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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: Bo’ Rai Cho & Li Mei

People have a tendency to underestimate how important “special moves” are to fighting game characters. The original Mortal Kombat only had five actors to go around, but they managed to squeeze another two characters onto the roster by dressing Johnny Cage up like a ninja and painting him various colors. And “Blue Ninja” and “Yellow Ninja” could have been forgettable roster-filler, but they wound up as arguably the most recognizable dudes in the franchise. Why? Well, who doesn’t like ice magic? And Scorpion’s distinctive “Get over here!” and fiery skull head leave an impression. Two quickie photocopy characters became the faces of the franchise almost entirely because of their iconic special moves.

BARF

Bo’ Rai Cho has a number of iconic special moves. They mostly involve puking and farting. And he’s the last kharacter from the MK5/6/7 trilogy to see a revival past Mortal Kombat 9.

According to interviews, Ed Boon wanted to see some new body types in MK: DA, and demanded a “slobby” fighter to contrast with the rest of the MK kast (which, yes, all appear to be rejects from the popular film Invasion of the Ab-ulons from the Planet Swole). This makes a certain amount of sense, as Mortal Kombat literally had more reptile fighters than tubby guys. And, while we’re still working on the technology to render anything but a slim, buxom woman on modern consoles, Bo’ Rai Cho’s meaty frame premiered back on the PS2.

And if you’re going to make a character a “slob”, you can’t just let the dude be “thick”, you have to go full hog.

“Borracho” is Spanish for “drunk”. Bo’ Rai Cho predominantly practices drunken fist style martial arts. His most distinctive special move involves vomiting on the floor and causing his opponent to slip. Another of his special moves is the “bump ‘n dump”, and it’s exactly what you think it is. He has a fatality that involves a combustible fart, and it is finished with an exclamation of “That was a wet one.”

Are you not entertained?

But he’s not just one stereotype! Bo’ Rai Cho is not a drunk, but a drunken master. BRC fills the previously unoccupied position as mentor to a number of different fighters (well, at least three), and basically hangs out with Raiden on the “Dad Tier” of Mortal Kombat kharacters. That’s… something?

BARF

To get into the details of Bo’s general existence, we’re looking at an Outworlder that is (for once) not an angry mutant. Like many quasi-humans in the franchise, he’s hundreds of years old, and has been training warriors for centuries. However, he does not train fighters for Outworld, but realms that oppose his home dimension. Why? Well, Bo’ Rai Cho opposes Shao Kahn’s rule, but, were he to compete in an MK tournament himself, he would technically be winning for Shao Kahn. This is because, a while back, his buddy was running for city council, so he registered to vote in his local Outworld municipality, but now he can’t figure out how to change his residential status. It’s a pain in the ass.

But Bo’ Rai Cho did train Liu Kang. It was Bo’ that taught the hero of Mortal Kombat his iconic bicycle kick, and it was that very bicycle kick that saved the Earth on four separate occasions. However, a bicycle kick can’t solve all your problems, and Shang Tsung murdered Liu Kang at the start of Deadly Alliance. Because the events of Deadly Alliance weren’t technically a sanctioned (by the Elder Gods) Mortal Kombat tournament, Bo’ Rai Cho decided to get off his butt and do a little fighting/vomiting of his own to avenge his fallen student. He also trained Kung Lao to defeat Shang Tsung during this time. That worked out really well, because Kung Lao went on to fight Shang Tsung, and only died once. That’s pretty good for Kung Lao!

Bo’ Rai Cho did rescue Li Mei during Deadly Alliance, though, and we’ll cover that little bit of failure during her section. After earning another loser student, Bo’ Rai Cho worked to amass the good (relatively speaking) forces of Outworld against The Dragon King and Baraka’s knife-boy hordes. He was successful in stopping the Tarkatans, at least, but mostly thanks to the reappearance of Liu Kang’s ghost. So, once again, Bo’ Rai Cho’s greatest victory was hanging out with Liu Kang. It apparently doesn’t matter if he was alive or not.

Bo’ Rai Cho… uh.. participated in MK: Armageddon. He helped out the good guys. He died. Then the universe died. I’m probably going to type that a lot in the coming biographies.

BARF

But Bo’ Rai Cho did make a return in the rebooted universe!

Bo’ Rai Cho wound up as playable DLC in Mortal Kombat X. Technically, his “arcade mode” story/bio takes place before the events of the MKX’s story proper. Bo’ is concerned that Shinnok might revive, and is looking for Raiden. That’s a good plan! Unfortunately for Bo’, though, his presence in story mode picks up after he has found Raiden, helps for like ten seconds, and is then mortally wounded by Shinnok. Bo’s current status is unknown, but it’s generally assumed he’s death-farting on the pile of corpses that is labeled “Raiden’s allies”.

And, yes, of all the fighters introduced in Mortal Kombat 5,6, and 7, only Kenshi, Frost, and Bo’ Rai Cho ever make another playable appearance. Though we do get one extra Deadly Alliance story cameo in Mortal Kombat X. Let’s look at Li Mei.

Look away!
(Face modeling was not easy on the PS2)

As far as conception goes, Li Mei is Bo’ Rai Cho’s polar opposite. It seems she was designed to present well (a conventionally attractive woman that looks fit and prepared to fight), but her story positions her as a novice in the world of martial arts (which is the only thing that matters in the Mortal Kombat universe). Unfortunately, unlike Bo’ Rai Cho, her designers forgot to hang any sort of hook on that setup, and Li Mei’s special moves (and general moves, for that matter) are wholly forgettable. She comes from the hazy “fireball and a jump kick” school that saw so much success for Johnny Cage and Liu Kang, but, as a random “support” kharacter (and not one of the towering heroes of the piece), that just isn’t going to cut it. Without a flaming skull or the ability to puke on command, Li Mei almost instantly fades into the halls of forgotten Mortal Kombat fighters.

Li Mei at least has a moderately interesting origin concept: she’s supposed to be your average Outworlder. After a series of games where it seemed like the only residents of Outworld were sword-mutants, lizards, and filthy wizards, Li Mei was introduced as simply your average Outworld villager. And, as you might expect, that’s a pretty crappy situation to be in. Li Mei and her entire village was enslaved at the start of Deadly Alliance, but, knowing exactly how prisons work, Li Mei knocked the tar out of Kano on her first day. This drew the attention of Quan Chi, who decided that Li Mei would gain her freedom if she won the loose tournament that was the Deadly Alliance epoch. She got a little training from Shujinko (we’ll get into that goober next game), and went on to do pretty well! She did so well, in fact, that Quan Chi and Shang Tsung decided to transfer her soul into a random immortal corpse for use in the Dragon King’s army. She was not happy with that outcome. And that, in the business world, is known as the Peter Principle.

Going down?

But Li Mei was rescued from her lethal promotion by Bo’ Rai Cho, because MK is not going to let a sexy lady model go to waste in a corpse Bo’ Rai Cho is a good guy. Li Mei’s soul is returned to her body, but it seems some of the dragon soldier taint came along with the transfer, so now Li Mei is less “naïve neophyte” and more “bloodthirsty revenge monster”. This didn’t change a thing about her boring special moves, but it did mean she traded in her old duds for some (sexy lady shaped) armor. And she got a sword! And her MK: Deception ending revealed that, had this version of Li Mei been allowed to flourish, she likely would have gone all-in on the whole “evil and serving the Dragon King” thing. That never happened, though, as Li Mei earned the dubious honor of being kanonically the first fighter to die at the start of MK: Armageddon. This was the event where literally everyone died, but, hey, good to have someone designated as first in line.

Li Mei does pop up in Mortal Kombat X, though. She’s not a fighter, but she does lead her village from Outworld to Earthrealm when a magically empowered Mileena threatens her people. Cool! And, in a weird dimensional echo, she once again jobs Kano, this time by ratting him out for being a weird, shifty dude with a robotic eye. This leads to the Special Forces capturing the fugitive Kano, so thanks, Li Mei, you didn’t even need a battle bikini to be useful in this rebooted universe. Cheers all around!

Still not great with faces

Of course, most people probably didn’t even recognize that Li Mei was supposed to be anybody when she made her little cameo, so she really only gets partial credit. Maybe if she had some more special moves that involved farts she’d have made the DLC cut.

Next time: Dragons of a different color.

MKK: Mileena & Jade

Saiya

What we’ve got here is a clear “evil twin” situation. Mileena is a genetic abomination resulting from Shang Tsung mixing Kitana’s DNA with presumably some random Tarkatan (Baraka’s race) DNA. As a result, she is a perfect clone, save the eensy weensy caveat that her face is about 90% teeth. Interestingly, this is the only aspect of her Tarkatan DNA taking hold (perhaps save Mileena’s bloodlust… though in this universe, that’s extremely relative), and extremely convenient arm-blades were left in some DNA that fell to the bleeding room floor. But Millena picked up a pair of sai to compensate because someone read Frank Miller’s Daredevil and Kitana and Mileena are just Elektra with the serial numbers filed off, and, at her introduction, she’s ready to be Shao Kahn’s #2 assassin.

And then Kitana killed her, because who hasn’t killed their evil twin at one time or another?

In the new timeline, Shinnok and Quan Chi were able to conscript nearly the entire kast as killer zombies, as pretty much every fighter was dead by the end of Mortal Kombat 3 (redux). In the original timeline, though, the kharacters were a lot more indestructible, so they were left with the dregs of Sub-Zero I and Mileena. Sub-Zero was transformed into shadow wraith Noob Saibot, and Mileena… well, nobody felt like modifying Kitana’s sprite past changing her swimsuit’s color, so Mileena stayed Milenna. She participated in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 as a hidden character (not coincidentally returning with the same update that included her sister), and was officially an undead ghoul that looked/operated exactly like her original, slightly more alive initial appearance. It was also revealed during this time that she had a one-way telepathic door into her sister’s thoughts… and then that was never mentioned again.

Saiya

Since Shinnok decided to invade Earth during Mortal Kombat 4, Mileena was allowed to participate when Kitana showed up for Mortal Kombat (4) Gold (seeing a pattern here?). Again, Mileena spent most of her time trying (unsuccessfully) to kill Kitana, and then Kitana managed to Bugs Bunny her sister down a trap floor. Mileena thus retained her “mostly alive” status (Noob Saibot continued to be a shadow monster, while Mileena stayed just a regular monster), but was locked away for quite a while in a dungeon that smelled way too much like Kano.

Milenna had to sit out Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance while Mario was busy rescuing toads in other castles, but she returned with a vengeance (as always, literally) during Mortal Kombat: Deception. Kitana had amassed quite the amazing army during her time as a princess, but, unfortunately, she was knocked off by Quan Chi during the finale of DA. Unfortunately for her forces, though, none of the good guys at the scene survived long enough to email a proper obituary to the Outworld Times (“All the News That’s Fit to Print in Blood”), so no one was particularly aware of Kitana’s untimely death. Baraka, obviously bored and horny, broke Mileena out of jail at this time, and Mileena instantly hatched a fool-proof plan to impersonate her sister and effectively rule Edenia and Outworld’s “rebellion” armies. All she had to do was wear a veil literally all the time, and if anyone called her on this unusual fashion choice, she’d just explain that… I don’t know… she had a really embarrassing goiter? And then she’d have Baraka kill the curious cat. And if anyone questioned why she suddenly had Baraka hanging around all the time, well, you better believe that’s gonna deserve another visit from Baraka. There probably wouldn’t be any questions after that.

Beyond the veil

And you know what? Mileena was a pretty good Kitana. That makes sense, though, right? Kitana was great at her job, and Mileena is her exact duplicate, but also an undead creature with a heaping helping of monster warrior DNA. She managed to take back Shao Kahn’s fortress, and effectively conquered the whole of Outworld… about seven seconds before Shao Kahn made his triumphant return. Mileena immediately capitulated to Shao Kahn the instant he returned to “her” throne room, and Mileena dropped the Kitana act to become Shao Kahn’s henchman again for the first time since Mortal Kombat 2. Thus, Mileena was firmly on Shao Kahn’s side for MK: Armageddon, which turned out to be a great choice, as Shao Kahn actually won that tournament. Yes, Mileena died again, and, of course, the universe got rebooted, but sometimes it is nice to be on the winning side.

Oh, incidentally, Mileena’s (non-kanon) ending for MK:A features Mileena gaining Kitana’s normal human shape, and Kitana being “cursed” with Mileena’s signature choppers. This leads to Mileena becoming a content ruler of Edenia/Outworld, and Kitana going crazy in a dungeon. Is Mileena only a monster because she looks like a monster? Or, in a game where most other kharacters get endings involving gaining god-like abilities (and/or f^%&ing centaurs), are the writers of Mortal Kombat leaning a bit heavily on the whole “all women just want to be pretty, and are homicidally jealous if they aren’t” trope? Something to think about until the end of this paragraph!

Bloody

Okay, stop thinking about Mileena and her place in feminism, it’s time to think about Mileena and her place on the sexometer. Mortal Kombat 9 was a dedicated reboot for the franchise, and an opportunity for some hardcore advertising campaigns to the degree of “Mortal Kombat’s back, baby!” In addition to touting itself as the most Mortal Kombat-est Mortal Kombat in Mortal Kombat history, the deranged minds behind Mortal Kombat (‘s advertising campaigns) decided to play up the sexiness of Mortal Kombat through an extremely muddled, sex-based campaign featuring Mileena. On one hand, you had renders of Mileena straight up appearing in Playboy. She was mostly naked, save her veil and a pair of sai covering her naughtiest bits. Then, the game itself made a point of retkonning Mileena’s “birth” to take place during Mortal Kombat 2 (redux), when her original backstory put her at a few centuries old (like her sister). This, of course, meant that “just born” Mileena could appear in a “costume” that was basically a few strips of cloth tied around some key places. This alternate costume was available to the player through some fairly intense earning-requirements, and, when unlocked, awarded the trophy titled “Best…Alternate…EVER!" Basically, Mortal Kombat 9 was full-on horny for Mileena, which coupled in an extremely uncomfortable manner with her in-game biography:

“Shang Tsung has created many abominable creatures in his Flesh Pits, but none so twisted as Mileena. A fusion of Edenian flesh and Tarkatan blood, Mileena is both beauty and beast. This dichotomy has made her mind unstable; she is prone to fits of madness and savagery. Though she has the appearance of a mature woman, she is more child than adult–a blank slate conformed to Shao Kahn’s will. Devoid of conscience or remorse, Mileena will butcher anyone to appease her beloved father.”

Oh, the game’s prime sex object has the mind of a child and excessively loves her abusive daddy. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go take an angry nap.

Mileena Kahn

Anywho, aside from generally menacing Kitana (as usual), Mileena didn’t really accomplish much besides inspiring some confusing boners during Mortal Kombat 9. As what seemed to be a karmatic apology from the universe (of MK writers), Mileena became the official ruler of Outworld after Shao Kahn was vaporized by the Elder Gods during MK9’s finale. Mileena was technically created to be Shao Kahn’s heir, after all, so it does make a certain amount of sense that she’d be next in line for the throne. And apparently she got over that whole “mind of a child” thing just in time to be a fairly ruthless dictator with a posse of Shao Kahn’s various goons. Unfortunately, her good luck runs out right about when Mortal Kombat X gets going, as she is quickly betrayed by Reptile (who witnessed her “birth” in the flesh pits and likely only stuck around so long out of respect for her mouth’s similarity to a t-rex ) and then Ermac (who continually proves to be kind of a jerk). Kotal Kahn then seizes control of Outworld, and Mileena is left with Team Scrappy Rebellion That Will Eventually Betray Her, which includes noted traitors Tanya, Rain, and Kano. In a shocking turn of events, Mileena is betrayed by, like, everybody, and is eventually killed via a Kotal Kahn-ordered, bug-based death kiss. Mileena was so happy she finally managed to use Outworld sorcery to grow some lips, too!

Aside from a Mortal Kombat X (presumably non-kanon) ending that states Mileena’s soul could migrate to a spare Mileena body, Mileena seems to spend the rest of the “new” Mortal Kombat Universe’s existence as a non-participating corpse. Oh well. At least she outlived Kitana this time!

She has a ninja turtle weapon, too

The final “sister”, Jade is one of three hidden kharacters featured in Mortal Kombat 2. She was (theoretically) the easiest to battle, as she simply required winning a lone round using only low kicks during a specific match. After that, a green version of Kitana/Mileena would appear, and, if you managed to beat her… uh… congratulations? Yay, you fought and beat a hidden fighter, time to move on to Kintaro. Compared to the hype surrounding a certain other green ninja, Jade seemed rather perfunctory, and the “least” of the newly introduced crop of color-swapped weirdos lurking in the shadows.

And, frankly, Mortal Kombat 3 did little to rectify this situation. Jade did not reappear until MK3’s first revision, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, and was reintroduced as Kitana’s personal bodyguard turned body hunter. Jade was tasked with bringing in Kitana (for the murder of Mileena, natch), but decided to squelch out on the deal with Shao Kahn to team up with Kitana against her other pursuer, More Popular Green Ninja. Thus, Jade was defined for all future appearances as Kitana’s best friend, and, were the Mortal Kombat universe a sitcom, Jade would be overweight (or at least “Hollywood overweight”) and would continually make racey comments about Liu Kang (“I don’t know about you, girlfriend, but I’d sure like to see his animality!”). That is her entire role in the kanon: Jade does not return until Mortal Kombat: Deception, and she’s only there to avenge the death/zombification of Kitana. And then, with Kitana revived for MK: Armageddon, Jade… just kinda helped. That’s it. Even her ending is just like “uh… she saved the world… and everyone loved her. The end.”

Super best friends

Mortal Kombat 9 saw Jade go through the same MK1-3 BS again (work for Shao Kahn, “watch” Kitana, quit job because girl power), with the significant change that Queen Sindel managed to rip Jade’s heart out before the end of Mortal Kombat 3 (redux). To be clear, that was not metaphorical, and an undead Jade joined Kitana and the rest of her buddies as the undead hordes of Hell.

Jade finally got her own personality in Mortal Kombat 11, when a time-displaced Jade drops into the present and reveals that she used to have a thing with the current ruler of Outworld, Kotal Kahn. Jade was introduced in 1993, and, finally, 26 years later, earns another personality trait beyond “is friends with Kitana”. Mind you, all this really does is establish that Jade likes boys (who are routinely mistaken for literal gods), but that’s more than we had before! She gets her own featured chapter out of this development, but it’s predominantly just about how “young/naive” Jade is a lot less bloodthirsty than “old/grizzled” Kotal Kahn, a guy who literally drinks blood. Jade seems to soften Kotal Kahn a tweak, but it is once again Kitana who steals the limelight and ties off all the Kotal Kahn business.

Sorry, Jade, we can’t all be as successful as a cold-blooded reptile man.

Jade!

Next time: There’s fire.

MKK: Baraka

Mortal Kombat 1 took place on Shang Tsung’s magical karate island, a wonderland of fists that you would likely see in any “kung-fu movie” from Kentucky Fried Movie to at least seventeen Bruce Lee features. Mortal Kombat 2, however, was meant to showcase Outworld, the realm of Shao Kahn, Shang Tsung and, most importantly, Goro. Outworld had to be a fantastic land to feature such fantastic creatures, so, naturally, the architects of the Mortal Kombat franchise quickly defined the realm as one giant toilet.

So purple


Outworld features fabulous purple, barren landscapes. It contains acid pits and flesh pits. There are deserts aplenty, pointed mountains, and forests full of freaky-faced trees. While it has never been confirmed in-game, it is naturally assumed that Outworld smells like the ass end of an ass. People ride giant bugs through the sky. There is, like, one Waffle House, and it’s been closed for “repairs” since 1997. You do not want to spend any time in Outworld.

However, a lot of different races live in Outworld. Shao Kahn may have been trying to conquer Earth for (at least) the last 500 years, but he was actually successful in conquering other dimensions. As a result, Outworld has become a veritable melting pot of eclectic cultures and people (all trying to kill each other). Residents of Outworld include:

· Outworlders – Your basic human-esque race, but extremely long-lived, and with a greater affinity for magic. Basically elves without the ears.

· Edenians- Same, but they’re officially the conquered race of Outworld.

· Wizards- Fuggin’ wizards are their own race in Outworld, and it’s illegal to not hire a wizard just because they’re a filthy wizard.

GORO!

· Shokan – Goro’s race of four-armed people that have not yet mastered the ability to produce shirts. They are occasionally described as half-dragon or half-tiger, but are all into ponytails.

· Centaurians- Motaro’s race of centaurs. Sometimes they’re satyrs, because they’re going through some stuff.

· Zaterrans- Reptile’s race of… uh… reptiles. They’re mostly extinct, but Reptile is right there, so I think they count.

· Vampires- You’re damn skippy this franchise has vampires running around. Apparently Mortal Kombat vampires are only allergic to Earth’s sun. It seems relevant at this point to ask if ol’ Purple Outworld even has a sun. That arena stage might just have really good lighting…

· Osh-Tekk- Oh, wait, they must have a sun, because they have kinda sun gods running around. The Osh-Tekks are basically the gods of the Aztec culture, and they gain power from the sun (apparently any sun) and blood (conveniently found all over in this universe).

My heart!

· Sub-Zeros- Sub-Zero and Frost’s ancestors come from Outworld. They’re not around anymore, but they’ll probably pop back up in MK Mythologies: Sub-Zero 2: The Next Day.

· Kytinn- Insect people that work pretty much like the xenomorphs of Alien, but are, like, bugs. This is my worst nightmare, and if it is not yours, I don’t want to know what’s going on in your head.

· Naknada- Like the Shokan, but six arms, and a lot more scrawny. Though we’ve only ever seen one Naknada. It’s possible the other Naknada are buff as hell, and Kollector is just the runt of the litter.

· Dragons- Onaga the Dragon King was the ruler of Outworld before Shao Kahn, so dragons are official denizens of the realm for tax purposes.

· Whatever the hell Ferra and Torr Are- A symbiotic race where a lil’ dude rides a bigger dude and together they fight crime. Or make it.

I don't like these guys

And then we have the Tarkatans, the race introduced in Mortal Kombat 2 to further cement the “Outworld is not a vacation destination” thesis of the title. Tarkatans are all over the place on the ol’ “what’s this race’s deal” map. On one hand, they’re generally portrayed as blood-thirsty monsters that are animalistic enough to be driven into murderous rages over bottled pheromones or a Black Friday sale on knife sharpeners. On the other hand, they have their own language, are capable of using “Earth weapons”, and are widely regarded as the absolute best soldiers in Shao Kahn’s army. And their origins are equally confusing: they’re either the result of human/demon breeding, or they’re their own thing from a realm Shao Kahn conquered long ago. Meh, let’s face it: the Tarkatans are whatever the plot needs right now.

And, true to his Tarkatan heritage, Baraka is equally mutable. Baraka appeared in Mortal Kombat 2 as a fine representation of Shao Kahn and his less-than-photogenic army… but didn’t really accomplish much. He killed some monks in the prologue, and apparently there were some rumors of Baraka attempting to overthrow Shao Kahn with Milenna, but Mileena wound up dead before that plan could go anywhere. Baraka then returned for Mortal Kombat (4) Gold (not coincidentally only being proto-retro-dlc in the final game that required a motion capture actor to don a skin-tight face mask), and did the exact same thing: worked for Shinnok, and planned to betray him, but never got around to it.

Is that another Baraka?

Baraka then started working for the Dragon King in Mortal Kombat: Deception (once again, Baraka took a game off to wax his arm blades), and teamed up with Mileena (now alive again) to actually be a faithful minion for once. The duo attempted to deceive and exterminate Kitana’s forces on behalf of the Dragon King, but Liu Kang’s ghost and Liu Kang’s master beat back the Tarkatan hordes. Thanks to the overwhelming boredom of not betraying anyone for a solid thirty seconds, Milenna then attempted to kill Baraka, but Baraka sent another Tarkatan in his place, and Milenna is kind of racist anyway, so it all worked out (for Baraka, the other guy got gutted).

Baraka was officially killed during MK: Armageddon, as Kung Lao finally avenged his fallen monk buddies from Mortal Kombat 2 by slicing Baraka in twain.

Mortal Kombat 9 retkonned Baraka into being a Mortal Kombat 1 participant… but he was defeated by Johnny Cage almost immediately. Then he got beat up by the (still human) Cyrax. Then he was trounced by an old lady wielding a basket full of kittens. He got to kill those monks again, though! And then he got jobbed a few more times before not even bothering to show up for the rehash of Mortal Kombat 3. He went out for a pack of cigs while the other Tarkatans ran around with the centaur dude. Better use of his time.

Such nice teeth you have

In Mortal Kombat X, Baraka is a loyal servant to… am I reading this right? Oh, wow, Milenna actually finally got somewhere with her whole power lust thing, and she’s ruling Outworld with Baraka by her side. And then he gets killed by the bug lady. But it’s okay! He was replaced by a xenomorph with all his powers, so Baraka is still with us in spirit.

Baraka The Younger and Less Dead returns through a time-hole in Mortal Kombat 11. He learns that, since Mortal Kombat X, Kotal Kahn, the new ruler of Outworld, committed outright genocide, and every last Tarkatan is dead because Baraka supported Milenna. Ouch. Luckily (for Baraka), the Time Baddie of MK11 decides to timeport the Tarkatans back to the future, and Baraka has some buddies to hang out with between battles. And, recognizing a ruler he could almost certainly betray later, Baraka decides to join up with (time-displaced) Kitana to overthrow (time-displaced) Shao Kahn. Together, Baraka and his people join the final siege on the Time Boss that is the only reason his race even exists at all. Luckily, there is no reckoning, as the universe reboots yet again about seven seconds after Baraka gets off the boat.

In conclusion, if you need someone for your heroes to beat up, please remember the Tarkatan race. Baraka is here to help.

Like a porcupine

Next time: Mortal Kombat 2 means 2 playable ladies.