Tag Archives: kabal

MKK: Havik & Kira & Kobra

The final realm (or at least the last one that we’re looking at) that was created for Mortal Kombat: Deception was Chaos Realm. This realm is to stand in opposition to Order Realm, and is supposed to be a wacky, crazy universe where ducks have law degrees, clam chowder marries a fish, and health care is feely available. Unfortunately, the good folks at Mortal Kombat Korp. weren’t feeling particularly creative on the day Chaos Realm went into production, so it mostly looks like a Final Fantasy continent threw up on a graveyard. Rocks float in the air, the residents are aggravatingly religious (“Have you heard the good news? Wiggle waggle wizzle, chaos is the shizzle.”), and there are a strangely high number of teleporters scattered around. It’s chaotic, but predominantly “chaotic” in a way that is less “from the unparalleled imagination of Moebius” and more “it’s 3 AM and I’m tired, let’s bang out this realm and hit the 24 Hour Diner and Pet Shop over on Poplar Ave.”

And from this glorious realm hails Havik, Cleric of Chaos. Havik is chaos incarnate. Or he’s just a walking corpse. It’s one of those.

I think he snapped

Havik is supposed to embody chaos, but it’s telling that his behind-the-scenes creation started as merely an alternate skin for noted undead monster Noob Saibot. Havik’s general look is that of a walking corpse. He also utilizes a number of moves that involve impossible contortions, prominent bone snapping, or somehow restoring health through playing dead. In short, Havik’s special move oeuvre is less “chaotic” and more “what happens if someone already dead is fighting?”. And, don’t get me wrong, that’s a pretty interesting hook for a fighter (particularly in a franchise where another character’s hook is “has a hat”), but it does seem like a loss when a true “Cleric of Chaos” style fighter would likely be closer to something out of Darkstalkers. We already have Darkstalkers, Mortal Kombat! They did it better! They did it years ago!

And Havik’s general plan in the universe is “chaotic”, but that same brand of dime-store chaos that is usually reserved for GI Joe villains. Havik came upon Kabal, the former Black Dragon and sensational character find of Mortal Kombat 3. Kabal had been murdered by Red Dragon Leader Mavado, and Havik decided to revive Kabal because, of all the dead Mortal Kombat kharacters across the franchise, Kabal seemed most likely to do something chaotic. Mind you, this was only because Kabal’s intentions and personality were so poorly defined in his initial outing, he was practically a Dragon Quest protagonist, but, hey, works for Havik. Kabal was revived and tasked with creating an all-new, No-Kanos-Allowed Black Dragon clan. Sure! Sending some random cyborg dude to create a fresh band of thieves sounds pretty chaotic, but I’m pretty sure that’s something that could have been done without reviving a dead burnout. Whatever the case, Kabal capitulates, and Havik leads the New Black Dragons into battle against Onaga. Yes, to be clear, this “chaos” minion was firmly on the side of the angels, as, according to Mortal Kombat law, anyone distinctly fighting against the final boss of the tournament is a good guy. Except it was all a ruse! Havik just wanted a chaotic final battle, and, in the ensuing whaddyacallit, Havik would devour Onaga’s heart (!), and gain the ability to revive any dead guy he wanted. I mean… uh… I guess reviving Kabal took too much MP? So he had to get a new source of Phoenix Downs? It’s kind of weird when a dude starts his tenure in a franchise by bringing someone back from the dead, and then it turns out they’re fighting to gain the power to bring back the dead. Maybe that’s the most chaotic thing of all?

I think he snapped

Whatever the case, Havik doesn’t wind up accomplishing his (surprisingly orderly) plan. This, ultimately, is just fine, as everyone in the Mortal Kombat universe is alive again in time for Mortal Kombat: Armageddon anyway, and what was even the point of gaining a life spell if everyone is already immortal? Like his Order Realm frenemies, Havik is stuck with the base plot of “Havik love chaos, Havik hate order, Havik hungry” in MK: A. He doesn’t do a damn thing in the overall plot, but he’s probably missing that immortal dragon heart pretty bad by the time he and literally everyone else is dead.

Havik technically doesn’t return in the rebooted MK universe (like some of his contemporaries from Deception, the best he can hope for is a non-kanon cameo in an ending or two), but he was the main villain for much of the Mortal Kombat X comics. Long story short, he’s back to his old “reviving random dudes is chaos” ways, and he’s trying to bring Shinnok back from the brink of nonexistence. He doesn’t particularly succeed (that honor goes to Shinnok’s other minions in the main game), but he is responsible for an Onaga-esque plan that involves collecting magical trinkets from across realms and tricking some poor shlub (Reiko!) into doing all of his dirty work. In the end, his patsy is destroyed by his own hubris, and Havik is decapitated by Scorpion. Interestingly enough, the vengeful Scorpion was playing dead during his battle against Havik, so ol’ chaos champion fell for one of his own special moves. Maybe dramatic irony is the most chaotic thing of all. Havik survived his beheading (what does death mean to a creature that is so kuh-razy?), but Quan Chi wound up obliterating Havik’s severed, still-talking noggin. That’s likely as definitive an end as Havik can hope for.

But what happened to Kabal and his new Black Dragons? Surely someone cares about the new crew of thieves that Kabal cobbled together inside of five minutes (seriously, Mortal Kombat: Deception happens immediately after Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, so Kabal did not have much time to find the cream of the crop). Well, whether you care or not, I’m going to tell you about Kabal’s newest Black Dragons anyway.

Stabby

Kira is the first recruit. She was an arms dealer that sold weapons to terrorists, but terrorists in post-9/11 stories are terribly sexist, and Kira had to butterfly knife her way out of a scrape or two. This attracted Kabal’s attention, because “weapons sales” was like the one viable revenue stream available to the original Black Dragons. The fact that Kira was also a decent fighter was simply the cherry on top of the homicidal sundae.

Unfortunately, Kira is basically the worst possible version of herself. Kira was introduced in a game where both Kano and Sonya were assumed dead. This allowed Kira to arrive with special moves and fighting styles that previously belonged to Kano and Sonya. And there could be a cool story there! Kira could be Sonya’s previously unmentioned daughter that was kidnapped and raised by Kano! Or Kano could continue to be a giant weirdo (reminder: this was the period when Kano kept a lock of Sonya’s hair as a necklace), and he cloned his hated enemy and raised her like his own spawn! Or she could be a previous student of Sonya that defected to join Kano and the Black Dragons! One way or another, there could be a really interesting story hook available for a fighter that combines traits from two rivals that have been diametrically opposed since the franchise’s creation. And… there’s no answer given. Kira just happens to fight like a combination of Kano and Sonya, and… that’s that. I guess she just figured out how to turn herself into a human cannonball from Youtube videos.

So Kira is Kabal’s first recruit, and she does exactly nothing after her introduction. Like Baraka, she seems to exist as a general mook in the story modes of MK: D and MK: A, and that’s all she wrote. Later, the first female playable Black Dragon was actively patched out of the rebooted Mortal Kombat universe, as she originally appeared chained up in the background of one stage in MK9, but was removed in a later update because ????. Kira’s current whereabouts are unknown, but, wherever she is, she’s probably not living up to any kind of potential.

This dork

Kobra is Kabal’s other recruit (yes, the Black Dragons is a gang of a whole three people. Is it any wonder Kano decided to go solo?). Kobra is… Man, could there be more of a placeholder kharacter in all of the franchise? He’s a street fighter. He learned martial arts, found out he liked killing with martial arts, and decided to just be a homicidal fighting man. Kabal recruited him because he knew he lived in a karate-based universe, and this was the only karate dude not already involved in the tournament. And that’s all Kobra’s got. He never accomplishes anything, and he winds up dead in most of his endings.

Oh, and his production name was “Ken Masters”, because no one had any illusions about how this kharacter was a clear case of plagiarism. But which specific kind of plagiarism?

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The world may never know.

What’s next? The deception is over, it is time for Armageddon

MKK: Mavado & Hsu Hao

Mortal Kombat Special Forces nuked the Mortal Kombat franchise. This fact was not lost on the producers of the next MK game to come down the pike, Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance. While Jax and Sonya were always going to be iconic heroes in the franchise, the villains of the piece, Kano and the Black Dragons, needed to be punished (why is Kano smiling?). Someone had to pay the price for leading that trash, and it may as well be the gang that was already a bunch of losers.

And if there’s one thing Mavado is good at, it’s punishing losers.

SPROING

To explain Mavado (original design name: Malvado Q. Badguy), we have to look at the two crime syndicates of the MK universe: the Red Dragons and the Black Dragons. The Red Dragons were started thousands of years ago by a wayward immortal godling that was starting his incredibly convoluted plan to eventually take over the universe(s) and show his brother that mom loved him best. That dork gets an entire game to himself, so we’ll cover that nonsense later, but for now just know that the Red Dragons have been around for a long, long time (and there was an actual dragon involved). And in that time, they earned a reputation of… not having a reputation. In a move that shows just how stealthy and professional they are (and is not at all a complete asspull used to explain why no one had ever heard of these dudes before MK: Deadly Alliance), the Red Dragons operate in complete shadow and subterfuge, so even entire organizations tasked with their eradication don’t know for certain that they exist. They are ghosts, and not big silly braggarts like all those ninja clans running around. Red Dragons are the real deal, and they’re so much better than any Black Dragons you may have heard about.

In fact, the Black Dragons used to be Red Dragons, but the two clans split sometime around the early 1900s (and MK lore actually claims this was thanks to real-life dude Morihei Ueshiba, who threw in with a [real] Japanese nationalistic political party… the Black Dragons). There isn’t much of an explanation for the split, but the official word is that the Red Dragons wanted to remain secret and elusive, while the Black Dragon faction wanted to be out and proud. So, basically, it was a managerial disagreement over the marketing department. It happens. Whatever the case, a hundred years later, Kano wound up leader of the Black Dragons, and Mavado was the leader of the Red Dragons. They had apparently maintained an uneasy truce up until around the time of the first Mortal Kombat when Kano kind of disrupted the alliance when… Okay, I’m not going to get into details, but long story short, Kano had this overweight St. Bernard, loaded it up with hotdogs and laxatives, and then invited the puppers to the Red Dragon HQ. It was unpleasant for everybody, and Mavado never forgave the wannabe cyborg for the transgression (and the fact that they had to buy a whole new couch, and Mavado really liked that couch). Mavado vowed to kill every last Black Dragon.

SPROING

And, ya know what? He didn’t have to try very hard at that. Turns out Mortal Kombat tournaments and Kano’s piss poor management style (uh, he literally pisses on poor subordinates) had whittled down the Black Dragon ranks to a mere two members. Actually, it was just one member, as MK3’s Kabal had officially left the organization of his own accord. This didn’t matter to Mavado, though, as he killed Kabal anyway, and took his signature hookswords as a prize. This left Kano as the only surviving Black Dragon member (/leader/treasurer/janitor), and Mavado decided to step out of the shadows to end the Black Dragons once and for all. Mavado struck up an alliance with Shang Tsung to kill Kenshi in exchange for Kano’s whereabouts (and, spoilers, Kano was also on Shang’s payroll).

So Mavado joined the fray for Deadly Alliance. As befitting a debonair and elusive criminal, Mavado attacked primarily with… slinkies. They’re fun for a girl or a boy! Okay, technically he’s supposed to have some kind of “grappling hook” thing going on for his signature moves, which is supposed to be evocative of cat burglars and alike. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite come across in his moves or animations, and what we have here is less Batman’s trusty grapple, and more like Dampé’s stretching, shrinking keepsake. Mavado, complete with black trench coat and most-competent thief ever backstory, seems like he was conceived to be the coolest cat in the franchise (after they ditched the whole “matador” angle that appeared in some design documents), but failed at the finish line when all his best moves were more appropriate for Clayfighter.

SPROING

So Mavado didn’t survive Deadly Alliance. He was successful in nearly killing Kenshi (at least wounding him to the point that he wouldn’t decapitate Shang Tsung this week), and the Deadly Alliance was true to their word, and handed over Kano. Mavado escorted Kano to his natural habitat (a dungeon), and then… died. Mavaod’s previous prey, Kabal, was revived by a random chaos cleric (is there any other kind?), and extracted a revenge on Mavado that was so complete, Mavado’s corpse appeared as part of Kabal’s bio screen. That really should have been the end of Mavado, but he did return for MK: Armageddon, as literally everyone returned for that game. There, he died again, for the final time.

Mavado hasn’t been seen since in MK proper, but he did appear in the MKX comics. He’s still got a major mad-on for Kano and all Black Dragons, and he largely sneaks around the borders of the story as a tricky, scheming criminal. And then he makes his appearance known to the heroes… and Cassie Cage bisects him with his own hookswords. Hey! Guess he still had one more death left in him!

While we’re talking about Black Dragons, we may as well cover Hsu Hao. Hsu Hao is one of Mavado’s subordinates, and the man tasked with infiltrating Jax’s Special Forces, and pointing any investigations away from Red Dragons, and squarely onto Black Dragons. So far, so good, right? Pretty typical story here: the mole. The viper in the garden. The criminal that is so good at infiltration and deception that he has successfully tricked the forces of good into believing that….

Wait a tick.

I’m sorry, it’s this guy?

Right in the glowys

Holy crap, Jax. You guys trusted a bloke with a glowing weakpoint on his chest? I mean, dude, I don’t want to sound racist or anything, but don’t do that. You hire a jackass with a shining, red cybernetic on his chest, and you’ve clearly hired a boss monster. And you know what boss monsters do? They fight you! They blow up your base! Who the hell is in charge of hiring at Special Forces?

Whatever. Hsu Hao, possibly because he was the worst double-agent ever, possibly because of his lame "wrestling" fighting style, or possibly because his design was kind of vaguely racist from the get-go (is he seriously yellow?), is one of the most hated and ignored kharacters in the franchise. John Vogel, half of the Johns that developed the first Mortal Kombat, almost pulled a Poochy by stating during MK: Deception’s development that Jax killed Hsu Hao, and that’s kanon, and he’s never coming back. He, of course, did return for MK: Armageddon, but he has literally no plot, and he’s theoretically only there for completion’s sake.

Hsu Hao did resurface in the Mortal Kombat X comic. He got in a pretty good sneak attack on Kenshi, and was then immediately speared in the weakpoint by Scorpion. Dude never had a chance. His corpse cameos in Mortal Kombat 11 as a head in a bag.

Right in the glowys

And, give or take the previously mentioned founder of the Red Dragons that is introduced in MK:A, Hsu Hao is the only other named member of the Red Dragons in the franchise. Way to establish that team of champions, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance! Let’s just stick to ninja next time.

Next time: Bloodsuckers and boogey men

MKK: Stryker & Kabal

What better way to introduce Mortal Kombat 3 than with Kurtis “The Strike Man” Stryker, the most hated of all Mortal Kombat kharacters?

He's got a gun!

Mortal Kombat 1 was a fighting tournament on a private magical island. Mortal Kombat 2 was a fighting tournament in a private magical dimension. Clearly, it was time for Mortal Kombat 3 to enter the “real world”. The excuse for Shao Kahn’s invasion of Earth was confusing (he lost MK2, but he decided to invade anyway thanks to a marital reconciliation), but the end result was obvious: Mortal Kombat was now taking place in the real world. Shang Tsung’s machinations were no longer confined to a secret fantasy location, now kombatants could duke it out on city streets and subway cars. And don’t worry about crowds! Shao Kahn sucked the souls out of nearly every living thing on Earth, so real estate prices have never been lower! And if you’re concerned about a few stragglers, don’t worry, Shao Kahn has a plan for that, too! He’s dispatched an army of malevolent centaurs to eliminate any remaining souls, and, let me tell you, the average human is not equipped to deal with a centaur. In so many ways!

And Stryker? Stryker is not equipped to deal with anything.

Stryker was based on a pretty basic character concept: what if normal guy? It’s a common trope (particularly in sequels): you’ve got a bunch of crazy martial artists and lizard people and robot people running around, why not introduce someone that is supposed to be the everyman? Stryker cannot hurl fireballs, he just has a gun and some grenades. Stryker doesn’t understand bicycle kicks, but he can propel himself with his baton. And he might not be able to tear his flesh mask off to reveal a flaming skull, but he does have a load of TNT, and that counts for something! On paper, Stryker seems like a pretty great idea, particularly for a game that is trying to make a splash by entering “the real world”.

He's got a gun!

Unfortunately, in practice, Stryker sucks. First of all, we already tried two “normal” people, and they were pretty grenade-adjacent to begin with. Sonya and Jax may have gained some mystical and metal powers along the way, but they were (right from the beginning!) fine examples of “average” people thrown into unusual, kung-fu-based circumstances. Second, we were just coming off Mortal Kombat 2, which featured new kharacters that were about 80% murder mutant by volume. We lost the guy with swords for arms for a fighter that could best be described as “kinda paunchy”? Really? And, let’s be real here, Kurtis Stryker is a cop, straight-up a NYPD officer, and it’s pretty safe to say that we had all been listening to NWO for a solid seven years at that point. I’m not saying everybody hates cops, but let’s just note that that’s one real-world profession that can be… divisive.

And Stryker’s actual story during Mortal Kombat 3 wasn’t exactly winning anyone over, either. Stryker was the leader of the “Riot Control Brigade” when Shao Kahn invaded, and then, once everyone rode the Soul Train straight into captivity, Stryker was left alone in a depopulated NYC. And what did he do? Well, if you win the tournament with Stryker, it reveals that Raiden told him what was up, he attacked Shao Kahn, and because Shao Kahn was not expecting some loser in a baseball cap, Stryker saves the world with a nightstick. But, spoilers, it’s kanon that Liu Kang saved the day, and Stryker did absolutely nothing. And how much nothing did he do? Well, it is revealed through Stryker’s MK: Armageddon biography that ol’ Kurtis spent the entirety of MK3 confused and wandering around (empty) New York. Did he fight anybody? Maybe! But it is 100% kanon that Stryker had absolutely no idea what was going on during the entirety of Mortal Kombat 3. And, oh yeah, Stryker did not appear for every game between MK3 and MK:A (effectively MK7). What was he doing during the interim? Who the heck knows!

He's got a gun!

Actually, Stryker’s absence is something worth noting. If you look at the playable kast of previous Mortal Kombat games (or just these longwinded biographies), you will note that every playable kharacter from Mortal Kombat 1 & 2 routinely gets a “check-in”. As an example, Baraka might not be in every Mortal Kombat game, but when he is absent, there is an explanation for his nonappearance. Baraka wasn’t in Deadly Alliance because he was learning to knit, and then the titular Deadly Alliance was not able to pay him for 50,000 new sweaters upon their death, so Baraka is now back with a vengeance. Scorpion is always going to show up, but even when Kitana takes a game off, you learn why she is missing (she’s usually dead), or what she was doing (being dead, getting better).

Stryker gets no such courtesy. Why was Stryker missing from Deadly Alliance? Nobody cares. Why did he decide to rejoin everyone for Armageddon? Not a single soul cares. Stryker has no complicated web of kharacter relationships with the rest of the fighters; he’s just kind of there. And that’s that! Moving on to the next, hopefully more interesting kharacter!

And, unfortunately, starting here in Mortal Kombat 3, Stryker winds up becoming the norm. Give or take an albino wizard or blind swordsman, most of the new kharacters from this point on are ignored by the grander kanon at large. Arguably, it’s a chicken and an egg situation: are they not referenced much because they didn’t become popular, or are they not popular because they were never very important to begin with? Who knows! Stryker sure doesn’t, as not knowing a damn thing is pretty much his thing.

He's got a zombie!

Anywho, the Stryker of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon was supposed to be a super “tech” cop, essentially building on the idea that he was a representative not necessarily of the common man, but of the sheer force of “mundane” equipment from Earthrealm (or just the one guy who decided to bring a gun to a fist fight). Mortal Kombat 9 retold/revised the story of Mortal Kombat 3, so that Stryker returned with an emphasis on being a “normal” cop again, though this time with the caveat of Stryker being promoted to “action movie cop”. He’s ordinary, but he’s the kind of ordinary that is the hero of Die Hard or Speed (which his in-game biography distinctly notes as “previous cases”). Yes, the implication is that Stryker is somehow Bruce Willis and Keanu Reeves rolled into one. However, that wasn’t enough to make Stryker interesting and/or alive, so, when this Stryker is actually informed of what the hell is happening, he joins the good guys, and is then immediately killed. Stryker, like his friends, joins the undead army of Quan Chi, and becomes one of those zombies that is always there, but isn’t popular enough to get a spot on any future rosters. Stryker was last seen “laying down cover fire” for other Quan Chi minions, so his power, even in death, is still just “has a gun”.

Oh, and Stryker was voiced by Ron Perlman in the animated series, Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm. It somehow still wasn’t enough to bolster his popularity, so I wouldn’t hold my breath for any MK11 Stryker DLC.

Scary!

And here’s the other thing that started happening in Mortal Kombat 3: kharacters that were never meant to be kharacters.

Kabal was initially conceived of as a Star Wars rip-off mixed with another, slightly different Star Wars rip-off mixed with a droid. Initially, Kabal was named Sandman, was a “desert nomad”, and was vaguely cyborgian with a mechanical breathing device and wrist-mounted buzzsaws. Unfortunately, “Sandman” lost the buzzsaws for all but a weird special move, gained hookswords (which apparently had been part of an early Baraka concept), and held on to his vaguely Tusken Raider-esque aesthetics compliments of some generic metal parts. Kabal was born as a mysterious warrior that had barely survived Shao Kahn’s extermination squads, and, like Scorpion’s original Mortal Kombat 1 origins, was an enigmatic fighter hiding beneath a mask that hid his true intentions (yes, there was a time when Scorpion’s whole “he’s an angry skeleton” thing was a surprise). In fact, complete with Scorpion being absent from initial Mortal Kombat 3 versions, there’s a lot of evidence that Kabal was intended to be the “next” Scorpion in the franchise (the other evidence being that OG Kabal was overpowered as hell).

Unfortunately, while Kabal had a really unique design and interesting abilities (he can run really fast and generate static electricity), his biography was sorely lacking. “Mysterious warrior” is pretty great for an arcade attract screen or strategy guide bio, but it doesn’t exactly have (super-powered) legs going forward. His ending filled in a few blanks, though, and revealed that he, like Kano, was a Black Dragon thief. But! Having been changed by nearly being killed by a mythological creature, he decided to turn his life around, and would become a champion of good, putting his hookswords into the faces of criminals across the globe. Yes, coming so close to death truly changed Kabal, and now, with his new lease on…

He's got a great hook

Oh, wait. That would be right about when he died.

Kabal was a cool kharacter to look at… but it seems like the MK designers wanted a do-over by the time of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. Kabal was always supposed to have a cape, and his hookswords were pretty cool, so those items went to an all-new kharacter: Mavado. Mavado was our introduction to the Red Dragons, the high class alternative to Kano’s Black Dragons (who, it should be noted, are rather notorious for peeing on furniture). Mavado’s introductory biography mentioned that he murdered Kabal for his weapons (hookswords don’t just come with any old action figure), so the message was clear: the Black Dragons are dead, and Mavado is here for a brand new day.

And then Kabal killed Mavado right back. I guess Mavado wasn’t all that popular!

Kabal returned from the dead for Mortal Kombat: Deception. Literally! Havik, who holds the official Splatfest rank of “Cleric of Chaos”, resuscitated Kabal. Havik presented a mission to Kabal: go forth, and revive the Black Dragons, because… uh… Kano doesn’t have enough friends? Whatever. Kabal, despite admitting that he hadn’t even checked the Black Dragon livejournal page since Mortal Kombat 3, agrees to revive the Black Dragons with a gusto usually reserved for free buffalo wings. At Havik’s behest, he ventures forth to create an all-new Black Dragon organization, but this time, with blackjack! And hookswords!

Kabal recruits two new members over the course of Deception: our first actual Black Dragon woman and that guy from Karate Kid (the one with a youtube series). This was a pretty… uh… passable reboot of the Black Dragons, and Kabal’s gang probably would have blossomed and flourished… had the universe not rebooted immediately thereafter in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. Start again!

He's got a great hook

Now, the reboot of Mortal Kombat 1-3 in Mortal Kombat 9 offered an interesting opportunity: we might actually get to see Kabal before he became a cybernetic weirdo! And we do! At the start of the Mortal Kombat 3 portion of Mortal Kombat 9, we meet the latest version of Kabal. And he’s a cop! And a good one, apparently! He’s Stryker’s partner! And this is confusing for anyone that was expecting a Black Dragon thief in Kano’s employ. Whatever! Super Cop Kabal doesn’t last long, though, as Kintaro burns his face off (literally) during the Outworld invasion of Earth. And then we get the origin we all expected: a combination of Kano’s technology and Shang Tsung’s magic revives Kabal to be the sandman we all know and love. How was Kabal revived in the original timeline? Who knows! But what’s important is we’ve got Kabal back, and he’s going to be a good guy right from the beginning! He rejects his revivers, and… dies immediately afterwards. … I wonder if he’s used to that by now.

So, (and I’m almost done with kharacters to whom this applies) Kabal becomes a zombie in Quan Chi’s army, and spends Mortal Kombat X as an annoying (NPC) revenant. Kabal is still an aimless undead with a respirator in Mortal Kombat 11, but he’s also his younger self, who has earned another retcon. Now, yes, Young Kabal is a cop without a first name, but he’s also always been a cop on the take from Kano. So, see? He was always a Black Dragon! Again! Young Kabal earns the honor of being Kano’s #1 Not-Kano henchman, and his only contribution to the plot is fighting Young Sonya once. He loses. Thanks for coming by, Kabal.

He's got a great hook

So, long story short: young artists, if you come up with an interesting physical design for a character, maybe nail down that backstory at the same time. It will make you a lot happier in 20 years. Trust me.

Next time: The culture wars