Thursday, October 06, 2005


Honestly, I Bought It For A Quarter Week continues with a look at a Truly Awful Comic Book.

This is going to be a short post. There are three reasons why:

1) I watched Ong Bak last night. After that beautiful symphony of knee-strikes and elbow slams, any martial arts material is going to seem weak by comparison – particularly a comic book.

2) This comic book is so awful that writing a long post about it merely prolongs its existence in our collective pop cultural landscape. Talking about it is like watering an ugly, ugly flower.

3) I went to bed late. Then two raccoons got in a fight outside last night, and I had a hard time getting back to sleep after that. Have you ever heard raccoons fight? They fight to the death, man. It sounded like somebody was butchering a tauntaun outside my bedroom window. I broke it up, and the little fuckers scrambled up some fir trees, but I could hear them talking shit to each other in their native tongue – Hamburglar - for an hour after the fight.

So anyway, short post.

Has there ever been a comic book adaptation of a film that was actually better than the film itself? You would think that an adaptation of Street Fighter, that shittiest of movies, that sad coda to Raul Julia’s career, would have a chance at surpassing the source material in terms of quality – but you’d be wrong. Impossibly, this comic suffers in comparison with the film.

It’s got to be tough, writing and drawing a comic based on a movie. I should do a whole week on comic books based on movies – God knows I have enough of the damn things. I don’t envy anyone who has to put together a movie adaptation – it sounds like joyless drudge work to me.

Having said that, this comic sucks. It tries to pack all the witty dialogue and plot points of Street Fighter: The Motion Picture, which has a pretty big cast and a storyline that is more complicated than the original source material, the Street Fighter video game. So let’s see: this is a comic produced in 1995, adapting a Jean Claude Van Damme film, which was in turn based on a video game.

How could it not suck?

The art – oh, Christ help me, the art. Everyone in this comic book looks like they’re taking a shit, or they’ve been dosed with Smilex*, or they’re turning into hideous Dr. Moreau pig-men. I’m not an expert, but I think the goal in movie adaptations is to have the characters actually resemble the actors in the film. Unless there was another Street Fighter movie made with ugly Muppets, I’d say the artist failed bitterly in that regard.

Who wrote this thing? Who was the artist? Does it matter? I don’t want to beat anybody up here – I just want to get a few cheap gags in. It is the way of my people.

Anyway, the art. Here’s General Bison, who was portrayed in the film by the fine actor Raul Julia. I don’t remember any scenes in the movie where Raul Julia passes a kidney stone, but then I think I saw the edited-for-TV version on TBS:

And here are two really ugly guys looking surprised or aroused or something. What is up with the guy on the left’s neck? I’m hoping that’s a coloring mistake and he’s supposed to be wearing a scarf or something, because that is one freaky-ass neck he’s got there:

Next up, here’s um, Howie Long? I think maybe this is supposed to be Jean Claude, the Muscles from Brussels, but I only know that because I read the comic:

Yeah, hey what about the purity of unarmed combat? And saying "ma'am" and "sir" when addressing your elders?

Here we have a Gallery of Grimaces, Street Fighter style. The artist on this comic has the unique talent of making the same character look different from panel to panel. Here are three images of Jean Claude Van Damme’s character, Guile:

Okay, I’m just messing around. The guy in the middle is No-Eyed Pig Man, not Jean Claude.

I’m fading fast; let’s wrap this up with another quality panel of Raul Julia:

This comic book is so bad that I want to burn it, but I’m afraid that the toxic smoke from the fire will ruin a sunset or poison something beautiful, like a butterfly. There should be a special airless chamber at the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste disposal site where comics this bad can be safely interred until we find a way to dispose of them.

Street Fighter: so bad it gets a special Blindfolded Pain Award.

Hey, that was a longer post than I thought! Take that, you fucking raccoons!

* I think I may have used the Smilex joke before. Sorry.


Shon Richards said...

With art like that, I am dying to see what Cami or Chun Li looked like.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, the book was drawn by Nick Napolitano, who earlier that year had drawn another video game tie-in, Vortex, for the Electro Brian SNES title. I got it as a freebie and held onto it for years, amazed at its badness and the fact that I never say the game anywhere.

Napolitano works as a letterer for DC these days.

Street Fighter the movie is truly awesome in its "What the hell were they thinking?" badness. It's like the writer/director, Steven DeSouza, was picking up signals from another planet. The only nice thing about it is it's got Ming Na as Chun Li, but she's actually hotter now than she was 11 years ago.

Van Damme has a line that I had to rewind the movie three times to understand properly: "I aaaaam darepomannn. An Yew Awr da biznizzz!"

Raul Julia was clearly very sick too (IIRC, he died of AIDS a few months before the film's release). It's really depressing to watch him ham it up, but he, unlike the other actors, at least knows he's in a piece of crap and adjusts accordingly.

I don't think DeSouza has directed a film since.

Anonymous said...

Raúl Juliá did not died from AIDS, he was diagnosed from cancer and a year later suffered a stroke and fell into a coma.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I guess I was wrong. I had heard that cancer was actually a cover story.

A few more words about movie adaptations: The Jones/Garcia Daredevil actually made more sense than the movie, since it had the Coolio subplot that leads to the arrest of the Kingpin (it's restored in the director's cut).

The Macchio/Sienkewicz Dune is pretty boss, I thought.

The Roy Thomas/Howard Chaykin Star Wars I read recently, and I thought it was rather crappy. "Lo, the Moons of Yavin!" Uh, okay.

I've heard good things about the Veitch/Bissette 1941 and the Goodwin/Simonson Alien, both of which are sadly out of print.

In 1991 Gregory Wright and Klaus Janson did a wonky Terminator 2, which had a very fat Arnold.

Anyone else own any adaptations?

Edward Liu said...

Steven DeSouza is due to direct again soon, it seems, but in the meantime he was writing movies, like Judge Dredd and the 2nd Tomb Raider movie.

It also looks like he was a producer for the kind of short-lived "Cadillacs & Dinosaurs" cartoon that was at least a decent try and didn't dumb down the material too much for the kidsels.

Maybe we can get him to direct a superhero film written by Sam Hamm and Akiva Goldsman so it'll be the crappiest craptacular crapfest of crappy crap EVAR!!

David Campbell said...

You know, the Spider-Man 2 adaption was okay - it had Aland Davis art, which is never bad.

Anonymous said...

I've never quite understood the appeal of comic book movie adaptations in the first place. Why would I want to read a comic book adaptation of something I could just see in theaters or on video, and have it almost certainly work better in its original medium?

That said, the Denny O'Neil comic book adaptation of the first Tim Burton Batman movie was pretty alright, and I totally loved the Star Wars adaptations that were released around the time of the special editions. I think they were new adaptations and not reprints of the 70's Marvel series, but I'm not too certain on that one. The adaptations of the Timm Batman films, like Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, tended to be pretty OK too.

By the way, don't let this bad Street Fighter comic book dissuade you from picking up the supremely awesome UDON series, soon to be relaunched as Street Fighter II. It's the antidote to the modern-day comic blues: plenty of brutal and beatifully-done fights, unpretentious plotting, plenty of goofy moments and more than little Boob War. It's a blast.

Anonymous said...

The Smilex (or is it Smylex?) gag was awesome.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Ong Bak has some great martial arts.

Anonymous said...

Oh, hell yes: Ong Bak

Anonymous said...

I was talking to the artist who did the Batman Begins adaptation for DC at San Diego this year. He talked about what a pain it was because every page had to be sent to the actors for approval and if they didn't like the way they were drawn, he had to redraw it. Apparently Morgan Freeman was particularly nit-picky.

So, I'm guessing Raul Julia and Jean-Claude Van Damme didn't have such clauses in their contracts.

Also, this movie always makes me sad because it was Raul Julia's last film. He did it because his kids were fans of the game and thought it would be cool for their dad to be M. Bison. Now, this is what they have to remember him. "Wow... we soiled our father's career forever..."

Edward Liu said...

"Apparently Morgan Freeman was particularly nit-picky."

Yeah, what a pain! Who cares if Lucius Fox got turned into a young, blond, white teenaged girl with big boobs and a navel ring named "Luscious Fox" in the movie adaptation anyway? Damn actors.

The question is, did they submit their criticisms IN CHARACTER?

Edward Liu said...

The girl's name was "Luscious Fox."

Not the navel ring.

Damn nit-pickers.

thekelvingreen said...

We don't have raccoons in my native land, so the first time I heard them fighting over the bins out back, it was quite strange. They are loud little buggers.

That's funny about Morgan Freeman, as he was prominently featured as a Judge in a Judge Dredd story last year, presumably without any approval whatsoever.

Somewhere I have the Masters of the Universe film adaptation. In an interesting move, it's only the new characters introduced in the film (and Beastman) that are done in the movie style; He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Skeletor and the rest of the gang are all drawn to resemble the animated versions. Seeing the normally-ineffectual cartoon Skeletor actually winning and subjugating humanity is quite unsettling in a way that the film tried but failed to put across. Gwildor is still moronic though.

Anyone remember the creative team on that? It had generic 80's Marvel art, as I remember.

Marionette said...

Has there ever been a comic book adaptation of a film that was actually better than the film itself?

Mike Kaluta's adaptation of the Shadow movie. Somehow it manages to remain true to the movie story and yet make it not suck.

Winterteeth said...

First off, did anyone catch that Charlie's dad made Smilex brand toothpaste in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? I thought that was a neat nod to his earlier work from Burton.

I agree on the original Batman adaptation, a pretty good read.

I cannot recall the creative teams but some standout adaptations are Robocop (it was black and white and I read that about 90 times the year I bought it), Blade Runner (from Marvel, but I forget which ending they went with) and the Dark Crystal comics somehow managed to freak me out more than the movie. Good work scarring me there, Henson.

As an aside, Frank Miller and Walt Simonson's Robocop vs. Terminator mini was awesome. Just had to be said.

Tycho B. said...

My worship of Arthur C. Clarke began with the Marvel comics 2001 movie adaptation, which at 8 years old I thought was cool as shit.

I made the mistake of giving it back to the friend I borrowed it from. I guess I could have told him it was eaten by raccoons.

thekelvingreen said...

The running theme seems to be that if Simonson does the adaptation, it's good stuff.

Anonymous said...

"The Roy Thomas/Howard Chaykin Star Wars I read recently, and I thought it was rather crappy. "Lo, the Moons of Yavin!" Uh, okay."

Well, yeah, but I still have a soft spot for that one because it's like the only place you can see what the deleted scenes look like :)


Anonymous said...

The Marvel Buckaroo Banzai SHOULD have been the greatest movie adaption of all time, but not because of the adaptation...because it said there were going to be further adventures. How dare they raised my hopes like that. Go Moonstone!

Topps' Dracula was pretty good, and their X-Files adaptations were hit or miss....some of them were VERY good.

I treasure my Dell Doctor Who and the it framed on my wall.

And then there's Last Starfighter, which was too unairwolfery for words.

Winterteeth said...

Now, on Capitol Records, for a limited time...The Original Cast recording of Street Fighter: The Musical. Hear "Balrog's Lament" and "You Can Take That To The Blanka" in stereo quality, high-fidelity sound.

Who can forget where they were when they first heard "Shuriken: Love Theme of Ken and Ryu" ? Now, invite your ears on holiday and let your tympanic membrane escape to a world of pure pleasure as you play the Beach Boys-inspired "Little E. Honda" as well as "Say You, Say Me...Chun Li" in the privacy of your own home.

Act now and get Al Jolsen's rendition of "Cammy" on 8 track. Supplies won't last, so order now.

Zangief says, "Look for the CD with me on the cover!"

thekelvingreen said...

"Love Theme of Ken and Ryu"


Anonymous said...

Aw, come on, any movie that featured a John Wayne Gacy clown portrait of General Guile can't be all bad. It's the perfect movie for TBS to show at 2:00 am.

I heard the "Cancer as AIDS cover story" fable about Graham Chapman, and I called bullshit on it then too.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you can get the Atari folks to let you bury Street Fighter in their E.T. cartridge landfill.

Chris Sims said...

Admittedly, I haven't read it since I was a kid, but I remember really liking the Rocketeer adaptation.

Twelve Year Old Chris really dug the Bettie Page scene.

Winterteeth said...

And the Legendary Chris Sims of Heroes and Dragons joins us! From a former customer and fan, a tip of the hat to you, sir.

J said...

That first Bison picture is actually a photograph of noted right-winger Charles Krauthammer (who has a pretty awesome comic book name in his own right), isn't it?

Ken said...

The art looks like somebody trying to do a combination of Ditko, Herb Trimpe, and something really awful. Like worse than Mark Badger awful.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading the Marvel Star Wars reprit tombs from Marvel and, well, the Thomas/Chaykin Star Wars adaptation is pretty bad. Now the Goodwin/Williamson Empire Strikes Back adaptation... that's pure gold. I havn't gotten to the volume with Jedi yet.

I used to love love love comic book adaptations as a kid. The 1990 Total Recall adaptation (with art by Tom Lyle... talk about pig noses!)was a favourite. I didn't actually see the film until 2001.

And the Rocketeer one was pretty damn smooth.

Tycho B. said...

Bad news, Graig. Marvel's JEDI adaptation isn't included in the Dark Horse reprints, because it wasn't part of the ongoing STAR WARS comic series, but was published as a separate mini-series. If you want the Jedi, you've got to hunt down the issues on eBay.

Anonymous said...

Ah damnit!
Thanks for the info Tycho. The only volume of the Dark Horse reprints I don't have it the one that *should* have the Jedi adaptation (and so far I've bought all these "$30" volumes for under $10 each.)

I think I have the first Dark Horse reprints of the adaptations from when the Special Editions came out in '97

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, Dark Horse reprinted Jedi at least three times that I can in a two-issue prestige format series, one collection at the time the movie rereleases came out (with a Yoda-face cover from the poster art) and one more when the special edition came out (Leia's face on the cover with a Rancor scene underneath)

Angry Android said...

Mad props to the Topps' Dracula comics adaptation (done by Mike Mignolia), but I gotta say one of the best adaptations of a movie has to be Art Adam's verision of "Creature From the Black Lagoon."

Ong Bak was pretty Airwolf. I bet he could take out a team of racoons.

Anonymous said...

That picture of chicken Charles Krauthammer with a beer can up his ass will haunt me for the rest of my life. But at least it replaced this post in my headspace.

Anonymous said...

Holy Hannah, I forgot Mignola did that Dracula adaptation. The art was incredibly Airwolf.

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