Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hero of the Week #13: Joker

Real Name: Unknown
First Appearance: Batman #1 (Spring, 1940)
Group Affiliation: NA
Gaming Credentials: Batman: The Caped Crusader (1988); Batman (1989); Batman (1990); Batman: Revenge of the Joker (1991); Batman: The Animated Series (1993); Adventures of Batman & Robin (1994); Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000); Batman: Chaos in Gotham (2001); Batman: Vengeance (2001); Batman: Dark Tomorrow (2003); Lego Batman (2008); Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe (2008); Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009); DC Universe Online (TBR)
Infinite Wars Cumulative Ranking: #333

In a week that saw the release of what's already being touted the 'best Batman game ever', how could you possibly look past the lead antagonist for "Hero" of the Week?

The Joker has been a cultural phenomenon for decades, but was most recently reinvigorated by the Academy Award winning performance of the late Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Mark Hamill successfully leaps out of that long shadow, however, to reprise his critically acclaimed take on the clown prince of crime from the 90's Animated Series, delivering a more traditional take on the character when he gets the plot rolling in Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Fans who favoured the PS3 version of the game will have the added treat of being able to play through as the Joker himself, in what I would describe as a rare advantage for the Sony version of a cross-platform title, in this generation.

It's interesting to think about what the Joker has to offer in a video game, let alone one that's so specifically attempted to live up to the prestige of the brand. In a medium where interactive elements have inherently demanded a succession of difficulty, you wouldn't necessarily expect the Joker to lead as many gaming titles as he has. Previous generations have let the killer prankster get by on the kinds of gimmicks that have typified the character's more friendly appearances, but with modern video games preoccupied by the advantages of realistic simulation and technology erring to favour the visceral, a skinny clown isn't what you'd expect for an ultimate showdown.

Arkham Asylum will live and die by it's story, I would imagine.
Plenty of lip service has been played toward capturing Batman's iconic role as a supreme martial artist and astute detective, but at the end of the day, it's the characters and plotlines that will sell an identity for the game. In 2009, the Joker had to be a part of that image, but I wonder if his role as puppet master in a 'house of horrors' game will hold the title of 'greatest appearance' for very long.

With it's moody art direction and reasonably faithful recreation of the iconic world of the comics, this is definitely a far superior affair to any film tie-in The Dark Knight could have produced. In Arkham Asylum there can be no doubt that there's a pointed design to the experience, which can provide as much as any new release comic book or "graphic novel" with a greater chance for interaction.

Unfortunately, often times there's more to Batman than fighting and detecting.
Certainly, the dynamics of the relationship between Batman and Joker go much deeper than simple cause and effect, which is how a physically unimposing character has maintained his role as the Batman's arch-nemesis. It will be very interesting to see how the game can explore this, particularly when taking control of the character. Here's hoping Arkham Asylum delivers a more involving experience with the Joker than the Green Goblin play-through of 2002's Spider-man.

If you haven't already, check out 1up's rundown of the Batman titles of the past.
Glancing through a catalogue that includes the promising all the way to the justly maligned, I can't help but ruminate on the past and present. There've been a lot of Batman games said to have topped the others, but Batman Forever stands out in my mind as a release to make the most significant switch from revered, to maligned. Granted, digitized beat 'em ups have suffered this fate on a whole, but it makes me wonder further what the future might hold for Arkham Asylum, and if, and how, future generations can improve on the mould.

Preferably with a version that doesn't give the obnoxious emo kids a cypher to channel their whiney teen angst and rebellion through. Buncha chumps!

Secret Wars on Infinite Earths: The Comic Book Fight Club is updated with varying consistency, promising a feature fight for every Friday on the calendar (even if sometimes they're late). The site acts as an information resource, discussion site, review blog, and a Generation Y-hating good time.

<< Hero of the Week 09/05: Scarecrow       [Home]       Hero of the Week 08/17: Aquaman >>

Originally posted: http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=9002297

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hero of the Week #12: Aquaman

Real Name: Orin
First Appearance: More Fun Comics #73 (November, 1941)
Group Affiliation: Black Lantern Corps
Gaming Credentials: Justice League Task Force (1995); Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis (2002); Justice League Heroes (2006); DC Universe Online (TBA)
Infinite Wars Cumulative Ranking: #54

Comics fans know Aquaman as one of the classic "big seven" members of the Justice League, but even they have a hard time not making fun of the guy. Let's face it, when it comes to the gammut of superpowers, a guy who can communicate with your pet goldfish isn't exactly the first person you talk to when trouble's afoot. He's more like the guy you get to take care of said-goldfish, while you show Batman where the nasty men nabbed you.

So lame has Aquaman's career been that, after spending the nineties with a beard and a hook for a hand, DC finally gave up on trying and killed him off in 2006. For ordinary folks like you and I, being deceased would probably really effect our careers, but three years later, Aquaman's about to get the respect he sought for so long!

If you thought Aquaman had a bad attitude in the nineties (after Charybdis had pirhanas eat off his hand), then you clearly haven't had a chance to read his "return" in last week's Blackest Night #2! The series, DC's blockbuster summer event for 2009, tells of the prophecized creation of a brand new army of powerring wielding agents -- the Black Lantern Corps!

See, it turns out the Green Lanterns were just first out of the gates, and there's actually an entire spectrum of primordial powers based upon emotive energies that can be harnessed through energy rings. Yellow Lanterns harness fear, Blue Lanterns hope, Red hate, Orange avarice, Violet love, and Indigo compassion. What's black, I hear you ask? Black is the all consuming darkness of death and they're recruiting everyone you ever loved and lost!

So, what was the first order of business for the Black Lantern Aquaman?
Like so many evil dead tend to do, he spent his time hurting the ones he loves. He slapped around his grieving widow (who had the sense to impale him with a trident, mind you), sent some dead ex-girlfriends to literally rip out Aqualad's heart, and used his Dr. Dolittle trick to get some sharks and eels to do the heavy lifting when it came to slicing and dicing some Atlantean soldiers. Even when he's got an evil powerring, he's still too weak and lazy to do the killing himself! Whatta prick!

Sadly, Midway missed out on a prime opportunity to make a lasting impression on Aquaman with their last hurrah, Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe. I think it would've been a prime opportunity to do the character justice, but alas, if you're keen to get your mits soggy in this generation, you'll have to wait for next year's universe-spanning hero-filled MMO extravaganza, DC Universe Online.
There you'll have the opportunity to not only bump into Aquaman, but also most of your other famous (and infamous) heroes and villains from the DCU comics. A prospect probably a little bit more attractive than going back to play the Gamecube/Xbox clunker, Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis. Ecco the Dolphin, it wasn't! Ouch! To think Hawkman hasn't been in a video game yet, but that atrocity was created! Here's hoping Battle for Atlantis stays dead and buried!

Blackest Night and Blackest Night spin-offs are on shelves most Wednesdays, from DC comics. You can find out more information from the official DCcomics website, IGN's Blackest Night mini-site, or various other sources. Blackest Night #2 -- starring Aquaman -- should still be available from good comics retailers!

Secret Wars on Infinite Earths: The Comic Book Fight Club is updated with varying consistency, promising a feature fight for every Friday on the calendar (even if sometimes they're late). The site acts as an information resource, discussion site, review blog, and a whale-slapping good time.

<< Hero of the Week 08/24: Joker       [Home]       Hero of the Week 08/10: Batman >>

Originally posted: http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=9001702

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hero of the Week #11: Batman

Real Name: Bruce Wayne
First Appearance: Detective Comic #27 (May, 1939)
Group Affiliation: Justice League
Gaming Credentials: Batman (1986); Batman: The Caped Crusader (1988); Batman (1989)Batman (1990); Batman: Revenge of the Joker (1991); Batman Returns (1993); Batman: The Animated Series (1993); Adventures of Batman & Robin (1994); Justice League: Task Force (1995); Batman Forever (1996); Batman & Robin (1997); Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000); Batman: Gotham City Racer (2001); Batman: Vengeance (2001); Batman: Dark Tomorrow (2003); Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu (2004); Batman Begins (2005); Justice League Heroes (2006); Lego Batman (2008); Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe (2008); Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009); DC Universe Online (TBR)
Infinite Wars Cumulative Ranking: #1

Back in June "we" made current-comics Batman, Dick Grayson, the second HOTW.
Bruce Wayne might currently be MIA in the comics, (as a result of a run-in with Darkseid), but the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum demands recognition of one of the most enduring legacys in comics history -- the one true Batman!

As one of the most widely recognised superheroes in the world, you'd think Batman would've had a better record of representation in video games. Sure, he doesn't have the immediate lure of heat vision, leaping tall buildings, or hocking school buses at alien pro-wrestlers, but when it comes to the pantheon of superheroes, few are held in as high regard. With a library of must-read stories that include Batman: Year One, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: The Long Halloween, and many more, the 1939 costumed detective has had one of the most impressive runs in the history of the medium! Throw in exploits in television and film, like Tim Burton's 1989 Batman; Christopher Nolan's contemporary updates, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight; the celebrated Animated Series of the nineties, and the sixties live-action show, if you're feeling generous; and you've got an empire that pretty much leaves only video games to conquer!

So, what is the Batman's secret to success over seven decades?
Arkham Asylum probably presents one of the best examples of exactly what that is!

By showing a wonderful ability to walk a fine line between the grim plausibility and urban reinvention of the recent Nolan films, and the more fantastic comic book images that have been the foundation of this media dynasty; Arkham Asylum is able to tap in to all things that make Batman great!

You've got grand visions of villains like Joker, Bane, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, and Harley Quinn, who all service a greater plot of story provided by animated series and comic book scribe, Paul Dini. Dini is joined by fellow cartoon collaborators, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, who reprise their roles as Batman and Joker respectively, further adding to the credibility of a game that never loses sight of the power fantasy aspects of playing as the Dark Knight. Often absent emphasis on the detective skills of Batman add to the brain/brawn formula of a DC hero often described as the absolute ultimate in human ability. Players have these incredible natural skills enhanced for them by in-game modes and tech-upgrades, whilst simultaneously combatting Arkham foes with the Dark Knight's martial arts expertise and penchant for urban warfare tactics of terror -- the "theatricality" lamented on by Batman Begins.

The iconic Arkham Asylum itself plays an integral role to the game, serving up a fixed landscape akin to Silent Hill, with it's grim and dim rusted facade and tortured hospital soul. It's a brilliant way of creating a Batman experience that doesn't rip over the expectations of a sprawling Gotham City encounter. Instead, it's a very personal, driven experience that's contained enough to allow for a constant monitor of story that coexists with action.

This truly is the Batman gamers and comic fans have been waiting to see!
With the Dark Knight out of action in the comics, it's the perfect way to get a Bruce Wayne Bat-fix, too! A real triumph for DC Comics, who've been slow to really capitalize on their powers in feature films and video games in contrast to Marvel's runaway successes. This might just be the turning point in the same way Batman Begins and The Dark Knight put them on top of movies!

Secret Wars on Infinite Earths: The Comic Book Fight Club is updated with varying consistency, promising a feature fight for every Friday on the calendar (even if sometimes they're late). The site acts as an information resource, discussion site, review blog, and a Kryptonian good time.

<< Hero of the Week 08/17: Aquaman       [Home]       Hero of the Week 08/03: Ryu >>

Originally posted: http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=9001043

Friday, August 07, 2009

Reborn #2 When: October 2009
Why: Ed Brubaker How: Bryan Hitch & Butch Guice

The Story So Far...
With the superhero factions split by an ideology of freedom and rights, it seemed appropriate for Captain America to lead them against his former comrade and newly appointed Director of SHIELD, Tony Stark. With the registration of powered individuals being enforced with extreme prejudice by Stark's SHIELD, it made perfect sense to take the fight to the other side as hard and true as they would any other force who threatened these basic principles. It made sense to enter into a Civil War with former friends, allies, and loved ones -- until the fighting filled the very streets that were tainted by a battle that killed hundreds, and it was time to surrender to a greater good.

