it said as, “Well. I am the REEEPOman. Sagat. And you’re outofbusiness. Bon voy-age,” that makes it cringe-worthy.

After all, this is the same movie that gave us the classic M. Bison “Tuesday” line. If anything, it shows the power of acting.

That was Chun-Li during her Voldemort phase.

I believe this comic is based on an earlier draft of the movie before scenes and subplots were removed. Thankfully, one of Guile’s one-liners was removed completely from the final film.

“G—Guile?! How? I destroyed you… I s-saw it on TV–!”

“Maybe you should switch to cable.”

Really, what the hell? That doesn’t even come close to making sense! If that line was done today and he instead said, “Maybe you should switch to HD,” that would at least be sensible.

That above Bison image may have tipped you off, but the colorist is really, really awful and lazy. Some guys have red eyes for no reason. Some articles of clothing aren’t even colored in. And so on. We’re talking early Scooby Doo levels of flesh-colored eyeballs.

Now that we have the bad art out of the way, what else is left to talk about? There are those missing subplots. Some were removed for the greater good, while some should have remained in. For instance, the comic is filled with a bunch of jokes about how E. Honda is very fat. Taken out of the movie. Good.

Is that some kind of Etch-a-Sketch of Bison’s head or something?

On the other hand, they actually gave closure to Chun-Li’s plot. In the movie, she argued with Guile over her vendetta with Bison. Then she met up with Bison and wiped the floor with him for a minute. The other good guys ran into the room, distracting her enough for Bison to escape and trap them all. After that, she just stood around and did nothing for the rest of the movie.

Here, there’s more to it. When the good guys run into the room, they try to stop her from killing Bison because they need him to release the hostages. She argues with Guile about going after Bison for revenge later on, but he convinces her that saving others is more important. Hey, look! That subplot now has closure!

Another subplot involves Ryu and Ken. Ryu talks about honor and their sensei a couple times, making allusions to a mystical dragon punch. Ken thinks it’s bullshit until their final battle with Sagat and Vega.

Speaking of different endings to fighting scenes, the comic’s version of Guile vs. Bison doesn’t end so well. Bison is so high on his own power that instead of being beaten up by Guile, he instead accidentally blows up a pile of nearby C-4 explosives.

In the movie, Dhalsim becomes bald and shirtless for no reason at the end. Here, it’s at least explained that being covered in the mutagen used to create Blanka is affecting him as well. He figures that it’s probably going to kill him, but I figure this was their explanation for why he’d be all stretchy in the potential sequel. After all, none of the major characters really died in the movie.

Though that brings me back to the comic and the differences. Here, Vega gets stone cold murdered by Ryu.

Finally, there is a weird little running gag involving Zangief and Ken based on this exchange. Hey, if it would have led to more screentime for Zangief, I’d be all for it. I loved that guy.

Ryu looks like a pig in the first panel and a cat in the second. And look at those teeth! And Ryu’s dark gray neck! I told you the colorist did a shitty job! At this point, I’m more surprised by how well-drawn Zangief is in the middle panel.

With that, I think we can move on from Street Fighter: The Movie: The Comic. Let’s go to Marvel’s Virtua Fighter one-shot to cleanse the pallet.

Virtua Fighter was never my cup of tea. It’s widely renowned for having an incredibly deep game engine, but no matter how hard I try, I can never get into it. It’s just too bland. The characters are just so vanilla that I can’t bring myself to care.

That’s what made me fearful for this comic. Virtua Fighter’s story is as follows: a ninja’s mother became a robot, but also there’s a fighting tournament. That’s it. So how do you make a comic out of that?

It all takes place a week or so before the actual tournament begins, with the combatants entering Virtua City and training for their upcoming fights. There’s already a storytelling roadblock here. Of the eight playable characters in the comic, only one of them is a bad guy. Even then, she’s only evil because of mind-control. You can’t just have it revolve around Sara Bryant conflicting with the other seven.

We see the Hunn Dojo, where our generic main character of the series Akira Yuki is an instructor. Already, we have Akira sparring with Jeffry McWild – who is my favorite character of the series because he’s SO DAMN ANGRY – and Pai Chan sparring with her estranged father Lau Chan. Wolf Hawkfield stands nearby and watches.

Due to yapping with Wolf when he should be paying more attention to his fight, Jeffry gets taken down by Akira. Wolf decides to calm Jeffry down by hitting a nearby bar that the hotel clerk told him about. Akira declines, so that he can try and get to know Pai Chan a bit better.

Akira mentions seeing her in a movie called “Big Trouble in Big China”, which if anything, proves that she isn’t at all a major movie star. She’s just one of those crap-ass martial artists who stars in knock-off movies you see in the Blockbuster bargain bin with names that make you think you’re getting a sequel to a totally sweet movie you saw years ago. You know, like The Entered Dragon starring Bru Sli.

Akira tries to get closer to Pai, but she grabs him by the wrist and flips him down.

Huh. Funny that a Japanese dude would have blue eyes like that. I guess that’s always possi… hey! Wait a minute. Let me go back a page.

Now that I think about it, let’s go back even further.

Wow. Three blue-eyed Asians in the same fighting tournament. That’s the weirdest coincidence since that fighting tournament where every male happened to be a flaming homosexual. Yeah, Guilty Gear was a fun game.

The brainwashed Sarah Bryant watches Jeffry and Wolf walk through the rain. She also finds a discarded newspaper and reads the cover story about the excitedly-named “World Championship Tournament”. A hulking figure in glowing red goggles appears behind her, representing the secret society known as Judgement (sic) 6. He tells her that her brother Jacky will be in the tournament. Sarah reacts by crumpling up the newspaper and smashing her fist through a nearby car’s driver’s side window.

Jeffry and Wolf get to the bar, but the music is blaring to the point that Wolf wonders if he even wants to go. He just wants to relax. These three goons in black walk out and get in their faces, saying that this is a private club and they don’t know the password. Wolf ponders why a hotel clerk would give them advice to go to a private club, but Jeffry’s reaction is to just choke a bitch.

The two bulky Virtua Fighters go to town on their opponents. Even when the bar empties out with more punks, they have no problem dominating them. To show that Jeffry and Wolf are the good guys in this situation, one of the patrons punches a random passerby for the hell of it. The overly-angry Jeffry punches that guy out with demands that he should be more polite. Once they’re done, they continue into the bar and enjoy some nice Canadian ale, while lowering down the music.

I really would read a Jeffry and Wolf ongoing. They’re really the only two I ever play as in that game.

Our final segment shows Jacky Bryant going to a diner on his way to Virtua City. A stranger sits next to him and asks him to give some backstory. Jacky is pretty cool with this and even orders the guy a coffee. The short of Jacky’s story is that he was a racecar driver. He got in an accident and was put in a coma. While in a coma, his sister Sarah investigated the crash and found out that it was a sabotage job. She was caught, captured and brainwashed. Jacky’s intentions are to win the fighting tournament and get the money needed to track these assholes down.

The mysterious stranger removes his trench coat to show it’s the blue-eyed Japanese ninja Kagemaru! The people who brainwashed Sarah also killed off his village, so he too wants revenge. Only instead of being cool with Jacky, he acts like a total dick and attacks, with the claim that Jacky hasn’t been telling him everything. Jacky even offers to tell him more and to team up with him, but Kagemaru still attacks him. God, that ninja is a jerk. I mentioned that Jacky bought him coffee, right?

The police show up and the two sneak away. Abruptly, the comic ends with a message that it will be continued in the game itself. There’s also a page of character profiles.

Not really bad. It did a good job fleshing out most of the characters and the art was pretty nice. It reminds me of the old Mortal Kombat comics you could order off the arcade machines.

Last and definitely least, we have Image’s Tekken Forever. Now, the Street Fighter: The Movie and Virtua Fighter comics were one-shots by choice. Tekken Forever was meant to be a four-part miniseries. The second issue never saw the light of day. You’re about to find out why.

