Mortal Kombat X: Blood Ties Volume 1 ReviewMay 8, 2015
Get over here… for an all-new digital-first series set before the events of 2015’s highly anticipated game Mortal Kombat X. Prepare yourself for the brutal adventures of all your favorite Mortal Kombat characters and witness the rise of the next generation of Kombatants! As Scorpion and his newest companion set off in deadly pursuit of Raiden, Cassie Cage finds herself in an illegal MMA deathmatch. Is she ready for her first taste of Mortal Kombat? Collects issues #1-4 of the new series.
There are few games that have much more attachment and nostalgia than the Mortal Kombat franchise. Personally, it was a quarter eating machine that was poised to ruin my thumbs back in the early 90s when it hit arcades, and has held a good amount of sway with each new installment along the way. Now with a new comic book series acting as a prelude to the new game, it immediately piqued my interest as something that I would want to check out.
Writer Shawn Kittelson takes the helm for this series, and it is immediately tangible that he has a very good grasp of the characters personalities, and how they fit into the grander Mortal Kombat world. The problem that arises is that we are exploring quite a few mythologies at the same time and it can become messy the further you go into the story. It appears that Kittelson was going for a grand world in which Mortal Kombat existed, but it becomes bogged down with quite a few time changes and flashbacks that can really seem quite jarring to the reader as you progress.
During the chapters exploring Scorpion for example, the book jumps all over the place through his history, and can get confusing as you move from one page to the next, and with that from one time period to the next without much of a lead in, or reason to glimpse the past. It seems similar in approach to the time jumping that is employed on Arrow, but to a much less effective degree.
However, that is only a small piece of this action packed puzzle. Kittelson has a great grasp on writing Kombat fueled action, and feels right out of the video game. The action is fast paced and hits most of the same beats you would go through in the video game. With the main plot dealing with the uniting a series of cursed daggers, it gives us a reason to bring together many familiar faces in a bid to protect Earthrealm and Outworld from ultimate destruction though the usual series of violent brawls. Quite a few characters make appearances but at this point are given very little to do or have much of an affect on the overall plot. Kotal Kahn for instance is given this grand backstory and is presented as this brutal warrior, but in the present storyline has little to do with what is going on. Cassie Cage and Jacqui Briggs are introduced and create some family drama that would be a fantastic story point, but the book jumps away from it too fast to really enjoy it.
Kittelson really takes these fights the distance, even employing the famed one liners of the characters. The violence levels are exactly what you would expect from something wearing the Mortal Kombat title.
While the story is a little disjointed, the artwork is absolutely stunning. Beginning with Ivan Reis’ amazing cover art, Dexter Soy delivers throughout this volume. The action is crisp and incredible to look at. From blood soaked demonic ninja battles to Cassie Cage in a drop down, drag out cage fight, the artwork proves to be just as brutal as its namesake, and has those same “did you see that” moments just like the game. Soy even manages to use the x-ray close up shots of brutal hits, without it seeming completely out of place. The art is certainly a definite high point of the book and will have me coming back for more to see more of Soy’s work within the Kombat universe.
While this first installment does not quite achieve Flawless Victory, it does have a lot of bright points like its stunning artwork, and is worth sticking with the series to see where it heads next. If you have already picked up Mortal Kombat X and you want a bit more to the story than the game provided, you will feel right at home with this graphic novel.