**WARNING: Minor Spoilers ahead.**
Written by Chris Sarracini
Art by Joe Ng
It’s beeen 10 years since UDON took over the Street Fighter/Capcom license for books and hasn’t looked back. Aside from some gorgeous editions of art books for games, the company has also established a continuity in that time that has not only been a success, but a real treat for longtime fans to see these these characters treated with some respect instead of just a cash cow (isn’t that right, Jean Claude?). Building on all of that, the company recently released its 150th title – the original graphic novel Street Fighter Origins: Akuma.
As you can well guess, the story recounts the tale of how one of Street Fighter’s most infamous characters, Akuma, came to be. Seen as a demon among the other characters and players worldwide alike (indeed, the translation of his name is “demon”), Akuma has fast risen from his early days as a hidden character in Super Street Fighter II Turbo to be one of the most feared – and popular – characters in the game. This year’s Evolution Championship Series (the world’s largest fighting game tournament) featured two of the players in the top eight – including second place competitor MCA Tokido – using Akuma as their fighter of choice in the Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition competition. Akuma’s reputation and ability proceed him, but his story has remained unrevealed – until now.
The story could have been lifted straight out of any number of classic Kung-Fu movies – which is perfectly fine. Given the nature of the characters, it would be disappointing if anything else were presented. No clear timeframe is given, which also works to the story’s benefit. It is presented as a “timeless” (albeit somewhat predictable) tale of revenge bringing someone the dark side. The origins of the “Hado” (which is employed by Ryu and Gouken, as well as several other characters in the game and in this book) are somewhat touched upon, as is the “Dark Hado” that Akuma employs.
Writer Chris Sarracini keeps things simple but still manages to work in several references to the series and its history. It may come as no surprise, given how well you know the backstory of the Street Fighter characters, that Street Fighter Origins: Akuma gives origins for more players than just Akuma. Even working all of this in, the tapestry Sarracini weaves is clean and flows very well as an overall narrative. Speaking of clean, the art by Joe Ng suits the tale perfectly. The art of Street Fighter’s UDON books has always had an obvious Japanese influence, but manages not to go over-the-top and still include all of the action of the games. Ng’s work here is no exception, save for possibly the painted look of the book. The total package comes together very well.
Street Fighter Origins: Akuma is a solid chapter in the Street Fighter mythology. Those looking for the backstory of Akuma are well-served here, even if the story is nothing groundbreaking. It is what you would expect it to be, but told rather well. The art is a great compliment to the story, and the overall package is well worth the cover price for Street Fighter fans who are after more than just a competitive match online. Street Fighter Origins: Akuma earns 4 out of 5 Final Tests of Seclusion.
Filed Under: Reviews