Sunday, October 07, 2007

GUILE versus RYU
The King of the Air Force: An Explosion of Menacing Military Combat (Group TAC/Capcom/Manga)
Street Fighter II V Ep. 2 When: April 1995
Why: Gisaburō Sugii How: Kōji Tsujitani/Skip Stellrecht & Tesshō Genda/Kirk Thornton

The story so far...
When billionaire heir Ken Masters contacts his martial arts training partner, Ryu, by letter, Ryu makes the long trek from Japan to San Francisco to reunite with his friend.

Brought together again, the two are impressed with the development of their martial arts skills, and challenge each other as they propel themselves into mischief with the help of their tour guide, Chun-Li.

To spark their quest to develop their martial arts, an encounter with US Air Force thugs in a bar called Mt. Fuji. Though the skillful Ken and Ryu are able to defeat the thugs with ease, their commanding officer Guile may prove more sport.

Previous Form:
Guile (#107): Defeated Shadaloo thug, Birdie, in an issue of the UDON comic.
Ryu (#118): Victory over Balrog, with ties with Ken Masters, and a loss to Sagat.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Guile 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Guile 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Ryu 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Guile 5 (Marathon Man)
Agility: Draw 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Ryu 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Powers: Draw 3 (Explosives)

- Guile is a US Air Force Major versed in various hand-to-hand combat skills not typically associated with any traditional martial arts. His skills and determination as a special forces trainer have earned him the attentions of Interpol.

- Along with his impressive special forces fighting techniques, Guile is also able to harness his ki for trademark energy attacks including the sonic boom, and the flash somersault kick. These give him an impressive scope which compliments his strong grappling/striking technique.

- The Japanese nomadic martial artist Ryu is on the path to mastering a dangerous and nameless ansatsuken karate style of fighting, previously mastered by the brothers Akuma, and Gouken. It has been erroneously identified as a shotokan karate style.

- Ryu's style promotes mastery over one's ki, focused in the form of his powerful hadou ken ki blast, and sho-ryu ken uppercut. When the killing techniques of this unnamed style are mastered, a fighter's hadou ki can become corrupted by an immensly powerful dark version of the hadou.

- Ryu's style incorporates many basic striking punches and kicks, all of which make him a well rounded conventional martial artist.

The Math: Guile The Pick: Ryu

What went down...
Having disposed of the military thugs that menaced them, Ryu and Ken find themselves face to face with their Sergeant - the brush-haired, Guile!

Guile taunts the much younger Ryu with talk of study, prompting Ryu to continue the assault against the senior soldier with a grab of his jacket. Ryu swings through, finding Guile has nimbly slipt out of his coat, leaving Ryu holding it.

Guile takes a ready stance, and provokes Ryu into an all-out attack.
Showing considerable speed for his frame, Guile ducks and weaves around a barrage of punches and kicks, leaving Ryu nothing but air and drywall.

Ryu looks for a flying kick, but again Guile proves too quick, slipping sideways to put a table of drinks in the young Japanese fighter's path.

As Ken, the bartender and the other Air Force punks watch-on, Ryu finds himself tiring after both the fight with Guile's fellow soldiers, and his recent attacks.
Guile taunts Ryu, prompting another wreckless charge that gives Guile the momentum to swiftly bury his fist into Ryu's stomach.

Time freezes at the moment of impact as the wind is sucked from Ryu's gut.
The Sergeant orders Ryu to leave the bar and never return, sending him flying through the air with a devestating backhanded fist.

Ryu comes to a crash landing on another drinks table, sending some female on-lookers fleeing. Guile, assuming the battle is won, attends to his beaten buddies, only to find Ryu again taking a ready stance in the middle of the bar.

Ryu, sweating and beaten, defiantly refuses to concede defeat.
The two fighters charge at each other, Guile proving to be the fresher of the two as he punches Ryu's fist aside, ducks a kick, and follows with a barrage of unforgiving military trained fists.

Taking decisive control of the fight over his tiring opponent, Guile grabs Ryu by the shirt and tosses him over the bar into the shelves of drinks.

The move does surprisingly little, with Ryu reemerging almost instantly from behind the bar to make use of the opened space. He leaps out, flying at Guile with another airborne kick.

Guile manages to block the impressive move, using Ryu's follow-up kick to take the battle close quarters with a grapple that turns Ryu onto his stomach. Maintaining control of the youngster's leg, he tosses him at the wall, but Ryu shows tremendous control, turning his fall into a rolling offensive.

Ryu again springs from the roll, launching once more into a wave of kicks that are blocked by the bulky American. Guile again calls upon his grappling skills, snatching a punch to wrap the arm behind Ryu's back.

