The King of Fighters: A New Beginning – Volume 4 Review

The King of Fighters XIV manga adaptation continues to show the same pattern of “two chapters of fighting, interlude, two chapters of fighting” that the previous volumes have, but also continues to heavily feature the NESTS organisation, which gives it many bonus points in my eyes. Let’s see how it continues on, shall we! Erm… BURN TO FIGHT! I guess? (that’s the pre-fight phrase, for some reason…)

Synopsis:

After brutal encounter with re-activated NESTS agent Angel, Team Ikari Warriors now face the two more normal members of Team Mexico…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Some of the wrestling terminology must be lost on some readers… not me though!

The first two chapters of this volume are more light-hearted than the heavier fight that capped off the previous book. Ikari Warrior Clark faces off with “King of Dinosaurs”, but it turns out the former is a big wrestling fan and has figured out KoD’s identity of famous babyface Tizoc, so during the battle Clark says stuff like “you don’t make a good heel” which is weird in a world where wrestling is clearly a real thing, but hey-ho. He ends up unmasking King of Dinosaurs as Tizoc (yes he was wearing his old bird mask under his dinosaur mask…) and winning. A good natured fight, which is in direct contrast to Ikari Warrior’s Ralf facing off against Team Mexico’s Ramon, where the two start off insulting each other, then proceed to beat the ever-loving hell out of each other across a few violent pages until Ralf wins as Ramon falls unconscious while still standing on his feet (erm, somehow). It was quite the spectacle! Turns out Ralf was supposed to throw the fight so Ikari Warriors could work behind the scenes to unmask the NESTS remnants, so he gets a bollocking from their leader Heidern…

We then get an interlude where Team Psycho Soldier of pop idol Athena, eager young student Sie Kensou and their master Chin Gentsai help out the Ikari Warriors in finding out where the NESTS group are hiding, and then teleport there to scout. K’ (pronounced “Kay Dash”) and his two teammates Maxima and Kula Diamond overhear the conversation and prepare to help them by dragging out the next match to keep NESTS’ attention, all three of them being former NESTS experiments and so likely being monitored. Kula is up first, but her childlike mind is unable to comprehend both “stalling for time” and the idea that her opponent, Zarina of Team South America, has a dream she wants to fulfil, and in fact gets rather angry at hearing her opponent talk about such things. The fight ends fast in Kula’s favour…

K’ despairs at the thought of having to get up off the sofa.

The final chapter then sees K’ face off against Nelson, a boxer who lost his right arm but has been given a cybernetic one instead. Sadly for all involved it turns out that the arm was created by NESTS, and not only does Nelson lose control as his arm goes all Tetsuo from Akira on his opponent, but Kula falls under the influence of the criminal organisation and comes after the second KOF arc’s protagonist, which he casually regards as a “pain” to deal with. Meanwhile Team Psycho Solider start fighting some NESTS remnants and find out that they have somehow managed to restart the Kyo Kusanagi cloning program and already have many examples wondering around…

A good cliffhanger, and one I didn’t see coming due to this whole NESTS side step not being covered in the game. The artwork is still a thing of beauty as well!

The Bad:

An injured Ramon goes for one last attack.

As I always say, the only real bad part of it is down to how unapproachable it is for new comers to the KOF franchise. It’s called “A New Beginning” but this whole volume has so many call backs and nods to the second story arc from King of Fighters 99, 2000 and 2001 that it really isn’t written for new fans in mind. As a long-time fan of the franchise I love it, but I can’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t…

Overall Thoughts:

It’s the back cover! … because it’s getting harder to find relevant scans any more…

A lot of these overall thoughts are going to be very similar, as once again King of Fighters: A New Beginning has some great fight scenes with stunning artwork and some lovely nods to the past of the series, but is pretty hard to recommend to anyone who isn’t already a fan of the games. A four for me, but probably a lot lower if you’re looking for something with a bit more substance and coherent plot without playing a couple of decades worth of games…

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