AKUMA versus GOUKEN
Where: Street Fighter II #1 When: November 2005
Why: Ken Siu-Chong How: Arn
Well, that didn't work terribly well, did it?
If you missed out, I thought I'd throw up a twenty-four hour poll to narrow down the selections for this week's Street Fighter entry. The results were... non-existent, to put it politely, which might just be a commentary about the Infintie Wars regular readers, and SF.
If you've got feelings on Street Fighter - good or bad - I encourage you to drop a comment and let us know!
In the meanwhile, we roll on to take a look at two significant historical points in the Street Figher history, each important to the shaping of destiny for the franchise mascot -- Ryu.
As significant as Ryu [and Ken] have been to identifying the series, another character has managed to follow on the tradition of the "shotos" to, for some, overshadow them. That character, as even many casual gamers will know, is Akuma; better known in Japan as Gouki.
Akuma is said to be the brother of the martial arts master who schooled Ken and Ryu in their ansatsuken style of karate. Gouken and Akuma each trained under the master Goutetsu in this style, but Akuma would become seduced by the dark power of the Hadou-ki harnessed in their style. His compulsion for fighting would see him swallowed by the dark hadou, and he would eventually kill Goutestu, perfecting his shun goku satsu attack -- the raging demon.
Akuma made his first appearance in the game series in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, leaping into the arena to defeat Bison if all sub-bosses are defeated without losing a round, before then challenging the player to final battle.
Akuma became the first hidden character in the Street Fighter series, following the now historical April Fools gag in a 1992 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, which described a non-existent secret character hidden within the game.
Becoming a stalwart of the series, Akuma would become fleshed out as a villain of murderous intent governed by a strict code. Only the strongest fighters would be worthy of his lethal intent, including Bison, whose reign as chief antagonist of the Street Fighter series would be brought to an end by the wandering fighter.
For Ken, and particularly Ryu, Akuma would remain the subject of unfinished business. Ryu's own mysterious origins would begin to intersect with Akuma's as he finds himself confronted by the same Dark Hadou that corrupted his master's killer. Fandom would begin to question whether Ryu and Akuma may be tied not only by blood spilled, but by that which flowed common in their veins.
Perhaps the only man who could have ever been trusted to deliver Ryu the truth was his adoptive father, Gouken. It was before Ryu's conquests as a Street Fighter that Gouken found himself face-to-face once more with his brother.
Confronted at his dojo, Gouken finds himself forced to fight to again prove the supremecy of his pure art over the zealous faults of the Dark Hadou.
He unleashes a mighty leaping strike on his brother, who makes the claim that Gouken should have killed him when the chance was his.
Denouncing Akuma's self-destructive path, Gouken explodes with the mastery of the unknown arts, delivering a swift kick which sets Akuma up for the rising fist of the sho ryu-ken!
The blow of the dragon fist isn't enough to rattle Akuma's cage. He charges a dark hadou-ken fireball, blasting his brother before attacking with a rising knee. He professes a the brilliance of his developed dark style, and makes threatening speculations about whether or not Gouken's students would be more receptive to his art.
Distracted by fear for Ryu, Gouken leaves himself wide open for the killing blow. Revealing to his brother the greatness of his Dark Hadou, Akuma utilizes his shun goku satsu -- raging demon attack -- murdering his own brother in his own dojo!
Leaving the symbol of his kanji smeared in the master Gouken's blood, Akuma leaves his brother dead, to be discovered by his greatest student, Ryu. So begins the inevitable clash between Ryu and Akuma. In the name of revenge, or justice?
This is the path it seems Ken Siu-Chong and UDON comics will eventually come to explore, in a far more confronting manner than that of the Alpha animated movie, which sees Akuma retaining his neutral qualities to an extreme unimaginable for a confrontation between murderer and student.
One would imagine this arc will coincide with the convergence represented by Bison's tournament, which has been alluded to as the purpose of the current incarnation of the Street Fighter II on-going series. At this point in time it's actually hard to tell if a tournament is quite literally the intentions of the writing, but I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Evil Ryu is a well known variant on the character depicted in the games, and as Ryu walks a nomadic path across the world, the series looks to poke and prod at how well prepared Ryu will be for both his confrontation with Akuma, and the possession of the Dark Hadou. The tempered change seen in Sagat [Street Fighter II #2] is a good indicator for hope for Ryu, which is a segue into...
