Friday, November 14, 2008

Mortal Mayhem (Malibu/Midway)
Mortal Kombat: Blood & Thunder #6
When: December 1994 Why: Charles Marshall
How: Patrick Rolo

The Story So Far...
Struggling to prove himself as a successful martial arts film star, Johnny Cage seeks the noteriety of an ancient martial arts tournament that will prove his expert skills.

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. Representing their evil emperor, Shao Kahn, Shang Tsung and Outworld's fighters need only win ten straight tournaments to be granted freedom to invade the Earth.

Shang Tsung's desire for victory led him to the mysteries of an ancient book of power called, the Tao te Zhan. This deviaton has corrupted the tournament in which Earth's final hopes dangle. Now, scattered across the realm of Outworld, the warriors of Earth wage their own personal battles in Mortal Kombat...

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Noob Saibot 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Noob Saibot 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Johnny Cage 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Draw 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Power: Noob Saibot 4 (Arsenal)

- John Carlton studied the martial arts with some of the world's greatest masters, but rather than dedicate himself to the enlightenment of the arts, he assumed the screen name of Johnny Cage to become a renowned action film star.

Despite amassing cult followings around the world (notably, France); Cage fails to endear himself to an audience of critics who believe he relies too heavily upon special effects and trick photography. Little do moviegoers and reviewers know, Cage's amazing feats are all his own, the result of his mastery of fighting techniques that harness his chi for energy blasts and the legendary shadow kick.

The filmstar embarks on a quest for noteriety, hoping to earn the respect of his peers through victory of an ancient martial arts tournament held by Shaolin Monks. Unbeknownst to the actor, he approaches his destiny to become one of the Earth's great protectors in the competition called Mortal Kombat.

- Descended from an ancient race of warriors capable of manipulating ice; the being called Noob Saibot was the legendary mortal assassin, Sub-Zero. As a member of the elusive Lin Kuei clan, Noob had inhereted the mantle from his cryomancer father, before it was handed to his younger brother, after his death.

It was while in the employ of the sorcerer Quan Chi that Noob found himself pitted against a member of rival clan, the Shirai-Ryu, in a race to retrieve ancient artifacts of great power. When faced with the skilled ninja called Scorpion, Noob murdered his rival, succeeding in serving the evil plot of Quan Chi.
Scorpion's soul refused to rest, however, returning from the realm of dishonored dead to seek vengeance for his own demise, and the murder of his family and clan. Noob could only delay the inevitable so long, eventually succumbing to Scoprion's rage at the Mortal Kombat tournament.

His soul tainted; the then Sub-Zero was condemned to the Netherealm where Quan Chi charred his body black with the powers of his Brotherhood of Shadow. Reborn as a mindless wraith, Noob Saibot gained new dark power in the name of a new master he had unwittingly served all along; Shinnok.

As a wraith Noob appears to have lost, or forgotten, his knowledge of the inherent kori arts that come with being a cryomancer. Instead, he possesses a variety of abilities to teleport and move through darkness, as well as his own impressive skill in the martial arts. Upon regaining his consciousness, Noob embarks on his own dark mission of domination.

Math: Noob Saibot Ranking: Noob Saibot (#34)

What Went Down...
Distracted by his battle with Sonya Blade, Kano loses sight of the legendary Tao te Zhan book, making it easy pickings for the evasive warrior, Sub-Zero!
Although power seems to be within his grasp, the contemplative cryomancer fails to notice a shadowy martial artist lurking up behind him -- Johnny Cage!

The surprise flykick knocks the book from Sub-Zero's hands and leaves him vulnerable to a driving boot to the gut - reminiscent of Cage's trademark shadow kick! The blow is decisive - payback for a previous ambush by the icey assassin.

Sub-Zero scoffs his opponents tenacity, boasting the reputation of the Lin Kuei clan's standard of membership. By naivity or action-movie delivery, Cage deflects the verbal assault, and follows with an uncompromising fist to the face!

The action star is forced to contend with the deadly kori technique as Sub-Zero resorts to the art of ice manipulation to silence his foe. Familiar with the attack, Cage plays a game of avoidance, dodging and blocking the attacks, only to find himself at the whims of a more tactile assault -- a vaulting leg throw!

Showing an aptitude for balance, Cage lands on his feet, perching at the ready to launch a finishing assault. It begins with a running start, but soon the star becomes airborne, launching foot-first into an energied kick attack!

Johnny Cage wins!

The Hammer...
Uhhh... For tradition's sake and those of you spin to the end to find the conclusion, I might as well repeat myself: Johnny Cage wins!

Regular readers know we're once again staggeringly far behind schedule, but the sacred tradition of a fight each Friday must be upheld! As was decreed by our fighting forefathers!

Those playing along at home will have seen us chipping our way through the Blood & Thunder series throughout the year.
The title offered a spine of central plot elements relevant to most of Malibu's '94/'95 run with the Mortal Kombat license, embellishing it's own history around the MK tournament of the 1992 game, before spinning out into new plot threads.

As you would expect of any good MK series there's plenty of punching and kicking to be found throughout the series.
In an effort to set us up for a final megamix entry on the series (detailing the remaining unreviewed skirmishes); this fight, with curious irony, marks the last of the feature-length clashes.

The November 16 (US)/November 21 (EU) release of Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe has been a driving force on the site, but the final product has failed to impress. Whilst noted improvements for the MK brand have been made on a technical level, the final product smacks of a rushed mandated cash-in, whether that be the case, or not. Of the most obvious criticisms is the under representation felt by a game that offers a subdued twenty-two character roster, only even from each brand.

The irony of wrapping up the Blood & Thunder review sequence on this fight is that they are two very recognisable characters not featured. Alright, there are good reasons for that. Despite being the only two playable characters not to make the grade, the deceased Sub-Zero is easily succeeded by his brother, and Johnny Cage remains a character tenuously connected to the martial arts epic as comedy relief and a rarely utilized human inlet into the fantastical series.

The big news right now, of course, is the mysterious investor emerging from the dark. Is he an undead emmissary of evil, a white knight in service of the Elder Gods, or just another re-coloured super-unlockable Scorpion?
Little is known of "Mark Thomas" but we do know he's the head of the awfully generic sounding "Acquisition Holdings Subsidiary I LLC" and he has no intention of sitting on the Midway board, which, given his 87% stock holding, sounds like a special order of assets ala chop-suey.

In a recent interview with Official Xbox Magazine [#143] series co-creator and senior producer, Ed Boon, floated the prospect of MK finding a new home. Ed remarks on the intrigue of seeing someone else tackle the franchise, but as the chat was conducted before the buy-out news broke, little more than suppository deductions based on voice tone analysis can be drawn. Boon does have a nice little chat about some of the characters that missed out, including Lobo, who was not a character the creator was familiar with. A satisfying footnote for anyone ashamed and embarassed by the MK fanbases' tendency toward clinging to outrageous nineties properties without a hint of irony.

For Mortal Kombat, the future looks uncertain, but very interesting. We will, no doubt, return to the subject as it continues to develop.

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!

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!

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