Tag Archives: shao kahn

MKK: Kollector & Kut Kontent

Mortal Kombat 11 introduced four new fighters, and three of them are either literally or metaphorically related. The only odd-man out is Kollector.

Nice chain

We’re down to the dregs of Shao Kahn’s support group at this point, so Kollector was Shao Kahn’s tax collector (I’m not dignifying that with a K) back in the day. Given Shao Kahn has been dead for a quarter of a century by MK11, Kollector has spent most of his time recently on the run from Kotal Kahn, the current big man on the throne. At the top of MK11’s story, Kollector has been captured, but is immediately freed by a time traveling Shao Kahn. From there, Kollector seems to exist as the one person on the planet that isn’t scheming to betray and/or murder Shao Kahn, and spends the rest of the plot as… Wow. Is there a level below Baraka? Because he’s there. He’s a sub-Baraka minion, and that’s all he has to offer.

As far as actual gameplay, Kollector’s whole deal is he collects all kinds of fun bulbs and baubles, and uses interesting weapons in combat with his non-standard number of arms. Unfortunately, Erron Black is right there doing the same thing better (as a cowboy!), and Kollector only seems to have a collection of basic bladed weapons, a bola, and, like, one cruddy mystical artifact. He could pull a whole Zelda’s worth of items out of that bag of holding, but, nope, he’s just got a sickle or two. Pathetic. Kollector was clearly envisioned as “what if Goro, but a nerd?” and then everyone knocked off for the rest of the day to slowly sip chicken broth while discussing economic theory.

Dude looks cool, but is boring and half-baked. Elder gods help us, we’re back in the MK: Deadly Alliance days…

And… uh… that’s it for this week. The last three in Mortal Kombat 11 are their own triangle, and I pretty much have to cover ‘em together, and…. Hm. If that’s going to be the last look at Mortal Kombat Kharacters, I may as well wrap up any loose ends here. Oh! I know! Let’s look at…

Mortal Kombat Kut Kontent

This is the Komplete Guide to Mortal Kombat Kharacters, and while we can certainly say every playable kharacter across the franchise is getting covered, noting every last rumor or cut character from Mortal Kombat is marginally impossible. Mortal Kombat has been around for decades at this point, and, in that time, there has been everything from officially licensed hoaxes, to a sprawling comic book universe, to a show on TNT that aired at 11 PM that I was never allowed to stay up to watch. Did you know that Raiden had a pair of female servants named Wynd and Rayne in the comics? And they, like everybody else in the universe, beat Kano within an inch of his life? It happens, but it’s not exactly worth noting in the grand scheme of things. However, there are kharacters that should be logged in a holistic look at MK. For instance, the comics introduced the God of Order, Abacus, and God of Chaos, Zaggot. They’re both entirely forgettable (Zaggot has a Crow named Rook, which is like having a snake named Iguana), but they’re clearly ancestors to the Order/Chaos Realms that eventually dominated the story of Mortal Kombat for a game or two. … Or it’s just a coincidence. But at least it’s neat!

So let’s look at a few neat kut kharacters across Mortal Kombat history.

First of all, we’ve got the fighter that I hate more than any other: Nimbus Terrafaux. Nimbus was supposedly an African American kickboxer hidden in the original Mortal Kombat. He was, in reality, an April Fool’s Day gag by Electronic Gaming Monthly, brought to you by the same nerds responsible for claiming Master Sheng Long was hiding in Street Fighter 2 if you could only beat the entire game without taking a single hit. Nimbus could only be unlocked on the Sega Genesis version, and only through entering a special code when Reptile arbitrarily appears and says exactly one of his many random phrases. It’s unclear if this “rumored character” was actually the creation of “a reader” or the EGM staff forging a hoax for giggles (they notably state it could be a fake, and compliment the potential faker’s image manipulation skills… and that name…), but, one way or another, the rumor of Nimbus Terrafaux got out there, and from then on, it was open season on any stupid thing someone could come up with.

FAKE
VERY FAKE

Here’s EGM’s Issue 56 touting the legend of Nimbus. Note that what was later called an “April Fool’s Day” prank was published in their March 1994 issue.

ERROR

Also, for giggles, here’s “Ermac” back in Issue 51. October of 1993 was clearly not April, either.

Speaking of that particular hoax, Ermac and Skarlet, the red ninja of various genders, were originally rumor kharacters that graduated to full personhood, but the likes of Emerald (a green female ninja with white skin from MK2) or Red Robin (basically Ermac again) weren’t so lucky. We’ve also got Pedro from Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, who is seriously just Stryker with a super racist mustache (and super racist moves!) from Computer and Video Games Issue #173. That one was at least published in April (’96, for the record)!

Racist!

And these are just the fake characters that were featured in various magazines, it is impossible to quantify the sheer volume of playground rumors associated with Mortal Kombat.

And it all traces back to some random jokes from “reputable sources”. Thanks for fanning the flames, guys!

Though I’m probably being hasty in blaming magazine editors here, as the fans were as bad as anyone.

Look out!

That is clearly a mini version of Liu Kang in the background of MK2, and he’s clearly just watching another Liu Kang clone catch fire, presumably as part of some kind of fatality. But that didn’t stop the fanbase from speculating that these were two unique characters, so fire dude got named Torch, and the inflammable one (editor’s note: that doesn’t say what you think) was dubbed Hornbuckle. Hornbuckle (so named for a nonsense statement from hidden kharacter Jade) never materialized as anything other than a background element, but “Torch” was eventually repurposed to be the hidden kharacter Blaze in MK5, and then returned as the final boss of MK7. So maybe the fans are helping? Who the hell knows.

What in blazes

But let’s move on to monsters that almost made it. On the demonic side of things, we have Belokk who was supposed to appear in Mortal Kombat Gold. He was part of a batch of screenshots that were published by Game Informer, but he was apparently always intended to be cut content. Or the pictures were leaked to see if anyone cared enough to see a new demon fighter in the franchise? It’s pretty clear from the images that Belokk is at least a partial body swap of the MK4 Goro model, so it’s possible he was some half-hearted attempt at a new mini-boss for that title. Approximately 110% of Mortal Kombat 4 was slapdash, so it would only make sense that its potential mini boss and his “reveal” would be equally lousy. There’s an “unclaimed” question mark block in the MK4 Gold roster (it’s behind Tanya), so maybe he was supposed to be there? If he’s supposed to be somewhere, at least Belokk ain’t talkin’ about it.

Demonic

And while we’re looking at devils, there’s Baphomet, a kharacter that was kut early in the development of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. He would have been an Elder Demon to contrast with the Elder Gods that had been established in Mortal Kombat kanon for years. This could have been cool, and certainly would have had an impact on later storylines that feature the Elder Gods getting up to various less than holy hijinks, but Baphomet and his whole race was cut well before MK: DA hit modeling. It’s presumed that he was cut because MK didn’t want to garner any further demonic connotations after its last gigantic, won’t-someone-please-think-of-the-children controversy, but this is a franchise that already has a murder skeleton that lives in Hell, so what would be the harm? Regardless, Baphomet’s head greatly resembles what would become the symbol of the Netherrealm in Mortal Kombat: Deception, so presumably someone misses the guy.

Drag on

Also cut from MK: Deadly Alliance was Tiamat, a lizard dragon man. It’s pretty clear that whatever technology was going to keep Tiamat going was incorporated into Reptile’s extreme lizard makeover in Deadly Alliance, and a big, bad reptile, Onaga the Dragon King, did wind up as the final boss of Mortal Kombat: Deception.

Just Reptile

So, in this case, pretty much everything remarkable about Tiamat wound up with two pretty memorable characters, so no great loss there. Not like this Tiamat had enough heads anyway…

Zebron, on the other hand, never had a chance.

Black and white and red all over

None of his distinctive traits were incorporated into other fighters. Which is a shame. That looks like the face of a man that would kill his own mother for a free churro.

But there is hope for everyone. It might be because he has the dumbest, most obvious name on this list, but let’s take a moment to discuss Hydro.

Damp
Hydro


Like Sub-Zero, Hydro was a Lin Kuei assassin, but he had fire water powers. In the Malibu comics of 1994, Scorpion swore to kill everyone Sub-Zero ever loved… and that was kind of difficult, as Sub-Zero didn’t have any actual friends in Mortal Kombat kanon. Does Smoke count? He’s more of a coworker, though… Regardless! Mortal Kombat: Blood and Thunder needed at least one friendly for Sub-Zero to babble at, so a blue clad ninja named Hydro made the scene. And then he got killed. Sorry, Subs, but Scorpion can fight through a refreshing shower.

But! Hydro technically resurfaced in the franchise in 2011 as part of the Mortal Kombat: Legacy series. MK:L was a live-action webseries that told the origin stories of a number of Mortal Kombat kharacters while looking cool, and that was absolutely all it ever had to do. The whole series started thanks to the director’s own “fan made” Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, a short film that dropped the mystical from Mortal Kombat and reimagined its characters as “real” murderous malcontents in a marginally down-to-earth setting. Baraka was a human surgeon who stitched blades to his arms, and Reptile had a skin condition. It was weird. Naturally, Warner Bros identified the audience interested in this “real” Mortal Kombat, and decided to serve them the same magical stories MK had been telling from the beginning. C’est la vie.

Wet robot
Hydro-Electric. Damn.


But what’s important is that the ninth episode focused on the cyborgs Cyrax and Sektor, and their opponent was an “earlier model” of cyber Lin Kuei, Hydro! Hydro is established as an old man (well, 50, but that’s pretty old for a ninja assassin) that was one of the first Lin Kuei to undergo the cyberization process. Unfortunately, they were still working out the bugs there in the beginning, so by the time Cyrax and Sektor were “built”… uh… just going to come out and say this: Sektor beats Hydro. Sektor kills Hydro. It’s a fatality. Sorry, buddy, you’ve appeared in two different mediums now, and you’ve suffered death by ninja in both.

But! There’s still hope! In Mortal Kombat 11, you can now use the Water God’s Artifact, and it “summons” Hydro (off screen) to help in a fight by launching your opponent with a tidal wave. So see! Hydro is in there! He’s a real boy! Other luminaries like Reptile (throwing an energy ball) and Bo Rai Cho (throwing a fart) get the same treatment, so Hydro is in good company.

There’s no kut kontent in Mortal Kombat, just ideas resting and waiting for their turn. We’ll see Nimbus again some day.

… He can have Kollector’s spot.

Next time: The end of everything. And it’s about time.

MKK: Kotal Kahn

The main plot of Mortal Kombat X concerns the immortal, unstoppable elder god Shinnok and his hated rival, a twenty something woman that is perpetually chewing bubblegum. However, there is a third column and subplot running through MKX, and it features Outworld, a struggle for its throne, and Kotal Kahn (and that name should tell you who wins said struggle).

