The New Mortal Kombat Comic Isn't Even Bad In A Good Way

The New Mortal Kombat Comic Isn't Even Bad in a Good Way

It's one thing to have low expectations for a comic book spinning off of a video game. It's entirely another to have the project come in under those expectations. Unfortunately, the new Mortal Kombat X digital comic out this week does the latter.

Look: like many fighting games, the story driving Mortal Kombat's to-the-death fights has been clunky and heavy-handed over the years. But, traditionally, it's been good for a dose of cheesy bombast and fancy-sounding pseudo-mysticism. There's never been much shading or nuance in the Earth-vs-Outworld beef but the focus on action in the games made that ok. The ebb, flow and momentum shifts in players' man-a-mano showdowns are the franchise's truest storytelling. From the very first, digitised version of Mortal Kombat 1, there was a clear line of connection the game's gory fatalities to the 1970s kung-fu movies that inspired them.

The New Mortal Kombat Comic Isn't Even Bad in a Good Way

Written by Shawn Kittelsen with art by Dexter Soy, Mortal Kombat X #1 does deliver blood-drenched martial arts action but lacks the build-up that makes those moments impactful. From the very first page, it feels like you're starting a story already long in the telling. The creative team seems to assume that the reader might know the various characters and/or factions in the Kombat-verse. And while that's a fair assumption to make for a comic of this sort, the panels in this issue do very little to pull in lapsed fans or readers new to Mortal Kombat.

The book opens with blind swordsman Kenshi on the run from members of the Red Dragon mercenary clan, until Scorpion intervenes and saves Kenshi and the boy he was travelling with. From there, it hops into flashbacks and moves around the globe, turning its camera to other familiar Kombatants as they chase down artifacts or each other. Now, I can't sit here and tell you what happened at the end of Mortal Kombat 9 but the comic that's supposed to connect that game with the upcoming Mortal Kombat X does nothing to make me interested.

You have to already be invested the lore to get into this comic but nothing about the execution here will make you care about that lore. There's no drama or tension and even the familiar rivalries that MK players know about are absent from this debut issue.

The New Mortal Kombat Comic Isn't Even Bad in a Good Way

The reason that the various Street Fighter comics projects done by the Udon art studio generated such a fervent fan following years ago was because the execution embraced the goofy, over-the-top nature of Capcom's fighting game series. Wild camera angles, distorted body types, approaches to colour that sometimes bordered on the psychedelic... all of those elements spoke to a passion for either Street Fighter, manga/anime styling or improving one's artistic craft.

None of that comes through in the first issue of Mortal Kombat X. It's gory but only because it feels like it has to be. There's no sense of high-stakes here. It's entirely possible that some entertaining nuggets of information may come via this ongoing series. But, right now, it seems like any gold to be found will be surrounded by mounds of dreck.


Comments

    Given the digital nature of this comic book its not even half of an issue yet and the author seems to think it's not even worth his time. This is all just setting up of the story. The digital versions of injustice and infinite crisis had a slight connection to tge games but have gone on to tell a great story.

    Evan seems to have gone into all this thinking that this comic was to be some spoiler heavy version of the upcoming games story. The chances of these stories being related to the main game are very remote. In future Evan might want to wait a couple of issues before running his uninformed mouth

      Could not agree more, I found the artwork great, and considering the target audience, well written and wanting to read more
      This entire article is so blatantly negative and dismissive

    Artwork looks great.

    Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.

    Sorry but this reviewer must not know nearly as much about MK as he/she thinks. Yes, you do need to know a bit about the story to get what's happening but even to the hardcore fans of the lore and mythos this first issue brings up some serious questions that need to be answered. As a huge MK fan (and part of many MK fan sites) we are all itching to read the next part.

    Netherrealm War - This comic is the first we have heard of this, people want to know about it.

    Scorpion (Hanzo) having a normal face instead of a skull, that along with what Kenshi says about "Hanzo conquered Scorpion years ago" raises some questions that we all want answered as well.

    Scorpion rebuilding the Shirai Ryu - We all know Scorpion wanted was to have his clan and family back, for just about every game he has been bent on getting vengeance on those responsible, but now he seems to be over it, and even rebuilt his clan. Where did he get these new clans members? He recruited survivors from the Netherrealm war, that thing we know very little about.

    There is still the mystery about which Sub-Zero this is. I think its Kuai Liang because of the cut he receives on his face, its reminiscent to the one he had in the original timeline but its still not confirmed. Also, if it is Kaui-Liang, how did he come back? He was a dead cyborg last time we saw him. Did the Netherrealm war have something to do with it?Scorpion seems to be a human again (but still with his Spectre powers) we know Kung Lao is coming back (He also died in MK9) So maybe this war we know nothing of allowed previously dead or undead people to return.

    I understand every one has their own opinions on things and I respect the reviewers opinion, but saying that this comic doesn't make anybody care about the lore is false, maybe not you, but many people care about the lore and story, and this comic introduced us to some concepts in the lore that we don't know about yet, and tbh a lot of us are extremely excited to find out the answers to all of these questions.

      Agreed, this article was a bit irresponsible. The two digital issues that have been released so far have given the fans plenty of new details to stew over and they're only two thirds of the first physical book. If you're an MK fan then you know that the developers have been unapologetic about starving us for months now, so these comics are pretty tantalizing. Look, I'm not suggesting that Kotaku should only be assigning writers who are big fans of a franchise to write about it. That would just be swapping one problem for another. In this case however, the author doesn't seem to care much about MK's lore, an aspect that sets it apart from many other fighting games. Maybe a review by someone who knew a bit more about the subject matter would have been fairer.

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