Storylines in fighting games tend to be a little on the ridiculous side, trying to shoehorn enormous casts into fighting each other one on one in service of some ultimate goal. Which is why adapting fighting games into other media can be a little tricky. UDON has just brought Street Fighter back to comic books with the recent publication of Street Fighter Volume 1: New Generation, but how does it fare?
The story has Guile investigating a dangerous secret society, but it appears that Ryu has gone missing under mysterious circumstances, leading to an epic search. The book contains multiple chapters, with occasional asides for subplots, but unfortunately, the big problem is the big “To Be Continued” at the end. Obviously, manga is sold in large volumes like this, but when buying a graphic novel in the US, I feel like it’s natural to expect a self-contained story. What’s contained in this book is fine, but it’s clearly just a first chapter. And while a $34.95 oversized hardcover volume is a good format for an art book, it’s a bit much for an ongoing series of graphic novels.
The book has multiple writers, but the important chapters are mostly by Ken Siu-Chong, so it doesn’t feel as disjointed as the art. Each chapter has a different artist, and their styles differ wildly. Luckily, as each chapter cuts between locations and characters, the varying visuals aren’t nearly as off-putting as it might seem. Although as an anthology, some artists are going to be better than others. It’s a high-quality production all around though. And I particularly enjoyed the title pages that feature a character select screen with the stars of that chapter highlighted at the top of the page with the credits below. It’s a clever nod to the source material. There’s also a section in the back featuring sketch pages from various UDON artists of the Street Fighter characters. It’s a fun bonus, but given how abruptly the story ends in this volume, I couldn’t help but wish those pages were another chapter of the comic.
It’s not a bad package, and if you’re a Street Fighter fan who also enjoys comics, Street Fighter V1: New Generation is full of the characters you love and all the over-the-top combat you’d expect from them. It’s well-written and I thought most of the artists were really good. Unfortunately, for the price, it’s difficult to justify buying a graphic novel that’s basically just the first chapter of a larger story. Especially when you don’t know how many more chapters there are going to be. By the end, you could easily spend over $100 on it. So I’m torn. It’s a good book, but that “To Be Continued” makes it hard for me to recommend unreservedly!