Have a heart

Like a lot of Outworlders, Ko’atal has a backstory that stretches back hundreds of years. At some point, Ko’atal and his people, the Osh-Tekk, traveled to Earthrealm, hung out with the ancient Mayans, and enjoyed being worshipped as gods. As a result, Osh-Tekk people influenced Mayan culture to a significant degree, as the Osh-Tek’s natural hunger for beating hearts led to some very metal rituals and murals. Oh, and Ko’atal was distinctly named their god of war (aka Buluc), which somehow makes him the second playable “god of war” to appear in the franchise (and third if you include Injustice). Regardless, at some point, the Osh-Tekk headed back to their own private dimension, and left the Mayan People with a deep and unrequited need to transform into jaguars. And that is the secret origin of furries in the Mortal Kombat universe.

But the Osh-Tekk did not fare as well as the Mayans, as they quickly became conquered and decimated by an invading force (wait a minute…). Ko’atal was conscripted into Shao Kahn’s army, and wound up being pretty effective (that whole “god of war” thing really paid off), and was trusted enough to join Jade and be the official guard of Shao Kahn’s newest queen, Sindel. Unfortunately, that whole situation ended extremely poorly (Sindel either committed suicide, or was murdered by no less than three different people, depending on the retkon du jour), and Ko’atal was punished by being sentenced to Shang Tsung’s lab/torture chamber. Also, somewhere in there, every other Osh-Tekk was obliterated, because that’s how Shao Kahn rolls (see also: Reptile). So if you’re wondering where Ko’atal was during the original Mortal Kombat Trilogy or Mortal Kombat 1-9, the answer is “Flesh Pits”, and he doesn’t want to talk about it.

But, in the new timeline of Mortal Kombat 9, Shang Tsung and all his binding magic died sometime around the invasion of Earthrealm. And, shortly thereafter, Shao Kahn was vaporized, too. This led to a new status quo for Ko’atal: he could leave the Flesh Pits! And take a long shower! And after rinsing off, he could serve the new ruler of Outworld, who appears to be… Mileena? Oh, no. That can’t be right. Well, she is technically the heir of Shao Kahn, as he… kind of birthed her… in the Flesh Pits… Hey, do you think she and Ko’atal were neighbors? No? Fine. No whacky Outworld sitcom for this crowd.

Have a heart

Now, the original Mortal Kombat story/timeline dealt with a deposed Shao Kahn once before. In the era of MK 5-7, there was a conflict being fought between the forces of Edenia, led by Sindel and Kitana, and whoever was leading Shao Kahn’s Outworld armies this week (which was usually just the featured big bad). It was all described in biographies, cutscenes, and endings, but the general feeling there was that there was this massive war occurring just off screen, but, since this ain’t Mortal Kombat: Three Houses (everyone in the MK Universe plays on Casual Mode), this huge conflict had to exist in the margins of the story. And, honestly, Mortal Kombat is the story of threats to Earth, not Outworld/Edenia, so it’s just as well that we’re not getting into interdimensional warfare.

However, Mortal Kombat X and the new timeline of the MK universe decided to go in another direction. After a few decades of Mileena continuing to be a complete maniac, Ko’atal splintered off and declared himself Kotal Kahn, challenging Mileena’s right to the throne. And, in an attempt to keep this conflict contained to something that would work for Mortal Kombat storytelling, they decided to hash out their beef with… rap battles.

Okay, disappointingly enough, no one ever raps. However, the story of Mortal Kombat X gives one the impression that Outworld politics are settled via pimps rolling around with their posses and occasionally throwing down in random jungles. And, like all politics, we have marginal reasons for why each MK heavy is backing their candidate. In short, Mileena is running on a platform that Outworld should conquer other realms like Shao Kahn and Onaga before her, and Kotal Kahn is garnering support by promoting the dual beliefs of Outworld isolation and Milenna is crazy-go-nuts coocoo pants banana nutso. So the factions breakdown like so:

Press X

Team Mileena Kahn
· Rain (the Edenian Prince wants to see Edenia’s needs met)
· Tanya (same basic deal, but with less royalty)
· Baraka (Mileena provides a very comprehensive dental plan)
· Kano (still with the dental plan, oddly enough)

Team Kotal Kahn
· Reptile (previously a Mileena acolyte, but ratted out her magic clone origins)
· Ermac (despises Shang Tsung-created monsters, self)
· D’Vorah (enjoys the alliteration of “Kotal Kahn”)
· Erron Black (likes the cut of Kotal’s jib)
· Ferra / Tor (Kotal makes surprisingly good nachos)

… Huh. Come to think of it, when you look at the two gangs, it appears Mileena’s group actually has some common goals, while Kotal mostly has enough of a cult of personality to draw people (/lizards/soul beasts/bug ladies/ogres) to his side. It’s not about Kotal Kahn’s issues, it’s about the man. … And the fact that he’s not a murderous mutant homunculus. I guess that counts for something.

Anywho, much of Mortal Kombat X is given over to the conflict between Mileena and Kotal, and, spoilers, the million year old godling defeats the freaky 20-something monster lady. This happens mostly because Mileena assembled the most worthless team of kombatants ever (Rain? Seriously? Was Kintaro out taking a smoke?), and Kotal had his political rival executed by his creepy bug lady. This means that, by about the middle of Mortal Kombat X, Kotal Kahn is the once and future King of Outworld.

