RYU versus BALROG
"Super Action Series"
Where: Street Fighter II #1 When: July 1994
Writer: Masaomi Kanzaki Artist: Masaomi Kanzaki
The story so far...
Super cool wandering warrior, Ryu, has found his way to the man-made manhattan of the island, Shad.
While looking for a decent meal, he runs afoul gangsters who have been plaguing a small family owned restaurant for insurance money.
Ever the hero, Ryu comes to the aid of the sexy store manager, but not before incurring the wrath of the gang boss -- former boxing champion, Balrog!
Ryu offers Po-Lin and her little brother Wong-Mei a chance to free themselves of debt if they bet money on him to win the fight. But does Ryu have what it takes to win?
Tale of the tape...
Okay, this isn't a typical super hero clash, but using the Haseloff system of categorizing powers and abilities, hopefully these relatively human characters can be accurately shown to measure up.
Fans of the video games will recognize Balrog as a pretty big deal, especially considering this is Ryu's first fight in this particular incarnation of the manga. Although not the easiest or most versatile of playable characters in the Street Fighter games, Balrog has to be acknowledged as a big deal.
Strength: 4 (Steroid popper)
Speed: 3 (Trained athlete)
Fighting ability: 4 (Trained fighter)
Like any real prize fighter, Balrog's keys to victory are in his technique and ability to execute. While regarded as a supremely skilled fighter, Balrog is also known for his ferocity, a fact that saw him thrown out of the boxing circuit.
In a street fight, that viciousness could be his greatest weapon, combined with his incredible strength and relative speed.
Stamina: 4 (Athlete)
Fighting ability: 5 (Martial artist)
Energy: 3 (Explosives)
As a Shotokan karate fighter, you can enter into the debate of martial artist versus boxer very easily. Rather than try to split hairs, let us just assume that each have been measured by a universal standard, and that standard has ranked Ryu a more skilled fighter.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of Ryu's technique, particularly against one of the few Street Fighters unable to harness their ki, is his hadou-ken and shoryuken attacks. Balrog's strength would likely allow him to out fight Ryu through sheer power, but he has to be in close to do that.
Kicks, and energy attacks are Ryu's most likely chance, and you'd have to think it's a good one. Apart from being one of Street Fighter's most revered hero characters, he's also extremely skilled.
What went down...
Little Las Vegas! The grudge bout of the century!
"You're mine..." "Let's do it."
As the fight kicks off, Balrog takes the aggressive offensive, moving in with a barrage of punches and fancy footwork.
Ryu manages to block them all, and moves in for a roundhouse kick, but gets nothing but air.
Balrog's speed is on display as he dodges the kick, and find's Ryu dazed and confused. He unloads with a dashing uppercut, ripping the ribs of the Japanese fighter.
The pummelling continues as Balrog gives Ryu everything he's got. A flurry of high speed punches seem to be too much for Ryu, who really never got out of the gates, as he hits the mat.
Balrog's team greet the champ as all hope seems lost for Po-Lin and Wong-Mei's, who were betting the shop on this one. However, to the shock and amazement of everyone, Ryu gets up!
"When you were in the ring, nobody ever survived your combinations.
But now, you don't even have a third of your old strength."
Balrog goes berzerk! He tosses his towel aside and charges into battle with Ryu, as the Japanese fighter berates him, lamenting on his fall from grace.
The taunting is too much for the former champion, who puts everything into his last punch - but it never connects.
Ryu unleashes his hadou-ken attack, putting the finishing move on Balrog, but the threat isn't over. An over zealous goon lines Ryu up in the scope of his rifle and fires at the victor.
Fortunately for Ryu, a mysteriouso stoic Guile emerges just in time to deflect the shot and destroy the gun. Balrog shows signs of turning a new leaf, denouncing the sniper attempt. He is gracious in defeat.
By his own opponent's omission, Ryu emerges as the obvious victor.
It's probably not surprising that I'm a huge fan of beat 'em up video games, and the characters therein. Street Fighter is certainly among my favourites, and this was a long time coming.
I'm pretty sure something from the UDON efforts will turn up on Secret Earths soon enough.
This particular issue serves as this month's attempt at fulfilling the 'obscure' slot. I really know very little about the origins of the book, or what became of it.
Like other beat 'em up comics, I never saw anything beyond the first issue, but I'm not certain whether it failed to make print, or just wasn't distributed.
I actualy bought this issue at the time in a supermarket magazine section.
Generally in Australia, at the time, comics were sold in newsagencys (as well as comic shops, of course), so this was quite an unusual find.
As far as I know the book itself was a Japanese reprint, that may or may not have been printed by Marvel comics. The brand printed on the cover, as you may or may not be able to see in my scan, is Tokuma Comics.
Hopefully by the time of the March punch-up, I might be able to tell you more about this little gem. It's not terribly faithful to the Street Fighter story, but it's still a favourite.
NOTE (Nov. 29, 2007): The Tokuma Shoten series has been translated and reprinted in it's original black and white unedited form, by UDON comics. If you're picking it up via Amazon, consider yourself informed!
The Fight: 3
The Issue: 4
NEXT WEEK: Green Arrow bashes his head against a brick wall!