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The Ghost of Christmas Past Comes Back to Bite Me

December 24th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

First off, merry Christmas. Hope you’re having a great holiday. I myself have been blessed with some nice gifts like a Superman bathrobe, a broken Mr. T boxing puppet, a Duff Beer wallet and a La Parka mask.

Look at that style. Is it just me or does this look like it was taken in the 70′s?

Anyway, that’s not why I’m posting.

I’ve been hanging around the internet for many years. David and I have known each other for, what, 12 years at this point? Fact is, I’ve been around and I’ve moved around. Like back in the day, I was a writer on a site called Higher Voltage that’s long gone. It was a middle-ranking but funny site about fighting games, which were everywhere during the late 90′s/early 2000′s. On the forums, I wrote up a poem as a goof of a writing exercise where I retold the story of the Grinch with Akuma from Street Fighter. Under the gag name “Vokter Seuss”, I entitled it “How Akuma Kicked Christmas’ Ass”.

Some people liked the poem and it got reposted onto the forum of Shoryuken.com, the top fighting game community site, which, unlike Higher Voltage, hasn’t fallen into internet obscurity so many years later. I don’t recall when I wrote it, but it’s about ten or eleven years ago. Definitely college time. It got brought up again every few years and it’s even been retold through some really impressive animated gifs, which I sadly cannot find a link to at this moment.

As the years continued, it was pretty much forgotten. I, for one, had forgotten I wrote it. A brief Google search shows that some forums still repost it every couple years, which is really nice. The real shock came when an old internet acquaintance from the Higher Voltage days NeoChaosX found me on Twitter to tell me that the story has been revitalized once more. This time by Maximilian, a big name in the fighting game community who is known as a pretty good mind when it comes to the game genre.

Renamed “How Akuma Stole Christmas”, the thing absolutely made my day.

For a little context, I was really big into obscure Capcom game Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure at this time and there are a handful of references to it in here. From Iggi the dog in the Max role to the head-shaking namedrop of Death 13 (just pretend he says “Freddy Krueger” and it’ll make more sense). The knowledge that only three people will know what I’m talking about there is pretty embarrassing, but that’s not on Maximilian. Everything else is wonderful and I can’t thank him enough. That was a great Christmas gift.

I feel like Honey in that old Tiny Toon Adventures episode where Babs Bunny is showing those old Bosko and Honey cartoons and– see, there I go again. None of you have any idea what I’m talking about.

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This Year in Panels: Year 1

September 20th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

A year ago I talked to David Brothers about an idea I had for the site. I had tried writing reviews of weekly releases before, but I never got into it. There were a couple reasons and they’re both about redundancies. I can tell you about how great the latest issue of Captain America is, but so will every other site. There are so many other comic sites that will give better reviews of new stuff that I don’t know why anyone would give a damn what I have to say among all that. Then there’s the fact that comic quality doesn’t change so often within the series’ run. If I tell you that Captain America is great one month, chances are it’s going to be just as good the next. Why waste my breath? If I want to give you my opinions, I want it to at least be interesting and hopefully unique.

I thought back to the first issue of the Agents of Atlas miniseries from several years back. The general response of people who read it and tried to push it was to point out that there’s a scene where a 1950′s robot runs down a hallway while carrying a talking gorilla and that gorilla is firing four uzis with his hands and feet. I figured that maybe that could be the unique way to cover the comics of the week. I’d settle on one panel that really pushes what the comic is about, more than often more than the cover does. It’s no longer so much a review as it is giving you a gist on what we all read. At the same time, I would make sure not to have any major spoilers. If the comic has Wolverine beat up Daken in the climax, then I won’t show it. I will, on the other hand, show them about to fight it out.

If anything, it was also an excuse to keep me from straying from doing anything for the site too long at a time. I’d have a deadline of some point every Sunday and I’ve been pretty good on that. I’ve only delayed two weeks and those were because of a lengthy power outage and the loss of my computer.

I didn’t know if it would work, but David said to go for it. Now it’s been a year and I thought it would be fun to do an extra installment in a retrospective form. The idea was to pick one of my favorite panels from the previous 52 weeks, but with the challenge of not double-dipping from the same title at any point. Here we go!

Adventure Comics #4
Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates and Jerry Ordway

Amazing Spider-Man #617
Joe Kelly, Max Fiumara and Javier Pulido

Read the rest of this entry �

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Ryu Final: It’s Tiger Awesome!

February 26th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

I’ve always been a fan of the Street Fighter games and their stories. With the sudden resurgence of the series with its kickass new videogame and horrible, horrible new movie which I will unfortunately see on opening day because it probably won’t be in theaters anymore by Saturday, I’ve been checking out a lot of the comic-related stuff. While UDON has three different Street Fighter comics coming out at the same time (Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter IV and a Chun-Li miniseries), I decided to give the manga Ryu Final a look.

I’m not usually a manga guy, but we had it at work and I wanted to give it a shot because it takes place during the course of Street Fighter III. I love the SF3 games and they never get any play. They always appear neglected by Capcom and a lot of the fans, such as the lack of any of its characters in SF4. I should also bring up the bizarre and confusing ordering of the game series’ canon. Some games replace others in continuity, even when they appear to be sequels. By the end of it, it looks like this:

- Street Fighter
- Street Fighter Alpha 2
- Street Fighter Alpha 3
- Super Street Fighter II Turbo
- Street Fighter IV
- Street Fighter III: Second Impact
- Street Fighter III: Third Strike

All while sharing the same universe with Final Fight, Rival Schools and Saturday Night Slam Masters.

Ryu Final takes place during Third Strike, the latest entry in terms of continuity. It follows Ryu, piecing together nearly all of his character interactions and the game endings that relate to him. A run-in with Ken ends with Ryu defeated and questioning why he even fights in the first place. Soon after, he meets with a crazy 150-year-old man named Oro who soundly defeats him and forces him under his wing as his new apprentice. The two of them wander the world together as Ryu takes on various SF3 characters like Hugo, Yun, Yang and Dudley.

This quest for answers brings Ryu closer and closer to his final battle against his main nemesis Akuma. Which reminds me that the manga is completely worth reading just for a flashback sequence that shows Ryu’s origin. Long story short, a younger Akuma saves a very young Ryu’s life by jumping out of the shadows in a cave, punching his fist THROUGH the back of a bear’s skull and stopping with his fist inches from Ryu’s face. The manga does well in adding more dimension to the Akuma character, even including an odd Killing Joke moment of laughter between Ryu and Akuma before their fight.

For me, it all boils down to how awesome Sagat is. For those who play the games, you’re probably wondering what the hell Sagat has to do with anything. He wasn’t in any of the SF3 games. As far as the canon goes, Sagat and Ryu agreed that Ryu would seek out Sagat when he was ready for them to have their true, clean fight. So during SF3, Sagat is just chilling out in Thailand. In this book, Ryu does meet up with him as to fulfill his promise of a rematch and the entire thing is totally sweet.

But there’s another part that’s great involving a flashback. We go back to see Sagat after SF1′s conclusion. Ryu had sucker-punched Sagat and gave him a huge, bloody wound on his chest in a major upset. Sagat’s top pupil has lost faith in him and Sagat has lost faith in himself. He responds to his loss by tearing apart trees in rage.

Then he finds that he almost crushed a kid during this. The boy is laying there, horribly wounded and half dead. A doctor finds that the wounds were caused by a tiger mauling him. There are poachers out there who will force children to act as decoys for the sake of catching their prey. Hearing about this, Sagat races into the jungle.

“What am I doing?! Am I going to defeat the poachers to avenge the young boy…?! NO!! I merely want to avenge my own honor… That is all I fight for! This has nothing to do with compassion… This is about making myself feel better! What a petty man I am! But… I don’t care! No one can stop me now!!”

There are two hunters going after a giant tiger. One gets mauled to death. Sagat steps in and stares down the tiger until it leaves. The surviving poacher is grateful, but Sagat calls him out on exploiting the children. He begins to slap the shit out of the guy repeatedly while bitching him out. His chest wound is still fresh and the pain kicks in again, causing him to hesitate and allowing the poacher to escape into his camp. The poacher brings out a little girl and holds a gun to her head, saying that he’ll let her go if Sagat forgets this night ever happened.

The wounded little boy from earlier shows up and yells at him to stop.


After the flashback, we see that these two siblings have grown up to be farmers who are loyal and close to Sagat. Sagat rules so very much.

But yeah, Ryu Final is worth a try if you’re riding the SF4 high. The UDON Street Fighter stuff isn’t bad either, now that it’s coming out regularly again, but I noticed a big problem in Seth’s plan in the first Street Fighter IV issue:

Don’t do it! That guy in the bottom right beat up Batman and can tear your spine out! Wait, never mind. I forgot that I hate Crimson Viper. Forget I said anything.

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