Interestingly enough, this does not promote Kotal Kahn to official bad guy status. Every other Outworld Emperor (or Empress) had a strong urge to conquer the rest of the universe. Kotal Kahn firmly believes Outworld needs some time to itself to find the source of that recurring toilet smell (it’s not Reptile, he checked), and has no real interest in conquering Earthrealm. He only seems to draw conflict from the Special Forces when they interfere in his/Outworld’s unsurprisingly lethal laws (“Oh, did you steal some bread to feed your family? Well, the punishment is you and all your family will be devoured by bootleg animatronic merchandise. Deal with it.”), or when there’s a new Evil God of the Universe rising, and Kotal decides he wants to score some points by falling back on good ol’ sacrifice-based appeasement. Aside from those lil’ misunderstandings, Kotal Kahn is the most benevolent of Outworld rulers.

Have a heart

Well, I mean, benevolent aside from that teensy tiny genocide he committed against Baraka’s entire tribe for backing Mileena. And there may have been one or two other micro-genocides during Kotal’s rule, too. Look, Outworld has a lot of races, and Kotal Kahn is working really hard to get Outworld’s one Waffle House back open, so sacrifices have to be made. It happens.

Mortal Kombat 11 decides to go all in on Kotal Kahn being “the good one” by plucking Shao Kahn out of the timestream and pitting him against Kotal. Now Kotal has to defend his throne against its greatest former emperor (non-dragon division) and a horde of justifiably pissed off Tarkatans. And, since Shao Kahn is friggen’ Shao Kahn, Kotal practically looks like Jesus H. Buddha while stomping around and bisecting various mutants. He winds up reconnecting with his old girlfriend (a time-displaced Jade), learning a valuable lesson about racism (it’s bad), and eventually cedes his claim to the throne to Kitana Kahn, who will absolutely separate Edenia, thus completely negating Kotal Kahn’s entire political philosophy. This might seem like some kind of hasty, slapdash writing to firmly put a win in the good guys’ column and wholly remove Outworld as an interdimensional threat, but Kotal Kahn had also just had his spine snapped by Shao Kahn moments before, so this little plot hole might be more a product of the pain meds kicking in.

Kotal No-Longer-Kahn sees the finale of Mortal Kombat 11 partially paralyzed and broken in more ways than one. Will he return for the next MK Universe? Hey, probably. He’s got a cool hat, and that’s all we ever needed with Kung Lao.

Next time: A creepy (crawly) story.

MKK: The New MK Universe & Skarlet

In the beginning there was Midway, and it was good. In seven days and seven nights (or maybe, like, thirty years), Midway produced some of the most amazing arcade titles on the planet. Midway distributed Space Invaders. Midway distributed Pac-Man. I’m moderately certain Spy Hunter was somewhere in there. Tapper. Gorf. Smash TV. Journey: Not the Journey You’re Thinking Of. Let’s skip ahead to NBA Jam. NFL Blitz. Revolution X: Music is the Weapon. War Gods. Happy Feet for Nintendo DS. Ozzy & Drix for the Gameboy Advance. And, of course, through it all, Midway was responsible for Mortal Kombat and its many, many sequels.

Get 'em George
Happier Times

Unfortunately, Midway blew all its development money on Ozzy & Drix, and they went bankrupt in 2009. This, as you may expect, impacted the Mortal Kombat series. Specifically, this whole “goin’ bankrupt” thing started back around when Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe was happening, so planned DLC for the game, Harley Quinn and Quan Chi, got cancelled due to a complete lack of interest in Quan Chi (and the bankruptcy thing, too, I guess). But! Possibly because Midway Chicago was already working with Warner Bros. Interactive, the WB purchased the remains of Midway Chicago and its IPs. This meant that, finally, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot could cross over with the lucrative The Suffering franchise. It also meant that Mortal Kombat and its kast of kharacters that once uppercutted Superman are now the property of the same dudes that owned Superman, so… hooray? Go ahead and add Sub-Zero to the Arrowverse Multiverse map, nerds.

Watch your nethers

But, crossover opportunities aside, the important result of the end of Midway was NetherRealm Studios. NetherRealm Studios technically started its WB time as WB Games Chicago, but, before that, this team was basically Midway Games Chicago. And who has been the consistent lead of this team? Ed Boon, one of the original four men that created Mortal Kombat. And why is it “NetherRealm Studios”? Well, because NRS predominantly only makes Mortal Kombat games (featuring Scorpion, popular denizen of the NetherRealm). They’ve also got the Injustice franchise, but that is, at its core, MK with a Batman skin. Beyond that, NetherRealm Studios has only ever produced one mobile WWE game and a mobile Batman Arkham City spin-off. The point here? We now have an entire videogame developer devoted to Mortal Kombat, and it doesn’t have to waste resources on maintaining the CarnEvil extended universe.

This is a great situation for Mortal Kombat! Finally, its team can take some time, breathe, and get back to designing the new legends of the Mortal Kombat franchise. We went through some lean, Hotaru-based years back there, and now we’re ready for the titans of a whole new generation. Show us this year’s Sub-Zero, NetherRealm Studios!

DESTROY

Oh, snap, he’s a robot? …. Didn’t you already do that? No? But, didn’t you already do all of this?

Mortal Kombat 9 (officially titled simply “Mortal Kombat”) was the first game produced by NetherRealm Studios (then officially titled WB Games Chicago). At its core, it is little more than a Star Trek 2009-esque reboot of the franchise. As a result, it introduced exactly zero new kharacters (until DLC, where we got one), and the best anyone could hope for was seeing some cyborgs take off their robot suits. From the perspective of someone expecting to make some new friends (and then roundhouse them), Mortal Kombat 9 was a complete disappointment.

On the other hand, Mortal Kombat 9, appropriately enough, was a return to form for the Mortal Kombat franchise. Did you enjoy all of the fighting styles of the previous three (non crossover) Mortal Kombat titles? They’re gone now! Back to four-button face-punching (or kicking). 3-D? Not in this timeline! Back to two dimensions! And do you like fatalities? Because the design team apparently put a premium on its finishers for the first time in the franchise’s history. After two games of “Heroic Brutalities” and supremely generic finishers, we’ve got some really specific buckets of blood being tossed around. There’s also a stage that contains a literal blood fountain! And it has nothing to do with Johnny Cage slashing an artery!

And, while the cast is wholly familiar, the story is appropriately Mortal Kombat bonkers, so we scored another goal there.

Mortal Kombat 9 has been tangentially referenced in the other recaps, but, because your stupid ape brain can only quantify events in a linear fashion, and all future kharacter spotlights will be firmly in this new timeline, let’s review how Mortal Kombat 9 went down.

So, to be clear, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (MK7) happened. And the end result was that literally everyone died except Raiden and Shao Kahn. And, frankly, Raiden wasn’t doing so great against a now mystically-empowered Kahn. So Raiden came up with the bright idea to send a magical text message back to his past self, and the general assumption was that Past-Raiden would be able to instantly understand Future-Raiden because, hey, they’re the same guy, right? And he’s got god-level knowledge, too! Raiden is the guardian of the entire realm of Earth, of course he’s going to be smart enough to figure out a message from his future self.

Unfortunately, Raiden is a blithering idiot. Both of ‘em.

Look out!
Granted, most MK kharacters have had brain injuries at this point

Raiden told Raiden that “He must win.” Raiden assumed that a pronoun would work, but, other than completely disqualifying Sonya Blade, it didn’t exactly help the situation. In fact, Past Raiden following the “He must win” mantra nearly got everybody killed (including a good number of “he”’s). And it all turned out to be some stupid riddle to begin with, and the only explanation for that is that apparently at least one Raiden involved here is suicidal.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s what you need to know about the brand new Mortal Kombat universe:

• “Past Raiden” starts at the top of Mortal Kombat 1. Given he is involved in a fighting tournament featuring almost exclusively men, “He must win” isn’t exactly helpful. And, since Raiden doesn’t have any further future information, he assumes that Liu Kang must win Mortal Kombat. Given that is how MK happened the first time, very little changes at this point in the timeline.

• However, there are a few inconsequential retcons. For instance, Baraka, Nightwolf, and (the human versions of) Cyrax & Sektor participate. Also, Quan Chi, who previously did not appear until MK4, is part of Shao Kahn’s general entourage. He’s currently acting like Scorpion’s manager, and it’s never not weird that mundane karate man Liu Kang has to deal with King Goth of Gothania pirouetting around.

• Also, Raiden tries to bribe Scorpion into not killing Sub-Zero I. But, Raiden? My man? Scorpion is an unstoppable vengeance demon fueled only by his desire to avenge himself upon nebulously blue, ninja-shaped life forms. You would have had an easier time bribing the Kool-Aid man into dodging brick walls.

• Liu Kang wins MK1 like normal, but things start going south during the second Mortal Kombat tournament. For one thing, Jax is slightly more gung-ho about rescuing Sonya in this timeline, so Ermac meets Jax’s enthusiasm by tearing the guy’s arms off.

• Also, Raiden sees a vision of Smoke being captured and transformed into a robot, and rescues Smoke from his cybernetic fate. However, this leaves Sub-Zero II vulnerable, and he’s captured by Lin Kuei forces. So now we have a whole new robot to deal with!

Kitana discovers the dark secret of Mileena (she never got braces), but Kitana does not kill Mileena. In the original timeline, Mileena had to be magically revived to participate in every title past MK2, and Kitana was being pursued by Shao Kahn for her murder. Kitana’s hands are clean in this timeline, but she still winds up on Shao Kahn’s shitlist for being a general nuisance.

Mime!
Obviously, Johnny Cage’s seminal Ninja Mime still happened.

• Oh, and quite crucially, Raiden interprets “he must win” as a call for the brash Kung Lao, not Liu Kang, to win Mortal Kombat 2. Kung Lao does pretty well until Shao Kahn realizes he’s wholly in charge of the tournament, and, when you make the rules, you can break the rules. So Shao Kahn breaks Kung Lao’s neck. Kung Lao becomes the first “real” casualty of the rebooted universe.

• Liu Kang kills Shao Kahn in retribution, and, like before, wins Mortal Kombat 2. However, Shao Kahn is revived about seven seconds later thanks to the ever-pesky Quan Chi. Quan Chi also kicks off MK3 by reviving Sindel. In the original timeline, there was never an exact explanation for how Shao Kahn survived MK2 and revived Sindel for MK3 (a wizard did it… seriously!), so Quan Chi’s presence here is only marginally a retcon.

• MK3 is fast and furious with the retcons and timeline changes. Kabal is now a cop (!) and Stryker’s partner (!). Like before, Kabal is BBQed in the early days of the Outworld invasion, but now it is confirmed that his cybernetics and magical speed powers are the results of Kano and Shang Tsung.

• Raiden screws the pooch by killing the horse. Motaro was Shao Kahn’s dragon du jour for MK3, but Raiden receives a vision of Motaro killing Johnny Cage, so Raiden kills Motaro first. Johnny is saved, but in the absence of his beloved centaur, Shao Kahn decides to kill Shang Tsung, drain his soul bowl, and transform Queen Sindel into her super saiyan form. Queen Sindel is now a boss-class monster (for story purposes, she’s still pretty lousy in actual gameplay).

• Sub-Zero, now a robot, seemingly kills Noob Saibot, who was already dead. It was confusing. But what’s important is that now Noob Saibot is going to have to take a game off to recover. Robot Sub-Zero never gets around to “freeing” his robot brethren like in the original timeline.

• And, since it looks like the good guys are actually winning this war against Shao Kahn, Queen Sindel gets sent to take out Team Good. And she does! Sindel leads an assault on Earthrealm that leaves… let’s see here… Nightwolf, Sub-Zero, Jax, Stryker, Smoke, Kabal, and… probably some other guys… all dead. Oh! Kitana! She’s dead. So is Sindel, in the end. This leaves us with only Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, and Sonya surviving into the fourth quarter.

• This all made Raiden really frustrated with the situation, one thing led to another, and, blah blah blah, Raiden may have killed Liu Kang and left him a particularly well done corpse.

Sorry!
“Sorry about that.”

• But that gives Raiden an idea: why not just give up? “He must win” is revealed to mean that Shao Kahn must win specifically Mortal Kombat 3, because the fights of Mortal Kombat 3 are not an officially sanctioned tournament presented by Mortal Kombat Korp., and, when Shao Kahn “wins”, the Elder Gods call foul, and Shao Kahn is obliterated on a technicality. Shao Kahn is gone forever (thus he can never go on to win Mortal Kombat 7), and Raiden has won Mortal Kombat 3 by the two sweetest words in the English language: default.

• But everybody is still dead, and, thanks to Netherrealm (the realm, not the company) contract negotiations, enslaved by Quan Chi. Only Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage are left standing to represent Team Good.

• And that’s why Mortal Kombat 4 starts with a full-blown Netherrealm invasion featuring Shinnok, Quan Chi, and an army of undead fighters. But that’s a story for next time.

Anywho, what does it all mean? Well, to use up my last few bullet points (I got them on sale at Target, and I want to use them all before they expire):

• Most of the Mortal Kombat old guard is dead. This does not stop them from participating in future titles, but they’re going to be angrier when they do.

• To be completely clear, Shao Kahn, is totally dead. So is Shang Tsung. So they’re not coming back for future titles like in the good ol’ days (or at least not for a whole one game).

• This means that Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, featuring Shang Tsung killing Liu Kang, will never happen in this timeline. And given those events immediately led to MK: Deception and MK: Armageddon, Mortal Kombat 5-7 will not “reboot”, and are not remembered by anyone.

• However, Mortal Kombat 9-11 have confirmed that events from the “old games” could happen again under different circumstances, and any kharacters introduced in those titles are still legitimate… they’re just not participating right now. Hotaru is still out there living his best life.

• And, of course, the timeline veering off into this new direction means there will be all new kharacters introduced in these (mostly) all new storylines.

So get ready for new, never before seen kharacters! … You just have to wait a game for ‘em, because there was nobody new in Mortal Kombat 9.

Blood!

… Well, except Skarlet. She was DLC, and didn’t actually impact the storyline proper, but Mortal Kombat 9 did technically have one original kharacter.

Skarlet is the “red female ninja” to match Ermac (the red boy ninja). Like Ermac, she originally existed as the rumored “fourth female ninja” in Mortal Kombat 2 that could only be accessed by glitching out the Sega Genesis version while licking a dog’s nose and chanting the entirety of Yellow Submarine backwards. Unfortunately, this was only a rumor, and, if a certain dog still looks at me funny when I pick up a Genesis controller, that’s a coincidence. Given (real) Skarlet was introduced well past the point that color-swaps were all the rage in MK, she was designed from the start to merely “evoke” the concept of being another ninja twin, and is not intended to actually be another literal sister to Kitana and Mileena. She’s still one of Shao Kahn’s assassin women, though, so she at least has the same job as the other ladies.

As far as her history, Skarlet was a starving street urchin that was “rescued” by Shao Kahn, and transformed into a blood-mage assassin. Yes, “blood” is a magical element in the Mortal Kombat universe, and, frankly, that makes a whole lotta sense (in the MK universe, people are 80% blood by volume). Skarlet is not a vampire (that would be Nitara), but she does gain unsubstantiated power through drinking blood. But, again, not a vampire, so she presumably eats a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables when she’s not empowering herself with the blood of her enemies. She can also telekinetically manipulate blood, and transform it into projectiles, swords, and balloon doggies (though that last one rarely comes up).

Skarlet also has “bloodhound”-like tracking abilities, and, while you may think this trait would grant her some manner of bounty-hunting-based task for her premiere in Mortal Kombat 9, her official job was keeping track of Quan Chi and determining whether or not he was up to anything untoward. Fun fact: she failed. But her boss was dead by the time MK9 concluded, so she didn’t have to worry about a poor performance review. Skarlet does not appear in Mortal Kombat 10, but she teams up with Reiko in service of Havik for the MKX comics, and her ultimate reward is Milenna chopping off her legs (!) and leaving her for dead. And then she died.

Like most dead people, Skarlet returns as a playable fighter in Mortal Kombat 11. In this case, “future” Skarlet appears to still be dead, but a Skarlet from roughly Mortal Kombat 2 (MK9) steps through a time portal to serve Shao Kahn in her usual bloody manner. But, in a more Avengers manner, she just winds up being “the henchwoman”, and is forced to fight (good, time-displaced) Kitana and Jade a couple of times. She loses every time, and winds up impacting the plot at large slightly less than Baraka. Hell, if she didn’t show up for MK11, she could have been replaced by Reptile, and literally nothing would change.

But at least she came back for one game, thus legitimizing the one original fighter from Mortal Kombat 9. This makes a certain amount of sense though, as it appears the MK franchise had been stockpiling all of its kreative juices for Mortal Kombat 10…

Tasty!
Speaking of creative juices…

Next time: Kill the franchise before it breeds!

MKK: DC Universe and Guests (Part 1)

I’ve been writing about these krazy kombatants for the last six months or so, and, in all that time, you may have noticed I frequently reference nearly all the titles from Mortal Kombat 1-11. But you know what title is continually skipped? Mortal Kombat 8. And you know why? Because Lex Luthor stole it. And that’s terrible.

Let’s talk about Mortal Kombat 8, aka Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe.

Right in the kisser

Mortal Kombat Armageddon was the end of the line for the “PS2 era” of Mortal Kombat titles. After years of fighting styles, questionable character creation, and Chess Kombat, the stewards of Mortal Kombat decided it was time to get back to basics. 3-D? Well, you might be able to dodge sideways, but we’re going to stick to two dimensions moving forward. Multiple fighting styles? Naw, we’re going back to one basic set with plentiful special moves for each fighter. And speaking of fighters, it’s time to pare Mortal Kombat down to the titans that made this franchise famous in the first place, so wave good-bye to Daegon, Chaos Realm, and all the cruft that had accumulated over the previous six years. We are here for Kano uppercutting Raiden, and that’s what we’re going to get.

And, as if offering a guide on enticing fans new and old with gameplay that would otherwise be labeled as regressive, it was decided that the gruesome and violent Mortal Kombat universe would crossover with the world of sunshine and rainbows that is the DC Universe. Superman lives there! And people only have limbs ripped off, like, once or twice a year!

So, from a strictly plot perspective, nothing that happened in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe actually happens. It’s a hoax! An imaginary story! And, frankly, there isn’t much story there to speak of, anyway. Shao Kahn was defeated in one universe at the exact same time Darkseid was defeated in another, and, since some whacky transporter accident was involved, the two villains were merged into the game’s only unique (“unique”) kharacter, Dark Kahn.

Really hot stuff

Dark Kahn… isn’t really anything. He doesn’t have a personality to speak of (he is, like, double evil), and his nefarious plan is the typical “conquer the universes” shtick. However, his mere existence threatens both of his home universes, which, thanks to dubious magical physics, are merging into one universe. This allows for whacky “first encounters”, like Scorpion mistaking Batman for Sub-Zero (dude, get some glasses), or Kano getting jobbed by The Flash (and, unfortunately, not teaming up with Ragdoll). There’s also a “Rage Virus” going around as a result of the realms merging, which serves the dual purpose of pushing some normally pacifistic fighters (wait a minute…) into battling, and evens out everyone’s power levels so Goku can fight Joker on an even keel. It all leads to a pile of crossover battles that culminate with “oh, what am I doing?”, and, in the end, Raiden and Superman team up to separate Dark Kahn into his component pieces. Grand finale: each interdimensional despot winds up imprisoned in the opposite, permanently separated universe. Shao Kahn is trapped in the Phantom Zone, and Darkseid is left to rot in MK’s Netherrealm. … He’ll be ruling the place within a week.

But, again, none of it really “happens”, because it doesn’t have an ongoing impact on either universe. The DC Universe doesn’t particularly note that time Sonya Blade stopped by (and it’s not like The New Gods lost Darkseid to another universe), and Jax isn’t staying up late chatting on pan-universal Skype with Cyborg. Neither universe was actually influenced by the events of the crossover.

Right in the balls

Which is unfortunate, because it’s clear that Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe dramatically influenced the next few Mortal Kombat and DC Universe titles. Midway died, Netherrealm Studios was born of the ashes, and, though it all, the next few MK titles would resemble MKvDCU a lot more than literally anything that had come before. This is the title that rebooted Shao Kahn’s career as the big bad of the franchise (for the first time since MK3), and set Raiden (not Liu Kang) as the big hero. This is where the Mortal Kombat 1 & 2 kast was cemented as the “real” MK roster (of the MK fighters in MKvDCU, only the villainous Shang Tsung and Shao Kahn were not represented in some way in every forthcoming MK title, and that was only for one game). And roughly 90% of the gameplay of MKvDCU went on to be the standard style for not only the Mortal Kombat franchise, but also the DC Universe-based fighting game Injustice. Basically, two whole franchises spawned from this one game that “never happened”.

So, in the grand tradition of the game that never happened being one of the most important titles in the franchise, let’s skip ahead a lil’ and look at every guest fighter in the Mortal Kombat universe. None of these fights happened. Or did they? (They didn’t.)