By giving himself to Tony Stark -- Captain America seemingly confirmed the fear and suspicion that had seen him branded a rebel and traitor. He had appeased the establishment enough to declare an effective ceasefire to the superhero Civil War, but sacrificed himself in the process. His legend would appear to have one final passifying role to play, however, when, grandstanded infront of an audience of citizens and reporters, Captain America was gunned down and killed...

To the world, sniper fire by Red Skull's right-hand assassin, Crossbones, was responsible for killing the hero. In truth, it was a blow dealt by Sharon Carter -- Cap's former lover, ally, and an Agent of SHIELD. A blow dealt under influence from the Red Skull's brainwashing, with a far more devious plan in tact. For Captain America would not simply be murdered before the world's eyes, but rather, displaced in time and space, allowing the Skull and his co-conspirators opportunity to pluck Steve Rogers into their grasp at any moment.

Thus; the great Captain America is thrown from the turmoil of one war, to the nightmare of those wars he had already fought, his consciousness shunted from one time to another, reliving the horrors, but unable to act. In the theatre of 1944, the Captain awakens beside soldiers he knows will die, in a battle against another of the Red Skull's right-hand men, with the future so far away.

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Master Man 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Capt. America 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Master Man 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Capt. America 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Capt. America 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Capt. America 2 (Projectiles)

- With a frail body unable to support the willing spirit it contained, Steve Rogers was deemed a fitting candidate for an experimental Super-Soldier Serum devised by defected German scientist, Abrham Erskine. Operation: Rebirth was a success and the once feeble Steve Rogers was transformed into the ultimate man, nimble and strong, brilliant and adept. The Super-Soldier came with a price, however. Dr. Erskine was murdered by a double-agent during the experiment, before his serum could be shared. Thus; Steve Rogers is forced to walk alone as Captain America, the sentinel of liberty, America's finest fighting hero in the Second World War!

Alongside the finest soldiers the Allied Powers could muster, Captain America led many successful missions, a dynamo beyond human imagining. Even though he started alone, the Captain would eventually find equals and employ the aid of a boy sidekick -- the deceptively skilled Bucky Barnes! Together, they joined the likes of Sub-Mariner and Human Torch in forming the allied super-powers known as The Invaders! Their battles against the Red Skull, Baron Blood, and the many powered menaces of Hitler's Nazi Party, would make them the stuff of legends!

Possessing enhanced physical attributes as a result of the Super-Soldier serum, extensive training in hand-to-hand combat, and an invincible vibranium compound shield, the Captain would even continue his fight into the decades that followed the Second World War! After being frozen in suspended animation and floating lifelessly in arctic waters, Captain America was discovered by the Avengers! Thawed out in the modern day, he continues to fight for truth, justice, and the American way, an uncompromising ultimate man who stands with gods!

- A frail American Bundist and Nazi sympathiser; Wilhelm Lohmer threw himself upon the scientific mercy of the Nazi Party in an experiment using an alternate version of the Super-Soldier Serum created by scientist, Dr. Abraham Erskine. The results embued him with powers far surpassing those of his US counterpart, Captain America, granting him super-human strength, speed, endurance, and flight. The powers proved temporary, initially, but were later made a permanent part of his arsenal as he became the Aryan √úbermensch, Master Man.

Master Man regularly battled the allied heroes of The Invaders throughout the Second World War, and returned to terrorize their surviving members in the modern age, having been placed in suspended animation by Baron Strucker in the mid-forties, along with his female counterpart, Warrior Woman.

Additional: Since his retroactive introduction in 1975, Master Man has become a relatively regular fixture of Marvel's fictional Second World War setting. Another Ed Brubaker flashback, in Captain America #5, Captain America and The Invaders were successful in defeating Master Man and the Red Skull. At present, this is the only other battle between the two characters featured on the site.