It isn’t for the art. No, the art here is very crisp. Maybe it’s because the writer seems to speak English as a fourth language? Yeah, that might have a role.

In the game, Tekken has a fairly good story to it. It revolves around the Mishima bloodline through the generations. The central three characters are corrupt martial artist Heihachi, his abused and now equally corrupt son Kazuya and Kazuya’s more heroic son Jin Kazama. Both Kazuya and Jin each have bouts with a curse that transforms them into a blue demon known simply as Devil. Namco, the company that makes Tekken, went an interesting path with Kazuya Mishima. Not only did they reveal at the end of their first game that their main protagonist is a jerk, but they seemingly killed him off in the following game. Between Tekken 2 and 3, an entire generation has passed. Many earlier characters are killed off and/or replaced with younger incarnations.

Basing a comic on the Tekken story isn’t a bad idea. The catch here is that they base the comic’s story on Tekken Tag Tournament. Tekken Tag is a game that came out in-between Tekken 3 and 4, featuring nearly the entire cast. It’s a dream match type of game, so there’s no attempt to come up with a story. How could there be a story when Michelle Chang is around the same age as her daughter Julia? Not to mention all the guys who are supposed to be dead.

I guess you could come up with some kind of story if you tried hard enough, but this comic doesn’t use that kind of effort. Nope. The first thing we see when we look past the cover is Kazuya Mishima calmly standing over about 80% of the game’s roster, having beaten them in no more than 20 seconds. This includes powerhouses like Heihachi, Paul Phoenix and the game’s final boss Unknown. All while this is going on, his henchman Bruce Irving is singing “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” in the background. I fucking hate this comic.

Jin holds Unknown in his arms and damns his father, claiming that he just learned so much about him and himself. What he learned? No idea. Exposition is for lesser comics. Instead, we have Jin easily take care of Bruce and Ganryu.

Once Jin finishes them off, he gets ready to fight Kazuya. We turn away to instead watch as action cop Lei Wulong, some soldiers and the robot Gun-Jack fight off an army of Prototype Jack robots in Egypt. Unfortunately, any soldier who gets into the nearby pyramid is killed off immediately.

Somebody got paid for that lettering job.

Lei Wulong barges in and finds that all those men have been brutally murdered by Bryan Fury, an undead cyborg guy based on Rutger Hauer’s character from Blade Runner. Bryan shrugs off all of Lei’s bullets and bests him in hand-to-hand combat. When Lei asks Bryan if he ever feels remorse for all the lives he’s taken, Bryan asks back if he feels remorse for every time he flushes the toilet.

At the last second, Lei is saved by Deadpool Yoshimitsu, the loveable cyborg Robin Hood samurai. Blaming his lateness on his alarm clock, Yoshimitsu turns it into a two-on-one fight, while admitting that he might need a couple quarters in case he needs to use a continue. Their joke, not mine.

Jin gets his ass handed to him as expected. Jin stands back up and wonders how he can possibly defeat a man with this “toshin level”. They toss that term around a lot without ever really explaining what the hell it means. To make matters more confusing, whenever they refer to the character Ogre, they call him his Japanese name Toshin. Sure, I can figure it out for myself, but this is another example of this comic’s decision to shove you in the middle of nonsense while forcing you to find your way out.

Paul Phoenix gets back up and thanks Jin for giving him time to recuperate. Since Jin’s mother saved Paul’s life at some point, he asks Jin to stand back so he can get a rematch with Kazuya. Jin briefly disagrees with the grammatically problematic reaction, “But Paul I.” Paul ignores him and stands up to his old rival Kazuya. The following two images take place consecutively.

Somebody got paid for those word bubbles.

This time, Paul absolutely dominates the fight, with the explanation that this time he isn’t fighting for himself, but for Jin. He throws Kazuya through the floor while screaming, “NOW GO TO HELL, YOU SON OF A BITCH!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, a whopping eleven exclamation points. I think Black Bolt yelling is worth only eight.

“There’s life in this old boy… HHEHEHEHEEE”

“That was amazing sir. Didn’t think you had it in ya.”

“Yup, yup. I am a fatty boom batty. I don’t know about you kid, but I am hunggggrryyyy.”

Jesus Christ, I hate Tekken Forever.

We get an interlude with Jin’s mother Jun Kazama. She’s in a self-induced coma, with the character Angel speaking to her. I haven’t a clue what Angel’s talking about for these three pages, but it has to do with Ogre holding a couple babies and the revelation that Kazuya still has good in him. That’s all I can come up with thanks to my babbling-gibberish-to-English dictionary. By the end of the scene, Jun wakes up screaming with a glowing red thing on her forehead.

Total coincidence, only the good guys have woken up from the Kazuya beatdown from the beginning of the story. Eddy Gordo, Ling Xiaoyu, King, Forrest Law and Hwoarang join Jin and Paul. Forrest and King think Paul is pretty awesome for taking down Kazuya, but Jin and Xiaoyu each think it may have been too easy.

The plan is that they’ll go find Forrest’s dad, beat up Kazuya’s army outside (which hasn’t even been mentioned up to this point) and then Paul will treat everyone to french-fries. Hwoarang, who has a hard-on for fighting Jin, gets in Jin’s face and demands they fight at this completely inappropriate time. Xiaoyu tells him to calm down, but Hwoarang grabs her and flings her into the wall.

The Devil Gene awakens in Jin and he begins fighting with Hwoarang. “Since you want to go to hell so badly, fine!!! I’ll send you, and take the express bus getting there.”

The other good guys hold the two back and calm them down. Jin goes back to his human form. Once things look to be back to normal, King and Jin feel a disturbance in the Force. The hole that Paul tossed Kazuya down earlier glows brightly. With little warning, a geyser of energy pours out and knocks everyone back. A shirtless Kazuya rises and tells Jin that he knows how to make him reveal his true nature: Ling Xiaoyu.

No, I’m pretty sure this is the end of the nightmare, because this comic is over and the miniseries is cancelled. I doubt the other three issues would have been anything more than more well-drawn headaches.

Maybe I’m harder on Tekken Forever than Street Fighter: The Movie’s comic because I expected better. After all, wasted potential is more damning than never having the potential to begin with. Then again, at least I could follow the Street Fighter: The Movie comic. I knew what M. Bison was after. What the hell was going on in Tekken Forever? Kazuya wanted to rule the world somehow? Is that it?

Oh well. At least the comic didn’t have Heihachi wearing his diaper thong. Thank heaven for small favors.

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14 comments to “Fighting Game Comics Round-Up: Featuring Raul Julia, Wolf Hawkfield and Paul Phoenix!”

  1. I’ve read Tekken Forever and the Streetfighter movie adaptation before, but the Virtua Fighter comic’s new to me.
    “I really would read a Jeffry and Wolf ongoing. They’re really the only two I ever play as in that game.”
    They seem to make a decent odd couple here, casual Wolf just wants to relax, while big, mad Jeff wants to hammer people. Plus, they have the best names in the series, Wolf Hawkfield and Jeffry McWild. Throw in Jeffry’s daft plot about his rivalry with a shark and you have a potential hit.
    I thought the best sounding part, apart from the burly grapplers, would have to be an ungrateful Kage starting on Jacky after the guy buys him coffee. What a prick.

    I can’t really think of anything I can say about the Streetfighter comic, I only remember thinking that it seemed better than the movie for some reason.

    Tekken Forever was fairly crappy, though I’ll admit I didn’t mind it so much. The dialogue probably got on my tits worse than the story, a hell of a lot of it’s damn cringe-worthy, my personal worst being Hwoarang’s line to Xaioyu about not getting between a wolf and its prey.

    The story is really badly told, it seems to start in the middle with half a dozen poorly explained sub-plots going on at once. It didn’t bother me quite as much as you though, so I guess I’ve got lower standards.
    They also got Lei badly wrong. Rather than being a lovable Jackie Chan knock-off, they wrote him as a hardboiled hardman cop, which doesn’t work as well.

