Malibu Comics had all the quality control and undeserved tragedy of a child sweatshop but without the child part or the undeserved part. If you used gestures and crude pictograms to describe a good comic book to a Sentinel Island native who knew nothing of the modern world, they would kill you with a spear. And when they got back to their village they would describe a Malibu title perfectly, and their whole society would collapse because of your interference. And yet, because we’re talking about the 1990s – when everybody suddenly realized nerds had money, but had no idea how to get it – Malibu managed to get their hands on some major IPs. Capcom actually trusted them with Street Fighter at the peak of its popularity. Here’s the cover of that very first issue:
The art was pretty good for somebody’s nephew’s first try at airbrushing the side of a van, but we’re going to be here all day if we make fun of a Malibu artist’s liberal interpretation of “human face.” Story and character are not a fighting game’s strong suit, so it often falls to the adapter to fill in the blanks, and Malibu has a caulk gun full of their own feces for that purpose. Most of the characters are non-entities, and manage to be inoffensive. Even… awesome?
Balrog is only in this book to do two things: Explode testicles and give Mike Tyson’s lawyers an easy win.
Look at him just CHUDDing Ken’s airborne dick into the stratosphere. I actually have to give that one to you, Malibu: CHUDD is indisputably the sound testicles make as they break the sound barrier. What was Sagat thinking here? Sagat’s entire fighting style is crazy high kicks that expose his dong. If we could jump to Balrog-vision for this panel you’d see a glowing red spot on Sagat’s crotch indicating the weak point.
Zangief also escapes the Malibu treatment. He’s only in the comic for a few pages, and all he does is dominate this weird bearhog monstrosity because that’s how Russians train to do anything. You want to be a Russian pilot? Better learn how to clothesline a bear so hard his testicles explode. Twice.
These are the only intentionally awesome moments in this comic, because Malibu used all the rest of their pages to drive Street Fighter’s characters into the ground like a Russian introducing himself to a fully-testicled bear. Malibu even got particularly brazen in one issue and tried to use Street Fighter’s popularity to boost their own shitty characters… while insulting Street Fighter’s.
The Ferret was a thinly-veiled ripoff of Wolverine, as roughly 97% of all new comic book characters were in the ‘90s. He stands out for looking the dumbest and having the lamest name, as well as a secret identity that could be best described as “Tampa flotsam.” He doesn’t even try to justify his existence in these pages. He meets E. Honda on a plane and then embarrasses them both into a fat joke cut from a Chris Farley sketch for being too disrespectful to other cultures.
Let’s establish a little background: Ryu and Ken are the main characters of the Street Fighter universe – rival fighters from the same school with radically different philosophies. Ryu lives only for the fight, while Ken wants to use fighting to achieve glory. Guile is usually a central character in American adaptations, because he’s an unremarkable white army guy — the official mascot of the western world. Chun Li is usually a central character in any Street Fighter story, too – she just wants to avenge the murder of her father. Got all that in mind? All right, now blow it straight out your ass. Fuck you for even knowing it. Here are those character’s very first appearances in their own comic.
So Ryu is a superpowered MRA now? He’s an incel who figured out how to fire literal blue balls at the women who deny him?
Nah, they’re just playing around.
Ryu isn’t a molester — he’s just the kind of guy who does viral prank videos followed rapidly by viral apology videos, and Chun-Li is an arrogant dangerslut. She won’t put out for a mere slap on the ass, but infuse it with your chi and light it on fire first and she’s a Slip ‘N Slide. That is slightly better than Mystical Karate Rapist and his victim, but it’s weird you set that bar in the first place, Malibu.
There’s no bait and switch with Guile, though. This is his actual introduction:
They didn’t rework his role in the comic. He’s still supposed to be a good guy. And his very first appearance shows him wildly overreacting to an extremely common accident, and then using his superhuman fighting skills to cripple every barfly in sight. Now, passions were surely running high – dude in the hat went from zero to chairstrike in no panels. But the actual offender did nothing. He didn’t even get a chance to apologize before Guile started taking teeth for trophies. And it’s not the drunks that escalate the fight from here — Guile keeps demolishing uncles until the whole bar is trashed and everybody in it has to steer with a straw.
Guile is boring. His whole fighting style is based on squatting and testing his opponent’s patience. Give him Lululemon and a Passatt and he’s the biggest bitch in a Scottsdale yoga class. But he’s still meant to be a hero. The ‘intro with a bar fight’ thing is a cliche way to introduce a tough guy character, but those heroes only defend themselves. They knock out everyone who comes after them and leave a few bills on the counter to cover the damages — they’re so used to being attacked that they have a bar destruction budget. They don’t follow up that barfight by using their superpowers to demolish a small business and then give the owner a concussion.
All of which Guile does.
Guile really brought the war back with him, huh?
There’s no way to spin this that isn’t psychotic.That’s the full interaction – the owner didn’t pull a gun on him, or jump in the fight. He got three lines which he used to ask for reasonable compensation, then ask a superman why his family’s only source of income just exploded, and then describe the sound of his brain bouncing off his skull.
I really have to reiterate: These are the introductions.
I’m not skipping around to show you the worst parts — the first few issues are all just debuting the many characters of Street Fighter and explaining how they’re all insane now. Chun Li thinks safewords are only for first dates, Ryu responds to rejection with fireballs, and Guile thought First Blood was hilarious. Wait, we’re still missing our other main character, Ken Masters.
Let’s see how he’s doing.
Ken gets scalped in the first issue.
I’m not exaggerating.
It is not implied.
Comic books and video games are not just for kids, but remember that this was 1993 when yes, they were. Society sure thought that, anyway. I’m not saying that’s right, I’m just saying that when your dad bought you a comic book because you were extra brave at the dentist you probably didn’t expect to see Ken’s bloody scalp on the last page.
The Malibu Street Fighter comic book adaptation was a lean and mean affair. It only lasted three issues, but Malibu managed to degrade every single character in it like the writers owned stock in World Heroes and were hoping to retire.
So how does this epic saga end? The same way most Malibu comics end: Abruptly, and with a written apology.
Holy shit! They really copped to it!
“… due to complications with Capcom and their dislike of our adaptation of the most popular game in the world, concluding with this issue, Street Fighter the comic book has officially been cancelled. We formally apologize…”
You never see this kind of honesty. Malibu straight up admitted in plain terms that they got almost immediately fired for sucking too hard.
At a video game adaptation.
In the 1990s!
Just for reference, here are the cast from the Street Fighter movie adaptation, who did not get fired by Capcom for sucking too hard:
Say what you will about Malibu — for example, they’re the comic books you find on drugstore shelves in plywood towns built for nuclear bomb testing — but you have to give them some credit for owning this. Any other company, any other anybody would not clarify in the first sentence that they got fired for doing a bad job. The phrase ‘creative differences’ exists solely for this exact scenario. They could have said anything and yet when kids flipped over the last page in issue #3 they saw “hey, sorry we shit the bed here sport, but if it’s any consolation we just got real fired for it.”
And then they go on to explain the rest of their terrible story! That they just got fired for!
Nobody dunks on Malibu like Malibu.
Things to note:
They spelled Chun-Li wrong, in bold, in the header of her section… which consists only of her name. This is not a localization issue: They spelled it correctly in the text below, and all throughout all three of the comics. They just figured “shit, we already got fired — like fuck are we spellchecking our middle finger on the way out.”
They were going to introduce their own Street Fighter, because when you have no idea how to adapt a story you resort to shit like “new characters with an easier narrative” and “evil clones.”
They were going to introduce evil clones.
Ken isn’t actually dead, he’s just bald now. That’s how Malibu thought scalping works, like it’s a rowdy haircut.
I worry intensely about the little section in Ryu’s breakdown where they repeat — three times — that Ryu would definitely, for sure resolve his relationship with Chun-Li. I know Malibu. I know what that means. That means full penetration. Maybe you think that’s hot, but keep in mind they’d hire somebody’s cousin to draw it and it would wind up looking like two trees fighting.
…And then Malibu has the absolute balls to cap it all off by saying you can pay extra for super exclusive Gold Editions of the series! The series so bad they got fired in the middle of an issue and had to end it with a written apology! The apology you’re reading right now! Haha remember? This is still the apology! That’s how the apology ends! By trying to sell you a goldfoil version of the apology!
Those Gold Editions cannot exist. Nobody owns those. Nobody fell for that. If you bought these they were lost at sea when you tried to start your own island. They perished in the fire with you when you tried to deepfry a turkey in the bathtub. 100% of these comics were lost to idiot tragedy.
