Friday, November 21, 2008

Death Moves (Malibu/Midway)
Mortal Kombat: Battlewave #6
When: August 1995 Why: Charles Marshall
How: Vinton T. Heuck

The Story So Far...
Held once every generation; the sanctity of Mortal Kombat was intended to be Earth's saving grace. By pitting their greatest warriors against the forces of Outworld in controlled one-on-one contests, they fend off invasion. Representing their evil emperor, Shao Kahn; Shang Tsung and Outworld's fighters need only win ten straight tournaments to be granted freedom to attack Earthrealm.

Lust for power led Shang Tsung to deviate from the course of traditional combat and pursue the powers of a mystic book called the Tao te Zhan. With the tournament compromised, Earth's greatest champions were forced into battle Goro outside of the rules, only to be flung into the depths of Outworld upon the champion's disappearance. Both hero and villain united their efforts to curtail the unleashed forces of the Tao te Zhan, but the Emperor is not so easily curbed.

In his bid to claim the realm of Earth, Shao Kahn takes full advantage of the kidnap of Sonya Blade. Intent on marrying her as a means of crossing the threshold between worlds, Shao Kahn has his minions manipulate the special forces agent's mind, but he failed to account for her friends...

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Shao Kahn 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Shang Tsung 5 (Professor)
Speed: Reptile 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Raiden 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Smoke 7 (Formless)
Fighting Ability: Goro 6 (Warrior)
Energy Power: Raiden 6 (UWMD)

- The Earthrealm warriors are: Raiden, Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, Jax, Johnny Cage, Bo, Sing, Sang, Kung Lao, Sub-Zero, Kitana, & Baraka.

As one of the key realms of the universe, Earthrealm is a land of great promise and potential. Protected by the god of thunder and lightning, Raiden, the Earth stands steadfast against it's opposition, survived by the courage of generations of warriors pledged to light and justice.

Among the great champions to spring from Earthrealm was the warrior called Kung Lao, who first earned victory in a tournament with Outworld. Kung Lao's reign may have been brought to an end by the Shokan Prince, Goro, but decades later his descendents carry on the flame. Liu Kang, accompanied by Kung Lao II, follows in his ancestors footsteps to become the new champion of Mortal Kombat.

- The Outworld warriors are: Shao Kahn, Shang Tsung, Goro, Kintaro, Reptile, Mileena, Smoke, Jade, Kano, & Scorpion.

The realm of Outworld was once the domain of the fabled Dragon King, whose desires to become immortal proved his undoing. Shao Kahn, once an advisor to Onaga, poisoned his master to usurp the throne. In doing so, Kahn destroyed one horror only to become a far worse alternative. His desire for power sees the invasion and conquest of many realms, such as the once beautiful kingdom of Edenia, which was merged into Outworld by the tyrant.

Shao Kahn's most recent preoccupation is Earth where the sorcerer, Shang Tsung, acted as an emmissary of Outworld in the tournament called Mortal Kombat. Ten victories in the tournament would earn Outworld the right to invade Earthrealm without the intervention of the gods. A warrior named Kung Lao once held the title, but his reign as champion was undone by a Shokan prince called Goro.

Outworld is home to many violent species, some displaced by the destruction or assimilation of their home realms. Within Kahn's empire are the nomadic mutant creatures, the Tarkata; the four-armed powerhouses, the Shokan; and the horse-legged Centaurians.

Math: Earthrealm (Ttl) Outworld (Avg) Ranking: Shang Tsung (#19)

What Went Down...
Having endured the hypnotic suggestion of Reptile - Sonya Blade is on the verge of accepting Shao Kahn's hand in marriage when a solitary voice echoes into the tyrant's chambers. Unintimidated by the collective of evil, Liu Kang stands proud, confident as the champion of the Temple of the Order of Light.

Goro, former champion of kombat, charges his newest nemesis with evil intent, but Kang is ready. He leaps the descending fist of the four-armed man-dragon and counters with a skillful kick that staggers the beast!

Shao Kahn's other minions descend with overwhelming numerical superiority, but just as they do, a hurricane wind and thunderous roar usher the arrival of Earth's protector god -- Raiden! Shang Tsung shoos his own allies away, intent on exacting revenge for one of his greatest opposers.

Coming to aid in the scrap are two more of Earth's destined warriors - Sonya's Special Forces partner, Jax, and the actor with a special affection for her, Johnny Cage. Together with Cage's bodyguard, Bo, the trio make an immediate impact against Reptile, Smoke, and Kano!

Just as Goro steps up to make the save, yet another warrior makes a dramatic entrance, this time the merged mortal whose soul is comprised of both living and dead -- Siang! Having been manipulated with the use of a rare gem, Siang again falls beneath the mystic control of Prince Goro, who himself was responsible for killing one of the brothers, Sang.

The rebel collective of Kitana, Kung Lao, Sub-Zero, and Baraka, enter to complete the opposition of Kahn's sinister plot. The Lin Kuei ice warrior, Sub-Zero, quickly renews his vendetta with the ninja whose spectre remains bound to torment so long as he lives. Scorpion is quick to sting, but finds an opponent at the ready!

While the blood fued boils on, kombat spills throughout Shao Kahn's throne room. Kung Lao battles Reptile, while the many other combatants tackle their own foes. The mutants Baraka and Mileena; Princess Kitana and her former ally, Jade; Bo against the combined prowess of Goro and Smoke; and Jax a double-team by Kintaro and Kano! It is a fitting conclusion that mirrors the struggle between realms that gathered these warring factions.