Hot stuff

We’ve already covered how Mortal Kombat didn’t really cross over with The DC Universe, but it’s worth noting that various MK fighters occasionally wind up in the Injustice universe. Sub-Zero, Scorpion, and Raiden have all guested in that franchise. If you’re curious what they were up to in that universe:

• Scorpion of roughly MK2 was summoned to the Injustice DC Universe by Trigon, the demonic father of Teen Titan Raven. Trigon runs his own hell-universe (though, to be clear, not DC Universe’s Hell, a place that is so delightfully complicated I could write an epic poem about its ridiculous mythology), and summoned Scorpion to join his army. This went poorly, as Scorpion defeated Trigon and took his realm for his own.

Sub-Zero of Mortal Kombat X bopped into the Injustice 2 universe by some cosmic accident, and fought against Brainiac because Sub-Zero hates nerds (even though, secret truth, Sub-Zero has a comp sci degree). Sub-Zero then chilled in the Injustice universe training the next generation of DC Heroes (to be… assassins?), and eventually wound up fighting alongside the good guys when there was a Phantom Zone jailbreak.

Raiden of Mortal Kombat X deliberately travels to the Injustice 2 Universe to defeat Brainiac, because some stupid robot alien dude is apparently a greater threat to the universes than the friggen’ God of Evil. Raiden decides to stick around this universe when Kent Nelson, aka Fate, dies, and reveals that The Lords of Order are trying to destroy everything. So Raiden joins Justice League Dark. He smells better than John Constantine and Swamp Thing, so the team is happy to have him.

During Injustice 2, Sub-Zero and Raiden make distinct references to knowing the DC Heroes, and how “Dark Kahn” was once a threat. This has led some to postulate that the Injustice Universe, a world where Superman went marginally insane and became a super-fascist after the death of his wife and unborn child, is actually the DC Universe that MK crossed-over with in DC Vs., and the reason that the Injustice Universe is doomed to be a fighting game universe full of misery is that the MK fighters tainted this “version” of the DC Universe. However, this hypothesis is absurd, as Injustice 1 clearly establishes that its Lex Luthor and Superman were best friends from their first meeting until the events of Injustice, so the Injustice Universe is entirely incompatible with the Vs. Universe that established that Lex Luthor was always his usual cuss of a self. On a related note, I am a giant, pedantic nerd, and Sub-Zero is coming for me.

Anywho, let’s just assume these MK fighters exist in some sort of micro-continuity where Shao Kahn was trapped in, and then eventually escaped, the Phantom Zone. Also worth noting that Sub-Zero and Raiden have at least one conversation in Mortal Kombat 11 that claims they mutually dreamed of a “strange and unjust world”. So… it was all a dream? Yeah, and Liu Kang is just a butterfly dreaming he’s a karate man.

BANG!

The Joker is the first DC “Hero” to cross back over and fight in the Mortal Kombat universe again. First of all, this isn’t The Joker from the Injustice Universe, because that Joker was killed shortly after tricking Superman into killing his wife and unborn child (man, that universe sucks). And the in-game bio for Joker confirms “he killed Robin and crippled Batgirl”, and… is that canon in any DC Universe at this point? Post-Crisis, Pre-Final-Crisis Joker? No matter. What’s important is that this Joker is distinct from Injustice Joker (another dimension hopper) from a gameplay and origin perspective, so… ugh… Does this mean he was in DC vs.? This gets confusing. What is important is that Joker was apparently used as a gateway to include, via his ending, Havik, Hotaru, and Hsu Hao…

He's back!

So I guess he has a thing for H’s? Is that a Joker trait? Bah! At least this is his first appearance in MK or MK-adjacent materials where he really gets to enjoy the fatalities.
Left handed?

Injustice crossed over with a few other comicbook franchises, and if Sub-Zero can punch ‘em, I’m countin’ ‘em. So let’s take a quick look at Hellboy. Hellboy is the creation of Mike Mignola, and (long story short) the Prince of Hell that abdicated his throne in favor of pancakes. In his home universe, he’s a member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, which basically means that he would gladly beat down the majority of the supernatural MK kast any day of the week. Hellboy’s charm point is his Right Hand of Doom, which is not often used to dispense hugs. His official reason for existence in Injustice 2 is that Brainiac pulled him there from his own universe. That ended poorly for Brainiac. Hellboy then returned home, but got bored with that, too, and decided to go to Africa. This… uh… doesn’t have much to do with Mortal Kombat, but it’s good to know Hellboy could take a thunder god in any universe.

Toitles

Also guesting in the Injustice Universe are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The turtles distinctly hail from another dimension, too, and were accidentally delivered to Injustice Town by Krang. But which continuity of Turtles actually fought against Sub-Zero and Superman? Who the heck knows. There’s definitely some heavy influence from the original animated series here (they gain additional super powers from a pizza provided by Harley Quinn), but Krang is noted as an Utromian, so these are not the hero turtles of Turtles in Time (booo). Whatever the case, the way the individual turtles are all selectable as different “styles” is very similar to the main conceit of Mortal Kombat X (and particularly its DLC fighter, Triborg), so there seems to be more than a little MK DNA in this TMNT appearance. Oh? And their ending? They get super powers from their time in Injustice, return home, and then toss Shredder into a dumpster. Cowabunga.

But the fighters of Mortal Kombat weren’t limited to simply comic book crossovers. Next time, we’ll look at all the other guests in the Mortal Kombat universe. You know, all the ones that didn’t ever have to fight Green Lantern.

Next time: I just said the next time! Geez! Pay attention!