Sunday, September 30, 2007

Where: Street Fighter II #3 When: February 2006
Why: Ken Siu-Chong How: Alvin Lee

Quick Fix...
Okay, I'm going to start this entry way off on a tangent.
Earlier today I spent a disturbing amount of time sifting through google hits, conventional and blogsearch, looking for dates and issue numbers. I couldn't find them.

I do my best to make sure Secret Wars on Infinite Earths is a multi-layered and enjoyable reading experience, several times a week. If I might not always live up to that lofty expectation, I always find great pride in including explicit and relevant information for cross searching needs.

Now, let the minutes show that it is indeed Sunday, and therefore we must address today's pressing Street Fighter business. On today's agenda, two of the new warriors that made their debut in the revision title, Super Street Fighter II.

When a lot of casual fans think of Street Fighter, they're actually thinking of Street Fighter II. It was in this revamped sequel that the series left behind it's simpler side-scrolling to develop fleshed out characters, and the beat 'em up style that we all know and love. Characters like Ken, Ryu, and Sagat were all explicitly transplanted from the first Street Fighter into the sequel, but for the most part the game boasted a whole new cast of World Warriors.

Super Street Fighter II introduced a brand new quartet of characters from Greece, Jamaica, Mexico and Hong Kong. They were Cammy White, Dee Jay, T.Hawk and Fei Long respectively, and each would become stalwarts of the series.

It was Cammy who undeniably made the biggest splash, becoming an iconic instantly recognised pin-up in a similar fashion to predecssor Chun-Li; a contrast to cult additions like Dee Jay, and today's first subject, Thunderhawk.

T.Hawk's revenge story is ultimately one familiar to the genre.
He enters the Street Fighter tournament seeking revenge against Shadaloo mastermind and final boss, M. Bison, who harrassed the Thunderfoot tribe from their land, and ultimately murdered T.Hawk's rebellious father.

Like many of the most memorable supporting characters from the Street Fighter franchise; T.Hawk's model represents a two-dimensional quality to characterization. He presents much less martial arts style than other characters, instead erring for a strong ethnic charicature to strengthen his identity.

UDON maintain Thunderhawk's strong ethnic visuals, but extrapolate his role to incorporate the strong law enforcement representation to better initiate the character into the story. Chun-Li and Cammy White leave Guile behind to meet up with T.Hawk in his native Mexico, pursuing leads that involve Shadaloo's experiments with brainwashing -- a scenario Cammy herself escaped from.

Waiting for T.Hawk in a diner, Chun-Li and Cammy find themselves in the midst of an armed robbery. Their uniforms attract the attention of the gang's ring leader, prompting the two to debate combat honors, but it is ultimately the arriving Thunderhawk who takes control.

He makes light work of the two stragglers, making his dramatic first appearance with the collision of the would-be robber's heads.

Looming over the crooks, T.Hawk takes the surprised leader by the shoulder, using his turning motion to swiftly disarm him of his shotgun. With a look of distain, he removes the live cartridges.

Relieved of his weapon, the common thug doesn't stand a chance against the towering Thunder Foot warrior. T.Hawk ducks a punch and unleashes a powerful open-palm style, working the gut with a push before sealing the deal with a chop to the neck that leaves the gunman unconscious.

A gracious host, Thunderhawk apologises for the unsavory welcome, and makes a formal introduction to Chun-Li and Cammy.

UDON do well to incorporate elements of T.Hawk's Alpha storyline from the video games, building the sub-plot of Bison's brainwashed Dolls, which plays a significant part in Cammy White's mysterious history. As in the games, T.Hawk makes it his business to seek Little Eagle (Noviembre), along with Juli, who is attributed the backstory of being daughter to a German doctor who provided healthcare to those of the Thunderfoot reserve.

There's a question to be asked of UDON's preperation for longterm planning.
The inclusion of storylines like this, which do well to flesh out characters like T.Hawk, also collide with elements from various other installments in the game series, chronologically released prior to the Alpha expansion.

If one were to really look into the subtext of the situation, this might be an inadvertant glimmer of hope for fans of the games. Burning through storyline so quickly could be an indication that UDON's good will with Capcom and association with yet another revamp of the SFII port might be leading to a potential Street Fighter 4. On the other hand, it may yet be another example of short sighted writing from a studio of pencillers.

The Street Fighter license isn't UDON's to own, so the future may in fact be finite, but I can't help but raise the concern once again that this resembles a case of pencillers working as writers. Typical of a writer is longterm consideration, often absent in penciller's attempts to construct story.

I don't actually know Ken Siu-Chong's history, and I certainly don't mean to inflect negativity on his script work for the series, or pencillers in general.
From a position of interest in the future of the series, and a critical analysis, it's just very difficult to get away from these things. With a tournament allegedly the eventual target for Street Fighter II, one can't help but feel there are a lot of storyarcs building that suggest the logical conclusion of closure from such an event. That doesn't necessarily mean that is the case, but it's a theory.

If you have any theories about the future of the series, be sure to drop a comment. I so rarely here from even our regular readers, and lord knows it's unusual to run afoul Street Fighter fans in the thick of the American superhero comics scene. So say hello, because it's lonely out here.

The Fix: 4 The Issue: 4
Winner: Thunderhawk

[Juggling multiple storylines and groups pays dividends in fan service, but the rush of characters and plot points seems too much, spread too thin. The shift to SFII to streamline was an admirable call, but as the issues unfold it again begins to feel as if the central concept is lost, and stories are meandering toward their conclusion.]

Where: Street Fighter #8 When: May 2004
Why: Ken Siu-Chong How: Alvin Lee

Quick Fix...
It worked for Guile in his first appearance in the series [Street Fighter #1], and we just saw a strong showing from Thunderhawk, so I guess it's hard to argue against the gang-fight introduction.

Liu Kang (Mortal Kombat), Marshall Law (Tekken), Jann Lee (Dead or Alive): all characters who may have existed without Street Fighter, but represent the same tradition that saw the creation of Fei Long. One of the very first and perhaps most instantly recognisable characters, Fei Long represents the none-too subtle homage to cinematic martial arts legend, Bruce Lee.

Since his inclusion in Super Street Fighter II in 1993, the Bruce Lee clone has become an archetype of beat 'em up gaming, represented in most major series in the genre. Fei Long represents perhaps the most literal representation of the character, sharing many explicity commonalities in appearance, style, phrase, and story.

Fei Long's character and story remain typically consistent across the many adaptations of Street Fighter into various mediums. When he isn't starring in the next action blockbuster, he's practising the philosophies and mastery of the martial arts, sometimes returning to the street fighting circuit to stay true.

As a young and exceptionally talented Hong Kong film star, Fei Long almost inevitably attracts the attentions of criminal interests in the business.
Invited to star in a picture by ladies Xiayu and Yanyu, Fei Long finds himself set upon by thugs in an alley outside the studio where he has spent the day filming.

Despite overwhelming odds, Fei Long defies the pack of mobsters, unleashing the martial arts skills that made him one of the most popular movie stars in Hong Kong. His kick proves so powerful, it sends Dai Loe, the gang leader, flying through the air to the windsheld of his expensive sports car.

Through a muzzle of blood, the mobster orders his gang to kill the movie star.
Quoting the infamous water philosophy of Bruce Lee, Fei Long unleashes the full extent of his skill. With lightning quick kicks and fists, he takes his undisciplined opponents apart.

Like a scene from one of his movies, Fei Long produces a pair of nunchaku, evening up the score against the mob of thugs, some armed with baseball bats and blades. Attacking with devestating precision, he renders the goons embarrassed and bruised, leaving only he and Dai Loe.

Still on the hood of his car, the mobster draws a knife on the stoic Fei Long. The martial arts superstar's wags his finger, prompting Dai Loe to opt for a clean getaway over a confrontation he will inevitably lose.

Despite the decisive victory, Dai Loe still promises death for Fei Long at the hands of his masters. A fate Fei Long will no doubt meet with confidence of fist.

And with that, we wrap up the last post of the month, and another fine double feature inclusion to our weekend sponsoring of the Street Fighter brand. The October Punch-Up will reveal more on the progress of the Street Fighters against their superhero contemporarys, via the regular super stock listing. The list will also include all the other September movers and shakers in the on-going rankings.

We'll also have another exciting Quick Fix for your consumption, and discussion aplenty about issues of varying importance. Until then, it's midnight and I'm gonna hit the sack. We'll talk more about Fei Long in the coming weekends.

The Fix: 5 The Issue: 5
Winner: Fei Long

[Though seamless from the previous issue, this marked the first of UDON's self-publishing efforts discussed in the previous entry. In a call back to the first half of today's post, it's worth noting that Xiayu and Yanyu are both Dolls from the Alpha video games, rather than Hong Kong gangsters.]

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