The Fix: 4 The Issue: 5.5
[I'm not generally a big fan of variant covers, but when it comes to an issue I'll take whatever's on the shelf. It just so happens this is a superb Ed McGuinness cover, which I'm very fond of! Arn provides a harsh digital painted style for the prologue feature here, reminiscent of Ted Wing III, who provides covers for The Kirby Martin Inquest!]
RYU versus SAGAT
Two Years Ago... (UDON)
Where: Street Fighter #1 When: September 2003
Why: Ken Siu-Chong How: Joe Madureira
... So, it's a bit of a Street Fighter history lesson in today's entry. Hopefully you're all paying attention, and taking notes, because there might be a make-up poll sometime in the future. (Actually, that seems highly unlikely...)
Before the eventual expansion of the [game] series with titles like Alpha, most fans were probably more familiar with Street Fighter II, whether they knew it, or not.
Alpha, [called Zero in Japan], boasts one of the fullest rosters of characters come it's third incarnation; but is traditionally regarded as a prequel, begging the question: What happened to Street Fighter 1?
Perhaps naively, I thought UDON might have taken a slower burn to the Street Fighter franchise, particularly given the good will engendered by their association with CapcomUSA. As it stands, the series have mostly been dedicated to adding a linear condition to elements established in the Alpha and SFII games, with the spine of the story revolving around, we believe, events leading up to Bison's SFII tournament.
Largely skimmed over are the events of Street Fighter, which was a significantly less successful side-scrolling beat 'em up game, maligned for it's easily broken arcade punch-pads. It featured many characters popularized through revamps in the Alpha series, most prominently; Birdie, Adon, and Gen.
Street Fighter gave a second-player the option of playing as Ken, but featured Ryu in the main player's slot, and the occupying portion of retroactive story.
It was here that Sagat made his first appearance, acting as the final regional boss in his native Thailand, and for the entire game. The canonical significance of the first game can be distilled into this single fight.
In UDON's account, Sagat taunts Ryu as he throws a spinning kick into a block.
Fighting undercover with an audience gathered, Ryu attempts to block a charged tiger blast with his own ki attack, the hadou-ken!
Sagat's blast proves too powerful, throwing the Japanese fighter into the air!
Dust kicks up as Ryu digs his heels in to screech to a grinding halt. Sagat, aggressively seeking to maintain the advantage, charges and leaps into the air, his giant Muay Thai knee leading.
Sagat's airborne attack inadvertently puts him in the perfect defenseless position for Ryu's rising shoryu-ken!
The rising dragon fist rips through Sagat's chest, spraying a gush of blood from the wound that opens up in the arc of the punch!
The mountain of Muay Thai muscle comes to a harsh crash landing! Leaving his scarred opponent in a puddle of blood, Ryu leaves victorious.
The details of the fight have varied over it's many interpretations, but the retroactive significance is always the same: This is the moment Sagat becomes Shadaloo's pawn, as he inevitably begins a bitter quest for revenge on Ryu.
The strength of their rivalry diverges depending on individual characterization, but the bond between the characters remains in most translations.
Bison is seen in the UDON strip, fulfilling his retroactive role as secret financieer for the first street fighter tournament. He would emerge from the shadows for Street Fighter II, with a trio of fighters at his side; Vega, Balrog and Sagat!
That about wraps up our passing through the Street Fighter universe for another week. If you've just joined us, you might like to know that we're sponsoring a Street Fighter into our top five ranks through weekend reviews! Duh!
Tomorrow the statistical spectacular continues as we wrap up Marvel: Ultimate Alliance Mondays with our month of DOOM! Further emphasising that as much as this is a website dedicated to superhero comics, there's no denying that the video game is friend to the fanboy.
The Fix: 5 The Issue: 6
[This was the first time I ran across Joe Madureira's pencils since his infamous withdrawl from comics work, to "play X-box." Regular readers will know Joe Mad for his role as upcoming penciller on Ultimates 3, being written by Jeph Loeb, who will reteam with collaborator Ed McGuinness for Ultimates 4. FULL CIRCLE, peeps!]