Games-to-Comic Review: Streetfighter Legends Ibuki #1

My Life as a Schoolgirl Ninja…

The first issue of Streetfighter Legends: Ibuki from Udon Comics came out last month, so this is a bit late, but what the heck.

Streetfighter Legends: Ibuki is the latest in Udon’s line of mini-series that have so far starred female fighters from Capcom’s flagship fighter (the previous being Chun-li and Sakura). While the teenage ninja may not have starred in as many games as the two other Legendary Heroines, she is arguably the most popular character (female or not) in the SF3 games. Her design is refreshingly unique in how she’s a break from the usual mold when you mention ‘Ninja Girl’. Instead of being a scantily-clad temptress, Ibuki is dressed up in more conventional ninja attire, consisting of a battle-worn ninja gi, baggy pants and the ubiquitous martial-arts bandage wraps so popular in Capcom fighting games.

Even under the ninja outfit though, she’s definitely got star quality. She’s got the hot ninja acrobatics and high kicks down pat, and artist Omar Dogan renders her pretty face with big, beautiful manga-esque eyes that brim with emotion even if half her face is concealed in a mask.
Ibuki’s story should be well-known to any SF fan; she yearns for a normal life even as she has to live the abnormal fare of a ninja warrior-to-be. Cellphones, carefree school life, malling… all these are things that Ibuki wants to have. But all too often she also gets things par for the course for her vocation- like ambushes from rival ninja assassins and getting challenged to a duel by hot-headed fighters!

In the first issue we are introduced to Ibuki’s enemies- the Geki Ninja, before being shown her nearest and dearest- her ninja comrades in her home- The Glade of Ninja– which includes the strapping young male co-pupil, her somewhat strict sensei and her girl buddy Sarai. We find out that Ibuki’s just raring to become a full ninja so she can be her own girl, out in the real world. For now though, she’s on a short leash so to speak, but that doesn’t mean she’s leading a sheltered life. A quickie good deed leads to her being challenged to a fight by the newly-transferred and apparently battle-hungry Makoto (also from the SF3 game). But sadly we’re not treated to a ninjitsu vs karate battle, as a Geki ninja ambushes Ibuki leading to a sudden rescue from an unknown new shinobi. As the issue ends we find out that another SF3 hottie- African kickfighting princess Elena– will be joining the fracas.

What can I say? On the bright side, the brightly-colored art is attractive, clean and pleasant to look at, with manga-esque characters and panels from artist Omar Dogan. The writing by Jim Zubkavich is to the point and at the very least does the job of portraying these otherwise so far 2D (literally and figuratively) characters as fans would expect (although perhaps Makoto is written much too over the top, perhaps).

The down side is pretty much the simple fact that there just isn’t enough to this comic. It does what it needs to- introduce Ibuki and the characters around her, and the bare-bones story with some scant action, and that’s it. I guess it’s a limitation to the size of the issue, but there’s painfully little action or fighting, even if this IS a fighting game-based title. What I would have wanted to see was a fight between Ibuki and Makoto, but sadly it never happens.
Which brings me to the simple fact that this comic once again makes that mistake of trying to fit in too many characters in just so few pages. Why was there a need to have to fit in the Geki ninja as antagonists, and add in another mysterious ninja (who isn’t in any SF canon anyway, so he does not matter), when we can already have more than enough story and conflict just with Ibuki and Makoto. If the comic had concentrated on their brewing rivalry maybe we could have had a decent fight, and at least made a good basis for their inevitable friendship/friendly rivalry, which you can see coming miles away. But nope, we get a fast-forwarded all-too-short romp which really can’t ever get as deep or as involved as we could have wanted.

If this was done by a real manga artist and writer, it probably would have been funnier or have more physical stunts, and at cooler action (and probably more of it). But this is pretty much yet another SF done by Udon, which isn’t bad by any measure… just not as great as it could be.

That all said, I can’t hate or resent this ’cause… man, there’s probably no other comic that features my favorite SF3 babes to be found anywhere else. Against one such as I- a fan of the character and the series- the comic wins the victory by default. I can’t help but like this and love it whatever. What else is there but to await issue 2, which is due at the end of the month (alongside the release of SSFIV!). Then again, I could always just make an Ibuki and Makoto fan manga project…. nah.


One Response to “Games-to-Comic Review: Streetfighter Legends Ibuki #1”

  1. I actually did an exclusive interview interview with the Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki writer Jim Zubkavich. Check it out. We talk about the Ibuki series and where the Street Fighter comics may go in the future.

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