Monday, April 19, 2010

Hero of the Week 2010 #15: Ryu

RYU (Capcom) (2009)
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); Super Street Fighter IV (2010); Marvel vs Capcom 3 (TBR/2010)
Infinite Wars Cumulative Ranking: #19

It's been a busy few years for the wandering world warrior called Ryu, but then, it's been a busy few decades too, hasn't it? You might have been led to believe the fighting spirit had left Ryu and his Street Fighter fellows at the turn of the century, but with arcade tangents like Capcom vs SNK 2 (2001) and Marvel vs Capcom 2 (2002) garnering huge followings, it's retroactively safe to say Street Fighter never truly went away. Things certainly got quiet for a while there, though.

2008 gave us the news many had been waiting a decade for -- Street Fighter IV!
With it has come a parabolic swing that finished the double-ohs with the upward momentum of the early nineties! In truth, Street Fighter IV was a follow-up announcement to the retro revival of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, but with comic book art studio UDON taking so long to complete their newly drawn HD sprite artwork, the franchise return led like their Japanense posterboy, with the power play of a finishing blow -- hadouken!

Ryu gathers his ki for a hadouken fireball in Street Fighter IV!

With SFIV has come a veritable torrent of titles, including a brand new crossover spectacle with the animé studio responsible for Gatchaman, Casshern, and Tekkaman -- Tatsunoko vs Capcom. That won't be the last fight Capcom picks with another company in this new era, but before we look toward the future, another fight is concluding...

For seven years, UDON have been the proprieters of the Street Fighter license, allowing them to not only produce comic books based on the popular fighting franchise, but also branch out as their own autonomous publishing group, UDON Comics, now responsible for handling adaptations of various Capcom brands (Rival Schools, Darkstalkers, Final Fight).

After publishing various incarnations of their Street Fighter series independently and through Image Comics, UDON arrived at the 2008 launch of the twelve-issue maxi-series, Street Fighter II Turbo. This was the summit of their various plotlines leading to their version of the official Street Fighter II tournament, which was summarized with elimination brackets I discussed in a previous blog. With the tournament beginning in issue #8, it's been a rapidfire of eliminations as UDON put a hint of plot to the established facts of the games, culminating in the Super Street Fighter II Turbo-inspired defeat of Bison at the hands of an uninvited Akuma -- and the subsequent confrontation between he and Ryu.

As has been the case all along, I struggle to offer any definite recommendation for the series. These comics are an indulgence that the average reader of the medium would not be especially interested in, lacking the fundamental attention to detail that most comics take for granted. As evidenced by the long awaited return of Akuma, the series has contained a string of pandering moments that fans of the Street Fighter characters and story would greatly appreciate, but without the focus or intent of conventional plotting or characterization. They come a distant second to the elaborative martial arts adventure and philosophy of Masahiko Nakahira's manga stories, Street Fighter Alpha and Street Fighter III: Ryu Final. Good, but not great. Faithful to the material and probably only for the diehard fan.

Currently, UDON are publishing a four-issue mini-series, the third in their Legends deviations which have included tales starring Sakura and Chun-Li, and now unleash SFIII high school hijinks in Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki. It comes as the group's first series-centric elaboration of the infamous Street Fighter III characters and canon, which was originally slated for it's own series, but has since become slightly less certain amidst delays. This makes Street Fighter II Turbo's conclusion all the more worthy of acknowledgment as UDON close the most significant chapter in their adaptation of the Street Fighter canon. The comic book exploits don't end there, of course...

Being generally busy has allowed me to write this HOTW feature up late to include the trailer of the long speculated and now officially announced sequel, Marvel vs Capcom 3!

In hindsight, it probably isn't all that shocking, given Marvel's previously announced animation deal with Tatsunoko, and the cancellation of their relationship with EA [during production of a now aborted sequel to Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects]. Did those factors have a part to play? Hey, who cares?! Marvel vs Capcom 3 is on the way to home consoles, and is already promising a roster of characters that will surprise fans in number, and perhaps even in scope of choice. Capcom have, afterall, established a precedent of unusual draftees from the Marvel side (Shuma-Gorath, anyone?).

It's going to be a very exciting few months as fans play the guessing game based on silhouettes revealed in promotional artwork. Deadpool and Captain America are a sure thing. Is that Thor? Could we really expect Super-Skrull to make the line-up, or are pointy ears a fake-out for Green Goblin, or some other unanticipated choice? With a hint of anticipation for this eventuality, I took a look at some of the characters that never made it into the MvC line-up in a blog back in 2009. I suspect, however, that there'll be more blogging to come. What fun!

Iron Man, Wolverine, Hulk, Chris Redfield, Morrigan, and Ryu, are all already confirmed. Which is a perfect reason, along with Super Street Fighter IV and the Street Fighter II Turbo comic book, to make Ryu our Hero of the Week!

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