Comic Scope: Street Fighter #100

UDON Entertainment’s Street Fighter comic once taught me a harsh reality about variant covers: they can be very expensive! I’d asked my local comic shop to pull me a copy of each issue, but I wanted the covers done by legendary artist Jo Chen and had no clue they were retailer incentives. They cost a pretty penny at the time but it was worth it for the very fun stories and gorgeous artwork inside.

The Street Fighter video game series was first adapted by UDON into a comic book back in 2003. What a heady time that was for the studio, pulling in a murderers row of talented artists to bring the stories of Chun-Li, Ryu, and Guile to life in a way that had never been seen before by Western readers. Sure, there had been Street Fighter comic book adaptations and manga before, but it was either of dubious quality or not widely available outside of Japan up to that point. UDON’s Street Fighter sought to bring the colorful cast of characters and their large, intricate story lines to the next level. A goal that the publisher has undeniably succeeded at.

With Street Fighter #100, UDON has taken a page from Marvel’s book and looked at the cumulative total of all the Street Fighter comics it has published over the past 17 years in order to claim this centennial landmark. In brief, the way UDON has traditionally handled its Street Fighter comics is to produce a range of limited series. There have been adaptation of Street Fighter, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter V, and so on, as well as miniseries dedicated to individual characters such as the Street Fighter Legends lineup. Yet, despite having all these separate series over the years, there’s always been an overarching narrative tying the books together.

In Street Fighter #100, writer Ken Siu-Cheong and artist Panzer work to put a period on what has come before while also propelling the franchise forward for what will hopefully be at least another hundred issues of comics. Siu-Choeng has been there since the beginning, guiding every mainline series and even some of the minis. Having him here for this milestone is great, as his voice for the characters is so defined and fluid at this point. Siu-Cheong knows how to draw out the best in characters that don’t have nearly as much room for substance in the games they’re pulled from.

Without getting into spoilers, SF #100 sees the larger Street Fighter cast come together for an event that isn’t a fighting tournament. It pays homage to the extended world-building that has led up to this moment, offering longtime readers a chance to reflect on just has much has transpired in all of these characters’ lives for almost 20 years now. From Ken getting married and having a kid to Ryu’s internal battle with the corrupting power of the Satsui No Hado, a lot of powerful moments throughout the series’ long history are touched upon.

Being an UDON Street Fighter comic means the art is top notch, and Panzer doesn’t disappoint in that regard. I can sum up my reaction to his work this issue with one word: damn. The book is gorgeous. Keep in mind, this was originally meant to be part of the slate of Free Comic Book Day 2020 offerings, but with the pandemic upon us all those plans were uprooted. Thankfully, fans can finally see how all of UDON’s hard work has paid off. UDON pulled all the stops out to make sure this anniversary could be celebrated by as many fans as possible and it looks every bit the part of the superstar spectacle it is meant to be.

Panzer’s style has a lot of the kinetic energy and flow typical of manga, but his bold use of color amps the visual feast up to another level. UDON has always done a fine job of finding artists who can maintain the look and feel of the games while simultaneously putting their own stamp on the characters and locales. Panzer’s version of these characters oozes energy and power on every panel. The signature attacks of Ryu and Chun-Li are just the icing on the cake of all this wonderfully choreographed brawling.

At the end of the issue there’s a gallery of past and present UDON artists’ favorite works. Hearing their thoughts and seeing some real classic art hammers home just what a feat Street Fighter #100 is. I sincerely hope that Siu-Cheong isn’t done with the Street Fighter universe just yet. I’d especially love to see him tackle another full series with Panzer behind the wheel delivering his brilliant art. Do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy of Street Fighter #100 when it is officially released on August 19. If you’re interested, not only can you get your hands on that book, but UDON has the entirety of the Street Fighter comic book series available in a variety of different collections that you can check out here.

With that said—happy birthday, UDON Street Fighter! Here’s to hopefully many, many more returns.

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