With his grip tightening Guile warns Ryu to cease his attack, or he'll be forced to crush his shoulder. Ryu throws his feet up, pushing off the bar to defiantly throw himself backwards, putting Guile between his fall and the hard floor.

Ryu, bleeding from the head and mouth, is reduced to a charging tackle that pushes Guile's spine into the edge of the bar. Enraged enough not to remain shaken, the Sergeant unleashes his full fury with a throng of rips that hit hard at Ryu's already punished mid-section.

Guile beats at Ryu's face relentlessly, putting the exclamation point on the battle with a trademarked somersault kick that sends Ryu high into the air for a harsh descent.

With Ryu down for the count, Guile challenges Ken, who has remained at the bar throughout the fight. Ryu's American buddy fires his own moral code at Guile, who was not present to see his fellow Air Force buddies attempt to gang-fight the two younger tourists.

To the shock of all present, a swollen and bloodied Ryu again staggers to his feet, once again taking a ready stance. Guile acknowledges his determination, walking past the clearly beaten fighter, leading his men out of the Mt. Fuji bar.
The Japanese fighter collapses the moment they leave.

The hammer...
After a hard-fought and brutal bar room brawl, our winner and still undefeat street fighter: Guile!

Much like elements Masaomi Kanzaki's work [ie; Street Fighter II #1], SFIIV takes the familiar characters and motiffs, and recasts them in a different light. This series presents our shoto protagonists as righteous martial artists coming into their twenties, freely characterizing them as brash and occasionally even hot-headed, as is perhaps the case with the battle against Guile here.

On the basis of the first episode, Ken and Ryu were probably within their right, but even acting on the assumption that Guile would join his packrat buddies, they were given ample opportunities to reassess the situation through the fight.
Guile proves to be a harsh but fair taskmaster, challenging the fighters in a way that will continue to be referenced throughout the series, and in many ways is the crucial catalyst for their adventures across the globe.

The uninitiated would come into this episode assuming the brash attitudes of Ryu and Ken, that ultimately repositions them as the antagonists in their fight with Guile, probably assuming that this is just down to a choice in characterization. What's interesting to note, as the series progresses, is that this very fierce, and unruly nature for fighters, is ultimately brought into question by the yoga-master Dhalsim. They are forced to reflect on events just like this one, and reevaluate their methods, in ways that allude to the dangers of the dark hadou, without ever approaching that thematic material.

Street Fighter II V is one of those series regarded by many with some reservation, but for me it probably hit at the perfect time. Through the mid-to-late nineties I made a conceited acquaintance with the vaguely familiar realm of animé, and as a life-long Street Fighter fan, found a great accompaniment to other series that would foster that interest.

SFIIV deviates from the source material in a lot of interesting ways, which make such discrepencies quite forgivable. The violence takes on a new tone as the characters are thrust into a fictional world of organized crime that permeates beyond the cartoon villainy of Bison's Shadaloo, and branches into the corruption of modern society.

Ryu and Ken are forced to contend with knife-wielding gangsters, murderous underground fight clubbers, drug planting frame-ups, prison life, and organized corruption in sport and cinema. All things that build on the existing themes of the military and law enforcement from the games, with characters like Guile (US Air Force) and Chun-Li (Interpol), and the espionage and world crime of Shadaloo's agents.

As we continue our look at Street Fighter, this series will inevitably become a stalwart of the weekends, with many more feature characters still to come.

I had a bizarre online confrontation with a testy, over sensitive, would-be reviewer recently; so more than ever I just want to wrap-up with some of the positives of the comics industry, which can sometimes be overshadowed.
Lord knows, like German tourism, the confused and maladjusted are everywhere!

- Pedro Cruz has begun a new on-going web strip called Cosmopolis that will unfold on a regular basis. Pedro provided pencils, inks and letters for the first issue of The Kirby Martin Inquest, which is on sale online right now!

- A few days ago KJ shared her adventures through Wonder Woman land, and if you've been reading the on-going discussion of the justice scale on the Infinite Wars, you might even like to check out the comments where she's been engaging me in some lively discussion. Very interesting stuff!

- It happened last week when Bully stepped up to the Bahlactus FNF, and lord knows it happened again. In a post truly worthy of the Infinite Wars, see the Invisible Woman take on Crystal! If he keeps that up, I might have to send my chronies around to beat stuffing outta him fer showin' me up!

A couple of overdue thanks too to some of the bloggers out there who are helping spread warbonds for the Secret Earth. Big shout out to Comics Make No Sense, The Sock Drawer, and all the people showing up in the menu.

The Fight: 6 The Episode: 6

[Street Fighter II V is a series that I'm often told went under people's radar, and from what I've heard, it's now being re-run on the Sci-Fi channel for any Americans out there. It's also available on DVD in a twenty-nine episode set, that I am more than pleased to finally own, having never bought the VHS...]

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