Thursday, October 11, 2007

(Malibu comics)
Mortal Kombat: Blood & Thunder #4 When: October 1994 Why: Charles Marshall How: Patrick Rolo

The story so far...
The sanctity of Mortal Kombat has ensured the safety of Earthrealm for thousands of years, giving humanity the platform to defend itself from the invasion of Outworld. The rules that guard the realms, however, are not without their points of exploitation.

Travelling through Outworld, protector god of Earth, Rayden, and the Lin Kuei warrior, Sub-Zero, each walk in the shadow of the conquering Emperor Shao Kahn, in an effort to defeat the evil machinations of the sorceror Shang Tsung.

Together they seek the mystic text of riddles dubbed the Tao Te Zhan; a pandora's box of power which, once solved, will unleash unfathomable energies upon both Earthrealm and Outworld. Some seek to try to control it, while warriors such as Liu Kang, Sonya Blade and Sub-Zero do their best to prevent the path to Armageddon...

Previous Form:
Scorpion (#295): Defeated by the thunder god, Rayden.
Raiden (#87): Holds a victory over Scorpion, surprisingly enough.
Sub-Zero: Noob Saibot is making his debut in the Infinite Wars.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Rayden 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Rayden 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Rayden 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Rayden 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Sub-Zero 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Scorpion 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Rayden 6 (Mass Destruction)

- Accompanying Sub-Zero in battle is thunder god and protector of the realm of Earth, Rayden. This feature also combines a precursor quick fix featuring a Lin Kuei warrior called Hydro.

- Sub-Zero is a cryomancer with the ability to create and manipulate ice to varying degrees. This allows him to not only freeze opponents, but also fashion weapons from ice.
Hydro, a member of the same clan, is only able to produce jets of water.

- This Sub-Zero is destined to die at the hands of his mortal nemesis, Scorpion, during the first Mortal Kombat tournament. It is this fate that sends him to the Netherealm, where the sorceror Quan Chi revamps him as the jet black wraith Noob Saibot, member of the Brotherhood of Shadow.

- Rayden is a god, and possesses powers according that include nigh invulnerability, control over lightning and electricity, flight, teleportation and otherworldy knowledge and association. Despite his impressive powers, Rayden is ultimately bound by the rules of the Elder Gods, and is typically forced to reduce himself to human-form when becoming active.

- Scorpion is Hanzo Hasashi; a Japanese Shirai-Ryu ninja who was murdered by his mortal enemy Sub-Zero, and tortured by the death of his family and clan. His soul tainted by sin, Scorpion proves powerful enough to thrive in the inferno of the Netherealm, and returns as a spectre, bound to unrest until the death of those responsible for the wrongs commited against him.

- The infernal strengths of a hellspawn spectre vary, but for Scorpion this typically includes a control over hellfire (including flame breath), teleportation, and increased strength and durability. When mortally wounded, Scorpion will return to the Netherealm, giving him the opportunity to once again escape.
Scorpion's assault arsenal also includes mastery over the kunai rope spear.

The Math: Draw The Pick: Scorpion

What went down...
Walking the wastelands of Outworld, Rayden and Sub-Zero discover tracks belonging to the younger Lin Kuei warrior called Hydro. Sub-Zero drops suddenly to the ground, his body shaken by the presence of the undead spectre, Scorpion!

Not far, Scorpion presses his advantage over the Lin Kuei warrior, evading his water blasts to attack with a variation on the spear attack. The spiked ball attached to his rope rips at Hydro's throat, signing his death warrant.

Revealing his true self; the flaming skull of the spectre; Scorpion lords over the wounded Lin Kuei, driving his fist in a spray of blood and gore to strike the killing blow. Celebrations are abruptly cut short as a bolt of lightning strikes Scorpion.

Looming over the rocky terrain of the wastelands is Rayden, with Sub-Zero entow, and unshaken before the hellspawn, as he had once been.

Unafraid of the undead manifestation of a man he once killed, Sub-Zero steps up to confront the Shirai-Ryu spectre to destroy him once again.

A spray of ice freezes the surprised Scorpion's body solid, leaving him unable to teleport away, or return the attack.

Sub-Zero leaps from his rocky vantage point to throw a mighty kick that shatters the frozen Scorpion. His body destroyed, the spirit of the spectre rises into the purple sky with the promise to return, despite Rayden's stern warnings.

The hammer...
Sub-Zero wins! Flawless victory! Fatality!
It shouldn't go unmentioned that Scorpion did pick up a victory/fatality of his own, defeating the infamous Hydro.

This gives us an opportunity to talk a little MK, but first I want to throw a shout-out to -Brad-. He took the ever pleasing initiative to take full advantage of the Infinite Wars as a resource, spreading the war cry by sharing the tape statistical analysis at the MKO message boards.