History: Captain America (1-0-0)
The Math: Captain America Ranking: Captain America (#7)

The Fight...
In 1944, the mind of a Captain America who has lived more than half a century beyond this point awakens. Trapped within his own body he relives an experience he remembers well. On a hill, there is a castle, and in this keep, the Red Skull attempts to enlist the occult influence of demons in the name of his Fuehrer and the Nazi agenda. With hard fighting soldiers at his front and back, the Captain knows they will win this fight. Even if Master Man -- Hitler's favourite ubermensch -- will succeed in dealing death to the side of right.

Even as he remembers, gunfire ricochets off his shield. He dives toward to his men, warning them of an incoming attack. They spill back and the Master Man leaps into the air, defying gravity with designs to destroy Captain America.

The human missile is sorely mistaken if he believes himself an unstoppable force. Like a clash of ideologies, star and swastika collide, Captain America's invincible shield against Master Man's invulnerable chest. The Captain's strategy to cut his opponent off eventuates with spectacular success, a mortal man taking the wind out of a superhuman monster! The blow sends them hurtling toward the castle backdrop, Master Man's body absorbs the impact.

Calling upon fantastic enhanced strength and agility, not to mention months of training and determination, Captain America repells off the face of the broken keep wall, leveraging Master Man's body out of the hole it made, and over his. The gymnastic maneuver positions him above the fall, once more, with speed enough to prevent Master Man any chance of reply

The two figures plummet downward, courtesy of gravity and an impressive move on the Captain's part. As he falls with shield pressed against Master Man's body, he considers the weight of knowing what is going to happen. When he lands atop Master Man, who crushes a bystanding vehicle, he considers the expertise of a Reed Richards or Tony Stark, who might make better sense of his time travelling predicament.

Master Man lies unconscious, for a moment or more, we cannot know for sure. The battle will play out as it always had, without the pondered influence of a Captain America from this time's future, to victory none the less. The world begins to fade from the confused Captain's conscious perception, and once more, he becomes displaced in time...

The Hammer...
This fight may have ended with a potentially inconclusive result, but we certainly saw Master Man in a state resembling defeat, and Captain America himself told us how the fight ends at the beginning, any way. Hey! If you can't trust Captain America, who can you trust? Thus, I give you our winner.

The time travelling theme of Reborn certainly fits the nature of this post, which is being written in November 2010 as part of a backlog series. It has been my feeling that the stories and battles of 2009 were simply too good to ignore. 2009 was also the first year this humble Comic Book Fight Club had the opportunity to reflect the year itself, with featured fights running concurrent to the comics themselves. The freshness of these reviews is obviously long past, but the desire to crown a 2009 champion from 2009 reviews is still relevant.

It would be difficult to talk about a project like Reborn without acknowledging developments that have come since. At the time, it was comparable to Flash: Rebirth, another secondary 'event comic' that bolstered the presence of a once absent hero. Ultimately, the specifics of Reborn were far closer to Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne, which is only now [in 2010] concluding a similar tale of an iconic hero displaced in time. For Batman, it was his Final Crisis trist with Darkseid that created the circumstances for an apparent death, and his shunt into time. By inevitable comparison, the Batman tale proved superior in origin and conclusion, a more satisfyingly conceived tale, simpler in it's details despite an apparently convoluted series of circumstances.

Despite his acclaim, I have found myself very critical of Ed Brubaker's work in the past. Unfortunately, that criticism remains a throughline on this site, where Reborn ultimately felt underwritten in it's execution, and ill considered in it's specifics. Where Grant Morrison has taken superhero comics into a new era by revelling in the absurdity of their aged and justified design, Brubaker appears much less confident, creating an understated tone that's appropriate to portions of the tale, (the WWII sequence featured), but clashes awkwardly with vital mechanics and characters that should have more energy around them. Bryan Hitch's pencils and the inks and colours they're oft associated with contribute to some of the uncertainty of this direction. For a story of this nature, a greater sense of adventure and embellishment might have been appreciated.

By running concurrent to Brubaker's similarly plodding revamp of the WWII-era Marvel Universe [The Marvels Project], scenes that retell Cap's famed beginning seem like even more unnecessary interruptions. A fight with Master Man is a fun action sequence for five opening pages, but with yet nine more dedicated to the origin, and several pages to an unremarkable fight scene between the Dark Avengers and Cap's allies, the issue feels bloated with air.
With Chris Evans set to star in Captain America: The Fist Avenger mid-2011, it's hard not to be a little suspicious of Reborn's preoccupation with restating Captain America's origins. Some similiarities between the design Evans will wear, and the part-Golden Age, part-Ultimate outfit worn in Reborn, are noteable. Might this have been part of Marvel's efforts to return the honus of redefining characters for the screen to the comics? I guess we might never know. The only alternative seems to be aspirations of a definitive work -- a functional honor I can't see Reborn claiming beyond it's monthly readers, and not just for negative reasons.

While I would've preferred an indulgence more in keeping with Brian Bendis' work on New Avengers; Brubaker's Captain America finally crawls out of an isolated corner, to rejoin the Marvel Universe. As a means to an end, Reborn succeeds in inititating the necessary stages to bring us to Marvel's Heroic Age, which might even justify the visual tone of Reborn as a juxtaposition, if not it's slow script.
I'm personally uncomfortable with some of the details, like whose body was where, and why Red Skull and Arnim Zola would go to such absurd lengths to displace and reclaim bodies, fake deaths, and other devices handled bettern in the Batman version, but at the end of the day, as a book that restores Marvel's iconic conscience, it is something new, and something necessary.

It wasn't bold and indulgent, but the invitation of Dark Reign into this book, and the appreciable build-up to Siege, is also a nice thing to see. Captain America's death was a small and personal affair, chiefly contained within that isolated run of Captain America. It seems like balance to have everyone involved in his return. Of course, it's connection to Dark Reign and Siege inherently defines it as a piece of the puzzle, and a less apt example of Marvel's fictional Second World War than the Brubaker's sister series, The Marvels Project. Earlier, more direct accounts of Captain America's origin exist, but if film-going audiences need Bryan Hitch to be tricked into absorbing the comics shared universe, then maybe I shouldn't be so critical. Let's wait and see how successful it is, though.

At the end of the day, I think modern audiences have come to accept certain things that may or may not make a good comic book. Reborn #2 contains maybe threads connecting it to other characters and realms of Marvel Comics, but doesn't contain too many contexts or plotlines. I find it hard not to be cynical about this cult of personality and acceptance of quantity over quality, but I don't want that to overwhelm the fact that there are enjoyable facets to this comic.

I chose to feature the fight between Cap and MM over the bigger battle between Dark Avengers and Avengers because, at the end of the day, it's one of the most enjoyable sequences in the comic. Master Man might actually be a creation of the modern age, but he is a reflection of our on-going relationship with history in this medium. The rest of the book might not feel savvy, but in that opening fight, I feel Brubaker and Hitch embue the smart things about comics. It's a simpler version of the colourful indulgence with which I believe [Grant] Morrison paints, and it is good. Just as it's been good to see both series embracing their legacy components, Bucky Barnes (Captain America) and Dick Grayson (Batman).

At the end of the day, Reborn is a series that amounts to 'Captain America is back', and that's really all you need to know. I would recommend investigating further before making a purchase, but would also suggest that it might slot neatly into holiday shopping if arranged with other stories.

Civil War, Death of Captain America, Siege, and their many spin-offs and tie-ins come together to form a saga that has shaped the Marvel Universe. Reborn interacts with each in a different way, and may be worth consideration in that context.

