Review: Street Fighter Unlimited #2

Have you ever heard of the Marvel Method? Supposedly, it was a once popular means of comic book production where, essentially, the writer(s) would conjure a basic concept. An artist would then draw a more or less complete book. After the fact, the script writer would drop in bits and pieces of dialog and narration. The upshot of this process was that comics, as a visual medium, excelled at spectacle and led with their looks. In this way the illustrator can take charge and determine much of what defines an issue, a run, or an entire character history. However, the artist needs to be a talented storyteller and designer to make the most of this method. I can't claim to understand how the sausage that is Street Fighter Unlimited gets made. But some of the book's weaknesses seem to be born out of an "art first" approach. There's just isn't much narrative to speak of.

SFU2_CoverA_StoryThe villainous messiah Gill is one aspect of Street Fighter that loses a bit in the transition from game-based foe to comic antagonist. It is almost entirely impossible to take Gill seriously. Through (mostly) no fault of the artist, Gill is a laughable menace. He's painted half-blue and half-red, split down the center of his mostly nude body. He wears his golden hair like a 70s disco god. And his dialog is so unsubtle in its religious fervor one can’t help but wait for a punch line that never comes. One thing I will criticize the artist Joe Ng for on this front is the absurd, inaccurate musculature wrapped around Gill's body. I know the guy is meant to look powerful, and I know he isn't exactly human. But the oblique muscles on abs on lats on... unidentifiable lumps look strange beyond the character's basic design. At one point Gill seems to flex his clothing off before bumping a space rock like a volleyball. It is very silly. Ng's probably dealing with the twin limitations of the source material and the UDON house style, trying to give us an intimidating figure. And to his credit, he's a gifted illustrator.

In issue two we get our obligatory fight -- this time featuring the businessman/boxer Balrog. Ken, in a sign of personal growth, defeats the knuckle-headed brawler before actually meeting with him, and without throwing a punch. But, the title of the book demands fisticuffs. And so Balrog submits to the will of the Street by flying into a blind rage. At times the action here is a little difficult to follow. It flows well enough without wasting space, though.

I wish Street Fight Unlimited's team had more freedom to explore character relationships and designs. However, they are bound by the constraints of the license more than restrictions of talent.

Score: 3/5

Street Fighter Unlimited #2 Writer: Ken Siu-Chong Artist: Joe Ng and Jeffrey Cruz Colorist: Espen Grundetjern Publisher: UDON Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/20/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital