That Time Malibu Did Gaming Comics.
(AfroGamers.com) Whenever a fighting is close to release, there is a good chance you’ll see a companion comic as a means of both promoting the game and pushing the storyline. This was especially true during the 1990s since fighting games really didn’t focus on plot.
In ‘90s fighting games, everyone showed up at a tournament, they had a specific reason for wanting to win, and they had at least one rival in the tournament. Oh, and a member of the U.S. special forces or international intelligence entered the tournament as well. You know, because if the organizer of the tournament wasn’t evil from another realm, they were either a crime lord or dictator.
So, let’s look at two fighting game comics of note. They weren’t exactly the best of bunch and this is a very niche subgenre to dive into but these two stood out to me for a particular reason.
Mortal Kombat (Malibu Comics, 1994-1995)
Malibu Comics was around for a while. It came in during the late 1980s and was out by the early 1990s. That’s pretty long for a comic book publisher trying to shake things up. Like Image and the series under its umbrella, it was a very 90s publisher. So, imagine no one’s surprise when Malibu began doing comics for the Mortal Kombat series.
I wasn’t surprised at the time because I was just excited to see video game comics. I mean, Archie Comics’ Sonic the Hedgehog series really raised the bar years earlier. Surely Malibu Comics was up to the challenge! Mind you, this was the mindset of 9 or 10-year old me getting my hands on this and another series in the list in 5th grade.
In short, Malibu didn’t do bad. Looking at it now, the artwork was really good for the time. Then again, I love that 80s-90s art approach in comics and the coloring style that came about during the early 90s. Where they the ball was when parts of the story were changed and romances were forced because romance is necessary in comics even if it’s people in a tournament to the death in an entirely different realm.
Honestly, Image Comics should’ve picked up this title in 1993 or 1994.
Street Fighter (Malibu Comics, 1993)
Yes, a year before they got the license to Mortal Kombat, Malibu did Street Fighter for three whole issues. I distinctly remember reading this in fifth grade but I couldn’t give you my reaction from the time. That is, other than “The art is cool!” and me trying to draw Ken and Ryu from that reference. Storyline-wise, it wasn’t bad. Malibu actually stuck very closely to the source material outside of a romantic angle with Ryu and Chun-Li.
Yes, it’s necessary because everyone asked for it.
Anyway, the series was cut down in the prime of its life because Capcom felt it was garbage and wanted someone else to pick it up. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you which company should’ve started on it but I’m leaning towards Archie or Marvel, who owns Malibu now.
Of course, with manga being big now for over two decades, it doesn’t matter picks it up Stateside. The most likely pick would be Marvel because of it’s game partnership with Capcom but Darkhorse could do an awesome Street Fighter comic.
Why do these two titles stick out to me? Well, I grew up during the time Mortal Kombat was released and Street Fighter hit the U.S. I remember both games being big deals for next couple of years. Also, Malibu Comic closed its doors soon after Mortal Kombat ended.
I always felt that was odd because these were the two titles from the company that were promoted heavily in my area. Meanwhile, Malibu had several universes of characters and series that didn’t really get the same attention and won’t because Marvel isn’t in any hurry to bring those characters back.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.