Baring witness to this bitter clash of nemesis', Shao Kahn achieves a moment of clarity. Recognising the passion that drives them to attain physical superiority, he questions the value of any attempt to bring the two sides together.

Even as he observes the mutual hatred shared by denizens of the opposing realms, Shao Kahn is set upon by his would-be bride, the Earthrealm agent he'd attempted to brainwash! Free from her programming, Sonya topples the Emperor with a jump kick to the back of the head!

It begins with a cackle and ends with a booming speech.
In an effort to bring about a conclusion, Shao Kahn declares a challenge to decide the superior force. Thus, Mortal Kombat begins anew, pitting the fighters from both worlds against each other in a race for a sacred artifact...

The Hammer...
After what really amounts to a series of dramatic introductions, we can only conclude that neither force gained certain enough a blow to obtain victory. Ergo, it is a draw for all concerned!

Now well into December, it seems we have quite a bit of catch-up to do. While this means we won't get to milk quite as much out of the month of Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe as originally intended, let it never be said that a Friday went unrepresented in the Infinite Wars!

MKvsDC Super Stock
#1 Batman (DC)
#2 Superman (DC)
#3 Shang Tsung (MK)
#4 Wonder Woman (DC)
#5 Catwoman (DC)
#6 Green Lantern (DC)
#7 Shao Kahn (MK)
#8 Sonya Blade (MK)
#9 Flash (DC)
#10 Raiden (MK)
#11 Kano (MK)
#12 Darkseid (DC)
#13 Deathstroke (DC)
#14 Kitana (MK)
#15 Sub-Zero (MK)
#16 Captain Marvel (DC)
#17 Lex Luthor (DC)
#18 Scorpion (MK)
#19 Joker (DC)
#20 Baraka (MK)
#21 Liu Kang (MK)
#22 Jax (MK)
The idea behind this post was to preceed next week's entry (which will feature Darkseid) with the classic MK boss who put the "Kahn" in Dark Kahn. Admittedly, impatience leaves us with a pretty vague entry for the character, but it's yet another opportunty to indulge in the vast cast of characters that Mortal Kombat has to offer.

Malibu Comics by no means made any kind of delicate effort to weave an intricate story of subtlty and subtext, but we should give them some credit. In practise it proves to be a fairly cumbersome idea, but I rather like the motivation behind Battlewave's interpretation of Sonya as famous captive of the Emperor during MKII.

Presumably inspired by the background that had many fans buzzing with theories in 1993; Sonya, in a subplot pulled straight from modern living, finds herself as the ticket for Kahn to be allowed what amounts to a visa into Earthrealm.
When put alongside established fact from the series - such as Kahn's wedlock to the Edenian Queen, Sindel - you can imagine the scheme as a trump card in the complicated game of the Elder Gods' rules.

What will be lost on neophytes is the fact that the second MK game exists as part of a farcical tournament that serves as little more than a distraction.
The much maligned cinematic sequel, Annihilation, revealed to unfortunate mainstream audiences the core plot of MK3/Trilogy pertaining to the resurrection of Sindel in Earthrealm. If we consider these backdoors into Earth as a routine practise for the conquerer, it stands to reason he might just as likely marry to gain entry into realms, as he is to fight. Whatever works, eh?

Man-slut doesn't really do this boss character justice, however.
Multiple fake-out deaths and a string of varying characterizations have left Kahn in a bit of a state. Back in the day you might have been naive enough to take his lauding exclamations as an acknowledgment from an honorable warrior, but cries of "excellent" and "outstanding" should never have taken away from his menace!

Kahn dealt super-power blows at a cut-price to gamers who made it far enough to enter his arena. Like Bison/Vega before him, Kahn represented the stuff of legend to fans who believed Mortal Kombat's digitized graphics, cartoon gore, and mythologically inspired storyline was king of the arcade.
As much as is possible in storylines dependent on such big and loud plot-twists, I like to think of Kahn as a respectable warrior who is as cunning as he is powerful. A character who is master not only of harsh hand-to-hand combat, but also the dark mystic arts that allow him insight into his allies, enemies, and the world around him.

It's characters like Shao Kahn that gave me fairly high hopes for the meeting between Mortal Kombat and the DC Universe. It felt like an ideal opportunity to take advantage of a T-rated audience quite possibly trained to indulge further in the story and character driven events that surround the DC characters. It was disappointing that the series, largely unrecognised or mocked by other fanbases, could not rise to the challenge.

If Midway can fight to live another day, it will be very interesting to see where they take the series in it's first focused step into this current generation of consoles. With iterations that improve in some way the previous fight engine, Mortal Kombat appears to have a plan for the future, even if this type of scenario has crumbled to mediocrity before. With financial destruction looming, the future of MK remains a very interesting subject.

While we play catch up, be sure to tune in daily for the annual DC/Marvel Fantasy Fight polls, and much more in the Infinite Wars!

The Fight: 3 The Issue: 3

For more on Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe, check out the official website, our Q&A interviews with Jimmy Palmiotti and Hans Lo, and our series of character spotlights and discussions: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, clues special, bonus one, two, three, four and Dark Kahn spotlight, Final MK cast, Final DC cast! ALSO: C2C editions Mortal Kombat vs DCU, Finish Him...!, Heroic Brutality, Heroic Fatality, Mooortal Kombaat!

Don't forget! The holidays are right around the corner! For the fanboy in your life, the Infinite Wars Gift Shoppe offers a range of the titles derived from the many issues reviewed in the Secret Archives! You'll not only find a great Amazonian deal, but also help sponsor the site by using purchase links provided! Cheers!

No comments: