Classic worlds clash–is it a spectacle worth watching?
The Street Fighter series is no stranger to crossovers; be it with other fighting franchises, the world of classic anime in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, or the realm of comics books through the X-Men and Marvel Versus series. Comparatively, the G.I. Joe property has also crossed paths with others over the years–most notably and repeatedly the Transformers, and a few others since finding its current home with IDW.
Now, at the conclusion of IDW’s 6-issue limited series, you can read the complete comics crossover event that links these two universes together: Street Fighter X G.I. Joe, released on October 12 to comic and book retailers. On some levels, the ’80s and ’90s nostalgia of these two properties blends well–they’ve met before. But I’m admittedly (and unsurprisingly) a much bigger fan of the Street Fighter material involved here, while I still share the familiarity with G.I. Joe that comes with being a child of the 1980s. So, Street Fighter fans: is it worth your time and money? Spoilers follow!
M. Bison, now named as dictator of fictional nation of “Mriganka” has formed an alliance with the terrorist organization Cobra–specifically arms dealer Destro–to implement a portable, wearable Psycho Drive. To charge up said prototype, naturally a Street Fighter tournament is in order: in which the various characters from the worlds of both Street Fighter and G.I. Joe gather to face off, with their own ulterior plans and motives, of course.
The comic jumps right into the tournament in-progress, and focuses–to its benefit–on all-out action rather than the intrigue driving it. It’s worth noting that the “Street Fighter” material here is definitely more influenced by the Super Street Fighter IV setting: with C. Viper, Rufus, and Hakan featuring very prominently alongside the Street Fighter II classic characters. In an event like this, it’s natural that not all characters can be given the spotlight, on either side–so there’s a fair chance that your favorite Joe, Cobra agent or Street Fighter didn’t make the cut. Notable absences on the SF side include Sagat (or any of the Heavenly Kings, actually), Zangief, Juri, Ken (!), and the entirety of the Street Fighter III cast.
The comic follows a match-by-match format, until that naturally breaks down as best-laid plans go awry. I hate to admit that the Street Fighter comics from UDON have set a sort of “precedent” for me, certain expectations as to what a SF comic “feels” like–and this is not that. The writing and dialogue (by Aubrey Sitterson) is much better suited to the G.I. Joe tone, and while the SF characters are generally still on point, the feel is still quite different. Not bad, but different to be sure. Rufus features very prominently, and his–and Candy’s–antics do provide a few laughs to lighten the tone, which leans hard into an action-movie type of vibe.
Arguably, it moves too fast to provide much of a storyline, but the fight sequences–which is pretty much all we’re here for–are definitely a fun time: we get to see Rufus take on the Joe’s resident ninja Snake Eyes; Chun-Li taken off-guard by Zartan, disguised as Dan; Guile shoulder-drops a crocodile; and Jinx, apparently trained by Ryu, unleashing the Satsui no Hado. Oh, and Psycho Rufus: an enraged Rufus fueled by out-of-control Psycho Power. That is a thing that happens here, and it’s pretty amusing, actually.
The artwork by Emilio Laiso and Andrea Di Vito is definitely up to the task–while again not a look that lines up with what UDON’s artists make of the Street Fighter world and characters, it suits this book well and there’s some excellent panels and splash pages worthy of both franchises.
There are a few extras included in this collection: character profiles for the most prominently-involved Street Fighters in the book–certainly an aid to those readers more familiar with the G.I. Joe side of this adventure; a recap of the “off-camera” matches that preceded the comic (to explain away the absences of some favorite characters); and a wealth of excellent cover art, including a great retro pixel-art 2-page spread by Matt Waite.
Is it worth a read?
In conclusion: yes, but I can’t say it’s my favorite Street Fighter comic by any stretch. I have enjoyed UDON’s work and the assorted available SF-related manga much more. I venture that this is a comic that will appeal more to readers that follow G.I. Joe regularly, and have a passing interest in Street Fighter–rather than the other way around. It still does offer something for fans of either franchise, though–and, Psycho Rufus. Seriously.
Street Fighter X G.I. Joe
Written by Aubrey Sitterson, art by Emilio Laiso & Andrea Di Vito
Published by IDW, ISBN-13: 978-1631407444
Trade Paperback, $19.99 USD
Available now; multiple covers available.
Additional source: Comics Alliance
[Editor’s note: IDW did not provide Shoryuken with our review copy.]