But listen, if you somehow survived that blaze and have gone mad from the pain, from the rejection and the mockery of your hideous scars, if you have gathered together the sad pieces of your old life and retreated to the storm drains with them and somehow still have the Gold Editions of Malibu’s Street Fighter comic book woven into your shrine of the Above Times, I will buy them off you for two shiny bits of mirror and a photo of a sunset.
Standing offer. I await your carrier rat.
This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme, 3 Finger Louie: Who would like to apologize for this crappy dedication and also offer you the opportunity to buy a gold-foil special edition of this dedication.
18 replies on “Punching Day: Malibu Comics’ Street Fighter – The Comic 🌭”
not read the article yet but every time i get a hot dog email telling me brockway is opining on malibu comics i know its going to be a good day
I dread the day I reach the end of their catalog.
These are possibly my favorite pieces on this site, and that’s saying something considering how much y’all are killing it. Also worth noting: Len Strazewski was a professor of journalism at Columbia College (Chicago) and on the Board of Trustees. His LinkedIn page spells taught as tought.
I hate to break this to you, but Malibu is straight Harvey Dent rules. You either die a reader or you live long enough to become a “writer.” There’s no stopping this train, Brockway. It’s a one way ticket into the soul of Abraxus.
Yup, still as terrible as I remember. Glad you got around to this abomination.
It was always coming!
Much like Chun Li when she’s being assaulted by karate weirdos! Wait, nevermind, you used an “o” there…
Two things I love: I had to read the “apparently they didn’t like our work but here’s a first of its kind epilogue so you can read our grand plan”. Followed by the ending to Super Dodge Ball on the NES. That was their fucking plan. Of course it was.
Amazing read, thank you sir.
They really thought they had something with that ending, they couldn’t even let it drop after getting fired for it. I love them so much.
I feel like Malibu felt it was locked in combat to do more to destroy comics fandom in the 90s than Rob Liefeld. I am not sure who won?
The ultimate unauthorized* Beyoncé tribute performer: Unbeknowncé! Coming to a taproom near you this spring!
* We are legally obligated to make it abundantly clear that, no, really, this is totally unauthorized.
The fact that they actually got the license pulled by Capcom is kind of amazing given what 90s licensees could get away with. I suppose this shows it’s back when comic books were considered vaguely relevant.
Just wait til you see the possibly peak of 90s licensed madness: the Brazilian Mega Man comic. Has to be seen to be believed, at least nowadays there’s unofficial translations. And the wild thing is they didn’t even get the license pulled, it only ended because the publisher went out of business.
Tell me more of this Brazilian Mega Man comic…
Oh boy oh boy oh boy, that particular brand of insane nonsense is something special. I’m not sure where to begin, but with the copious violence, wildly whiplashing tone, plot points and characters coming and going at random (probably didn’t help that the writers were too), gratuitous nudity, random nationalistic rants… it’s a lot like a 00s webcomic but with the actual genuine license, printed on real paper and sold for real money.
You may have to do some research yourself to track it down, but it seems like the kind of trash you’ll enjoy. It’s very 90s in its way, but filtered through the very particular perception of 90s Brazilian anime nerds with a license to write fanfiction.
That bar owner was kinda asking for it.
First he approaches with his hands in the air like he’s trying to frighten off a bear. Then its like… What do you mean “wait, what are you doing?” Did he not see the ba ba booom! Who chases after a man who shouts “Sonic Boom!” As far as the guy in the UCLA sweater goes… I mean – he’s wearing a UCLA sweater. Fuck that guy.
Never have I wished more that I had two pieces of broken mirror and a picture of a sunset:
This has to be cursed, right?
Are we just gonna ignore how, in the middle of Ryu’s Hot’N’Steamy Epilogue, he and Guile “become…partners”? Right in the middle of the text block where he definitely bones down with Chamley or whatever her name is, they throw in a cute ellipse and we’re supposed to assume they’re just bros “if only for a little while”?
They PLANNED the fifth issue titled “Lovers Not Fighters” wherein Ryu has to make a sexy, sexy choice. And that’s how they intended to “resolve” Ryu and Stan-Li’s relationship.
I still have the full run of the Malibu Star Trek: DS9 series, which I actually thought was pretty great. It also ended with all the grace of a Honda butt crunch.