We already know from our extra-curricular weekend activities that I'm a big Street Fighter fan, and as polarizing as the two camps should be, I dilligently keep a foot firmly planted in both arenas. As the Infinite Wars attest, you should never limit yourself when it comes to good combat!

There are a whole range of motivations for running a site like this, but one of them is definitely to connect and provide an information/entertainment source for the online community. Taking full advantage of data collecting resources, I like to follow the interests that attract people to the Infinite Wars, and while SF no doubt attracts far more hits: Ask and ye shall receive!... Sometimes... Whenever possible...

One of SCORPION's lesser known trademark moves is the TELEPORT PUNCH.-Brad- raises some points concerning our tape analysis, which do well to cut to the core issues, asking why guys like Rayden and Scorpion are only rated a 3 for speed, when they can teleport instantly.

As you can see in this entry's new format tape, one of the explanations for scaling down Rayden's statistics are largely due to the nature of how he interacts. We have the difficult task of balancing the standard interpretation of a character in our statistics, which in the case of video game characters, tries to balance both in-game characteristics defined by gameplay, and also canonical traits typified in storyline and external sources.

Fortunately, Rayden's involvement is typically footnoted by a compromise to take human form. This far better reflects his in-game interactions with other characters, possessing much the same speed and strength as other playables.

There's also the matter of the nature of speed in context.
Dr. Strange can teleport anywhere in the world in a passing moment, but no one would regard Dr. Strange as a super-fast character. In the context of battle, speed pertains to the movement of the character in combat. Teleportation is a defensive abstraction of speed that slips under the radar of our tape analysis.

So, after that longwinded explanation, you'd think we'd take some easy sailing from here, but no, no. Not on the Secret Earth, friends. Our job isn't done if you aren't thinking about the material in question, which brings us back to some footnotes concerning the MK universe I am so fond of.

We mentioned earlier the "infamous" Hydro.
There's a general expectation of any adaptation, particularly relating to video games, that things aren't quite going to be as good as they might be. Often negatives specifically stem from major changes, or in a case like Hydro, additions made by the production licensing the franchise.

The MK fanbase, like any fanbase, has high walls designed to keep less invested fans out. An expected knowledge level leads to a competitive streak in fanbases, which invariably means one misinterpretation or lie can be permeated through uninformed word of mouth to become confused-fact.

Hydro was a Lin Kuei addition created by the good people at Malibu, presumably for disposable purposes as depicted in this particular issue. A Mortal Kombat comic without death, particularly in 1994 - two years after release - would seem almost unthinkable.

The irony of Mortal Kombat is, of course, that for all it's brutality and violence, very few characters actually ever die. Entirely understandable from a franchise perspective, but an awkward quality for the on-going story of a universe characterized by blood thirsty tyrants, and super-powered ninja.

Hydro somehow managed to filter through the MK fanbase, often mischaracterized as an undiscovered in-game secret character, or new addition to the series.

As far as original creations from external sources go, Hydro probably isn't too terrible, which is probably key to his permeatation. It isn't unreasonable to assume a clan that houses fighters who can create smoke and ice, might have intermediate counterparts capable only of producing watery spray.
And, as silly a name as Hydro is, it really isn't much worse than Sub-Zero.

Or Noob Saibot, which brings us to another convenient note to be made.
1993's Mortal Kombat II introduced through it's endings the shocking twist that the Sub-Zero featured was in fact the brother of the first game's.
The Sub-Zero of the previous game had been murdered by Scorpion during the first tournament, as per his revenge pact.

This ultimately raised more questions than it answered when Scorpion would continue to reappear in subsequent sequels.
Eventually the story would be solved in Mortal Kombat 4, where new character Quan Chi would be revealed as the unaccounted for in Scorpion's curse; responsible for the murder of his family and Shirai-Ryu clan.

It's also worth mentioning, before we wrap up, that despite his depiction in the Malibu series, the first Sub-Zero was far more corrupt than his successor. It was the second in-game Sub-Zero that would restore the name's pride, eventually battling and reinventing the Lin Kuei as a force for good. This would bring him into conflict with the resurrected original, as Noob Saibot.

That's probably more than enough MK for the regular readers.
If you're like -Brad- and you want to see more MK feature in the Infinite Wars, drop a comment and link your friends. I get Street Fighter hits from all around the world, and look what it got them! The sabbath!

Also a shout out to When Fangirls Attack, who are again carrying one of our articles, yesterday's Powergirl entry. I like to think our mindless antics bring a little spicey variety to the usual feminist batch, but as always, I express the fondest gratitude for their support.

The Fight: 3 The Issue: 3
[The Malibu MK comics really were quite atrocious, and one has to wonder if the penciller changes were at all because of that. I can't be as damning of this earlier issue, but it really does highlight the untapped possibility of the franchise. This certainly remains one of the licenses I'd most like to see at Nite Lite Theatre.]

No comments: