Given the amount of crossovers both the "Street Fighter" and "G.I. Joe" franchises have been involved in -- "X-Men vs. Street Fighter," "Transformers vs. G.I. Joe" -- this collision in IDW Publishing's "Street Fighter X G.I. Joe" miniseries was fairly inevitable. Heck, Hasbro even teased such a conflict back in 1993 by releasing a series of "Street Fighter" action figures as part of the "G.I. Joe" line.
The six-issue "Street Fighter X G.I. Joe" miniseries takes the format of a 16-character World Warrior tournament, from the creative team of writer Aubrey Sitterson and artist Emilio Laiso. CBR News spoke with Sitterson -- someone who, between his experience as a comics writer and editor and the host of the "Straight Shoot" pro wrestling podcast, has spent a lot of time thinking about over-the-top fighting -- for a tale of the tape on the opening round "Street Fighter X G.I. Joe" bouts, along with some insight into his approach to delivering effective combat in the comics medium. Plus, an exclusive first look at new interior pages from issue #1, illustrated by Laiso.
CBR News: Aubrey, for as big of a part of mainstream comics as fight scenes typically are, it feels like it's hard to make them truly memorable. You're writing a series driven by fight scenes -- how have you approached that? What kind of research goes into this?
Aubrey Sitterson: There are two things that prevent comic book fight scenes [from succeeding], typically -- and don't get me wrong, there are people who do it really, really well out there. The difficulty, I think, comes from two things -- one is executional, and one is more inherent to the medium.
The executional thing is, too often people see fight scenes as really just eye candy. It's the big splash that you're going to have -- somebody punches somebody else, a spread of a superpowered person shooting energy blasts. The thing that's actually built into the medium that makes it difficult is, there's no motion in comics -- obviously. Even in something as brutal and violent as combat and fighting, a big part of the appeal is the beauty of motion. There's something beautiful about the motions that people go through to do it; whether it's very ornate, single-shot old kung fu movies or quick-cut, modern action movies. There's an elegance there that you can't get with single images.
It makes the task even more difficult, because you have to choose the exact right shots, and the exact right moment to highlight. For research, I have spent an inordinate amount of time on YouTube. [Laughs] It's a lot of work, it's a lot of time, but it's stuff that I like -- I'm a big fan of wrestling, and kung fu movies, and fight scenes in comics. The whole raison d'etre of this series is combat and fighting. If I'm going to do a book that's all about combat and fighting, I want to do the best book about combat and fighting.
Of course, you have to have the right artist to pull all of that off. How has working with Emilio Laiso been on this series?
Emilio's fantastic. As we've worked together, I've been really impressed by his ability to do two things that are super-important: One is facial expressions. Like me, you're a big wrestling fan. You know it's one thing to go out and do the moves, but you have to emote, also. The actions taking place in the ring don't have any real weight if the audience doesn't feel what the competitor is feeling -- whether that's arrogance, pain, anger, whatever. They need to emote. That's one of the things he's fantastic at.
The other thing that he's great at is the actual physical character acting. It's just constant, constant action back and forth in the comic. It's clear when you read an Emilio Laiso page that he understands what's going on in the gutters. Which is crucial, because that's the most important part of a comic book -- that's the part the reader fills in. You give them these moments, in order to help them imagine what happens in between. Emilio clearly has such an exquisite understanding of what's going on in each gutter of each page, that it comes through to the actual shot choices he's made for the individual panels. It's really phenomenal stuff.
Street Fighters vs. G.I. Joes seems like tricky bouts to make competitive because on one hand, you have Street Fighters like Ryu who can shoot fireballs. Then you have the "G.I. Joe" characters, who are often heavily armed by nature. How do you work out that balance, while also bringing some degree of real-world martial arts into it?
It's a tricky thing. On one hand, it's a martial arts tournament -- we're fighting each other with fists and elbows, headbutts and knees. But as you noted, Ryu can shoot energy blasts at people. Guile can throw sonic booms. Crimson Viper has a battlesuit. We're playing a little fast and loose with the rules, because we need to. It's not exactly '90s WCW with Bill Watts rules about open fists, right? [Laughs]
Capcom has a long tradition of playing fast and loose with rules in a fighting game; especially when you broaden your focus to not just "Street Fighter" but "Marvel vs. Capcom" and things like that. Not only do they have guns, knives and special abilities, they also call in their pals! Their pals jump in and hit somebody, too. We're playing more than a little fast and loose with that. I think it's important, because of the appeal of all these characters is built around all the crazy stuff they can do. I am not shying away from any of that.
All right, let's talk the opening round of this tournament.
Rufus vs. The Baroness
Right off the bat, this a major contrast, both physically and in terms of the characters' stature within their respective franchise -- one of the top G.I. Joe villains and a newer, comic relief Street Fighter character. How much of that was the fun in putting these first round matches together?
I absolutely made an effort to have drastically different fighters face one another. It's always interesting to think about similar talents going head-to-head, but for me, whether it's professional wrestling, a kung fu movie or even an MMA match, the most entertaining fights tend to feature a clash of styles, much like the early UFC events would have a boxer square off against a grappler, a wrestler fight a kickboxer, etc. So, if I've got a tournament with a self-taught, rather rotund kung fu practitioner and a deadly femme fatale… you better believe I'm going to pit them up against one another.
Coming into this match, the most interesting thing to watch will be how someone as goofy as Rufus will bounce off a character as serious and confident as The Baroness who, in my eyes, is kind of the ultimate straightwoman.
Crimson Viper vs. Snake Eyes
Snake Eyes has to be as much of a favorite as there can be in something like this. For the Crimson Viper superfans out there (and I'm sure they are out there), do they have reason to hold out hope for an upset?
Clearly this is going to be an uphill battle for Crimson Viper. Snake Eyes, in addition to being one of the most popular G.I. Joe characters, has also been built up to be about as close as that franchise has to a superhuman. That being said, while Snake Eyes has amazing martial arts abilities and an arsenal of blades and guns, he's used to either sneaking through the shadows or fighting on a chaotic battlefield, not going head-to-head with a single opponent. I wouldn't discount Crimson Viper just yet, especially seeing as she not only has prior experience in the World Warrior Tournament, but also boasts a SIN-designed high-tech battlesuit.
Hakan vs. Roadblock
Roadblock is almost always shooting a giant gun. Unarmed, does he stand a chance against the unconventional might of Turkish oil wrestling?
If you ask Hakan, no one stands a chance against the exquisite art of yağlı güreş, whether armed or not. I'll say this about Roadblock though: While he's best known for fighting with a giant gun, you have to remember that the particular gun he uses is a M2 Browning machine gun. Fully loaded, those things weight more than 100 pounds, with crazy recoil, and normally require a group of soldiers to just carry it around, much less fire it. Roadblock is a big, massive, powerful dude, so with or without a gun, he's strong enough to do some serious damage if he gets those big soup bones on you.
Ryu vs. Jinx
While a lot of these are deliberate mismatches, these two characters clearly have stylistic similarities. But as noted, Ryu has the ability to shoot fireballs. Did Jinx's Arashikage training involve dodging Hadokens?
Knives, shurikens, even bullets, sure. But Hadokens? Seems kind of unlikely. But would that really be all that insurmountable of a challenge for Jinx? We're talking about someone who was not only trained in the Arashikage style, but is an actual member of the Arashikage family! She's Storm Shadow's cousin and was trained by not only the Blind Master but Snake Eyes himself. I would think she'd enjoy much the same tactical advantages as her cousin and master do.
M. Bison vs. Cammy
This is a pretty classic match-up between two high-profile Street Fighters. In the games, the two have a lot of history -- how much does that play into your story?
Whenever you are dealing with established characters, it's always a difficult line to walk: You always want to use continuity to develop your story and provide depth, but you never want to the story to work in service of continuity, when it should be the other way around. All of the characters in "Street Fighter x G.I. Joe" are classic and idealized versions of themselves, which is to say that I'm keeping what makes them special and interesting, but in a way that doesn't require any advance knowledge of who they are or what they do.
That being said... Cammy has some serious, serious beef with Bison.
Storm Shadow vs. Croc Master
One major question here: Are crocodiles tournament legal? If so, sounds like Storm Shadow's in trouble.
To the best of my knowledge, crocodiles have never been allowed within the confines of a World Warrior Tournament. But, then again, there's never been a World Warrior Tournament that's been sponsored by Destro's M.A.R.S. Industries either. Also, for what it's worth, I very much believe in the validity of the dramatic principle known as Chekhov's Crocodile.
Also, fun fact: Croc Master grew up wrestling alligators, but now trains and commands crocodiles. I've always been fascinated as to why he made the switch. Were caimáns ever considered?
Dan vs. Chun-Li
It's easy to laugh Dan off. But is he poised to play spoiler in this tournament? Should Chun-Li be concerned?
Dan is a fascinating character to me for a lot of reasons, but one of the most interesting is how he's developed over the years. While he was initially just a joke character -- a snipe at the rival "King of Fighters" series and a way for your friend who is way too good at Street Fighter to make you feel even worse about your meager skills – he's steadily evolved into a much more formidable competitor. While he certainly isn't as big a threat as say, Ryu, he's consistently improved to the point where he could possibly be somewhat underrated, which might very well be his biggest strength.
Gung-Ho vs. Guile
This feels like the main event of the first round -- two big name characters, seemingly very evenly matched. Also two big, beefy dudes. Is this the "Street Fighter X G.I. Joe" version of Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg, except without all the baggage and angry fans of Wrestlemania 20?
I can't tell you how disappointed I am that I couldn't get approval to have Stone Cold come out and stun both Guile and Gung-Ho at the end of this match. C'est la vie. While the two characters might seem similar on the surface, there are actually some significant differences. Gung-Ho is a Marine, while Guile is an Airman. Gung-Ho an enlisted man while Guile is an officer. But as fascinating as all that stuff is, you already hit the nail on the head in regards to this match's appeal: Two big, beefy dudes fighting one another. It's all anyone ever really wants.
"Street Fighter X GI Joe" #1 is scheduled for release from IDW Publishing on Feb. 24.