The Fight: 4.5 The Issue: 4

Captain America: Reborn is available in a single collected volume. By using Amazon purchase links provided, you help give back to the site. The Infinite Wars Amazon Shop contains collected editions of most issues reviewed in the five years of Infinite Wars spotlight reviews. You can find more info on all of the competition in the Secret Archives. Cheers!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Hero of the Week #10: Ryu

RYU (Capcom)
Real Name: Ryu
First Appearance: Street Fighter (August, 1987)
Group Affiliation: Gouken Dojo
Gaming Credentials: Street Fighter (1987); Street Fighter II (1991); Super Street Fighter II (1994); Street Fighter: The Movie (1995); Street Fighter Alpha (1996); X-Men vs Street Fighter (1996); Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (1996); Pocket Fighter (1997); Street Fighter Alpha 3 (1998); Street Fighter III: Third Strike (1999); Street Fighter EX3 (2000); Capcom vs SNK 2 (2001); Marvel vs Capcom 2 (2002); Capcom Fighting Evolution (2004); Namco x Capcom (2005); Street Fighter IV (2009); Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (2009); Tatsunoko vs Capcom (2009)
Infinite Wars Cumulative Ranking: #18

Not to start things off on a wild tangent, but a string of bad techno-karma has seen my electro-house of cards come tumbling down around me. A couple of weeks ago it was my scanner, then it was the proverbial shatting of my ancient PC (now resurrected), and most recently, the death of the nucleus of my blogging, my now powerless laptop. Gotta love technology, eh?

Fortunately, a few weeks later, my precariously balanced network of technology has been successfully resurrected in much the same way as the Street Fighter franchise!

Season '08/'09 has been very good to Capcom's definitive fighting franchise!
SF relaunched on the back of the now widely acclaimed modern sequel, Street Fighter IV, and piggybacked a 2D retro revival of mid-nineties classic, Super Street Fighter II, repackaged with all new sprite artwork handdrawn by comics art studio UDON, as the downloadable Turbo HD Remix!

The dominance of the brand continues with the long awaited digital release of fan-favourite mash-up, Capcom vs Marvel 2!
One of the most hyper-active releases in Capcom's catalogue; the game smashes an eclectic roster of heroes from their properties, up against heroes and villains of the Marvel Comics universe, source over a string of licensed games starting with X-Men: Children of the Atom!

Front-and-centre, as you'd expect, is Street Fighter's franchise hero from day-one, Ryu!
Business for the martial arts nomad (and wielder of the hadou ki) has been busier than ever, despite being overlooked for the illfated cinematic venture for the series [Legends of Chun-Li]. Starring in two new [game] releases and two significant revamps has been but the tip of the iceberg, an interactive platform upon which narrative exercises have been undertaken in comics.

UDON -- yes, the ones behind HD Remix -- have been working with the Street Fighter comics license for the last half of the decade, and after all this time they're about to embark on a journey into the most significant structural moment in the game's canon -- the Street Fighter II tournament!

The narrative direction of the line of comics -- all written by Ken Siu-Chong -- have struggled to build a convincing sense of the Street Fighter story. As an art studio-cum-publisher; their greatest strength remains their unquestionable ability to capture the energy and style of the games, and original Japanese crossmedia productions, through artistic competence and fan service.

Their version of the story has meandered through various maxi and mini series, leading them from the original Street Fighter series published by Image Comics, to the current Street Fighter II Turbo incarnation, which will officially launch the SFII tournament in issue #8. It continues on from the stories told in the previous series, Street Fighter II, which established the pending rematch between Ryu and his Muay Thai rival, Sagat, and the lurking presence of Akuma, who also awaits a destined clash with the Japanese fighter.

The cumulative influence of the year's gaming releases, the upcoming UDON comics, and the fact that Ryu's story managed to remain at the centre of the Street Fighter universe, is all the reason we need to crown him HOTW!

Secret Wars on Infinite Earths: The Comic Book Fight Club is updated with varying consistency, promising a feature fight for every Friday on the calendar (even if sometimes they're late). The site acts as an information resource, discussion site, review blog, and sensei-murdering final boss!

<< Hero of the Week 08/11: Batman       [Home]       Hero of the Week 07/27: Iron Man >>