    By the way Vok, did you know that there’s another Tekken comic out there? It’s older than Tekken Forever, and was by some company called “Knightstone”. I only saw the first issue, so maybe it got cancelled really quickly too.

  2. I did not know about that. From what I gather through Google, there were only two issues of it. Much like Tekken Forever, it got cancelled real fast. The writing is supposed to be slightly better, but the art is said to be downright horrible.

    I also just discovered that there was a Killer Instinct comic. Oh man…

  3. Looks like you’ve got your work cut-out for you.

    I agree about Knightstone’s Tekken comic making more sense, but having crappier art. The most memorable part was a panel where a thought-bubble seems to emerge from one of Heihachi’s hands.

  4. To be fair, Image’s payment system is such that the creators don’t get paid until after Image gets their cut. With getting cancelled in one issue, I doubt anyone made a cent off it other than Namco for selling the rights. But seriously, I’ve done better lettering in five minutes in Photoshop with no training at all.

    Also, I want to see a Soul Calibur comic. It has a good backstory that would make for a neat comic, I think.

  5. The Udon comics do Street Fighter justice. At the very least, the art is gorgeous, with Ryu not only actually looking the way he is supposed to look, instead of looking like whatever he was supposed to look like in the Valiant series in the 90’s, but looking pretty dead on to how he looks in the games. And they actually cobbled all the mini storylines together in a way that works. And appropriately, Akuma is one bad motherfucker….they show his murder of Gouken( Ryu and Ken’s master) and it’s a really well done scene. Now I just want Dan to show up and Fei Long to get a a more substantial role instead of just being someone for Yun and Yang to look up to. Have you read much of the Udon stuff?

  6. Dan was in the Sakura miniseries!

  7. Gavok cannot read that miniseries though, because it was good. Sorry, Gav. Zangief unwittingly gets into a fake wrestling match with Rainbow Mika, and is confused into defeat because he doesn’t know about kayfabe. E. Honda officiates a hotdog eating contest between Sakura and her eternal rival, Karin. And, of course, Dan Hibiki.

    You could track down the Malibu series though.

  8. Hm. If I remember correctly, Dr. Dhalsim does collide with some mutagens at some lab tussle towards the end of the movie. No clue on how he balded so fast though, considering Blanka’s change was gradual.

    It’s been a while, I need to check my VCD of it again.

  9. HitTheTargets: I already did a review on the Malibu series. I link to it in the first sentence.

    I have read pretty much all the UDON Street Fighter and Darkstalkers stuff. Except that Chun-Li thing, I think. It’s good stuff mostly, but the gigantic delays cripple the enjoyment.

  10. Nick Napolitano, who drew that Street Fighter adaptation, is now a letterer. The most prominent other comic he did was a video game tie in for the Electro Brain SNES game Vortex.

  11. I went and read the old Street Fighter article (and the MK ones, I had time to kill). Thinking about it, I don’t think I read the Malibu series. The one issue I had was about Chun-Li fighting Blanka, who was trying to become one of Bison’s Generals. It stood out to me because the character I knew was a kid lost in the jungle for way too long, not a guy who gets savors getting blood in his eyes as he goes into a berserker state. Chun-li wins and catches the eye of E. Honda, while Ryu stays in the audience the whole time and catches the eye of Dhalsim.

    Also, I’m pretty sure there were more than three issues.

  12. HitTheTarget, the comic you’re thinking of was written and drawn by a bloke called Masaomi Kanzaki. Wiki’s got a page on it.

    Blanka was quite a bit different from his videogame incarnation, though I can’t say it bothered me all that much. Not all the changes were for the worse, and I’d say that Balrog was more interesting than he was in the game.

  13. […] you recall, a few months back I posted an article that featured the comic adaptation of the Street Fighter live action movie. Sure, I had a ball with it and hopefully you enjoyed it as well, but something felt off about it. […]

  14. street fighter was bad for van dam,
    the comic is you say better,still got mine and still not opened and contains free stickers which i havent seen yet ,,,,,,