Review: Mortal Kombat X#1 by Shawn Kittelsen & Dexter Soy

Mortal Kombat x #1

Written by: Shawn Kittelsen
Art by: Dexter Soy
Cover by: Ivan Reis And Alex Sinclair
Colored by: Veronica Gandini
Lettered by: Saida Temofonte

Published by: DC
Cover Price: $.99

Note: This is a review of the digital version which can be found on Comixology.

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

I actually still remember the first time I played Mortal Kombat. There was a little bodega by my house, and if we had an extra few bucks, we would play whatever arcade games they had set up. Street Fighter 2 and it’s infinite variations were typically the most popular.  One day, they put in a new game called Mortal Kombat. I remember being really impressed with the graphics at the time. The characters almost looked like real people. And then of course, there was the blood and the ridiculous fatalities. This was something I had really never seen in a video game before.

Since then, I have played pretty much every Mortal Kombat game. The series has definitely had it’s ups and downs, but on a whole, I think the franchise had held up well over 20+ years. Even though I have played just about every game, I will admit, I don’t know all the in’s and out’s of the lore all that well. Mortal Kombat seems to keep accumulating characters, factions, and worlds to the point they actually needed their own New-52 style reboot in the last game. So, I was definitely curious to see what this comic was going to be about.

Summary (contains spoilers): This issue starts many years ago in the Himalayan Wilderness. We see Kenshi running with a child clutching tightly to his back. Someone is shooting arrows at them. Kenshi turns and lauches a sword cracking with energy at the arrows.

He soon realizes that is a terrible way to fight arrows and ends up with one stabbed through his leg, allowing his pursuer, Hsu Hao, to catch up to them. Hsu Hao accuses Kenshi of betraying the Red Dragon. Their leader, Daegon, has ordered Hsu Hao to kill Kenshi and the boy. Kenshi uses telekinese to hurl his sword at Hsu Hao and tells the boy (Takesha) to run.

Takesha runs through the woods and crashes into a large masked Red Dragon soldier. The soldier points to a scar on his face and says Takesha’s dad did that to him. Takesha defiantly says, “I don’t have a dad.” The soldier decides to sell the boy to slavers in Outworld. Suddenly, the soldier is impaled by Scorpion’s spear.

Meanwhile, Kenshi has fallen before Hsu Hao. Hsu is mocking him when he gets a spear through his chest too. Scorpion tells the other Red Dragons to leave as they are trespassing in Shirai Ryu territory.

Later, Scorpion, Kenshi, and Takesha arrive at a Shirai Ryu temple. Kenshi is surprised to find a large number of warriors training there. Scorpion reveals he had recruited them by seeking out warriors who had lost their families in the Netherrealm War. He tells Kenshi “You helped me out of the darkness, now I help them.” Kenshi tells Scorpion that Takesha is his son. Red Dragons had murdered his mother and Kenshi had rescued him. Scorpion recognizes Takesha as “another survivor.”

Kenshi tells Scorpion that he plans to go after Daegon for revenge. Takesha overhears Kenshi telling Scorpion that Daegon murdered his mother. Takesha runs off. Scorpion catches up to him and says, “Shirai Ryu do not run, we fight.”

Later, at a Red Dragon temple in China, Sub-Zero leads a massacre on the Red Dragon, seemingly searching for “an old knife.”

He has come to recover the weapon at Raiden’s request. Sub-Zero is attacked from behind by Kano who also wants it. He calls the weapon the cursed dagger of Kamidogu.

Review: I will admit, I kind of groaned when this issue started with Kenshi and Hsu Hao. I have no real problem with Deadly Alliance, but I have a much bigger attachment to the original characters.  That said, the story was immediately engaging.   Why was Kenshi running?  Who was the boy with him?  Why were the Red Dragons chasing him?

Another major concern I had going in to this one was “are they going to downplay the gore that is such a trademark of Mortal K0mbat?”  From the moment Scorpion first appeared, it was clear that would not be an issue:

So, while I went into this book with some major concerns, but the end of the issue, I had gotten over most of them.  By the end of the issue, we did get plenty of classic Mortal Kombat characters in Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Kano.  All in all, it was a real strong balance between new characters and lore with old characters and lore.

This was definitely a real good look into the Mortal Kombat universe, and seems to have gone a long way towards setting up the next game, Mortal Kombat X.  I do wonder if DC is going to make this prologue drag out for a long time after the game has already come out…like they are doing with Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Dexter Soy’s art looked great here.  I loved the expansive mountain shot the issue started on, and the action scenes were great.  I also loved the more gory moments like Scorpion impaling random Red Dragon goon and Hsu Hao.  They also did a nice homage to the X-Ray moves from Mortal Kombat (2011) when they show an arrow stabbing into Kenshi’s thigh bone.  It definitely looked and felt like Mortal Kombat!

There were a few small things that bugged me about this comic.  One was Kenshi trying to defend himself against an arrow storm by throwing a sword at them.  But, since this foolish strategy didn’t work, I give writer Shawn Kittlelsen credit for that at least.

I also can’t help but wonder if I would have any interest in this book if it wasn’t Mortal Kombat.  At it’s heart, it a fairly generic story.  I honestly am not sure whether that is a fair way to consider a licensed book or not.   I did enjoy what it gave us, and that really should be enough.  So, pick it up if you are a Mortal Kombat fan.  If not, I am not sure there would be any reason to even give it a second look.


Title: Mortal Kombat X #1
Written By: Shawn Kittelsen
Art By: Dexter Soy
Company: DC
Price: $.99
Pros:
  • Great balance between newer characters and the classics.
  • Doesn’t bog the reader down in lore.
  • Terrific arc
  • Lots of pages for less than a buck.
Cons:
  • Who defends themselves from an arrow barrage by throwing a sword at it???
  • Not sure it would hold any appeal to someone who wasn’t already a Mortal Kombat fan.
Is it worth your $.99? 8.5/10 – There was a lot of things going on in this comic, and it was 27 pages long.   Marvel keeps launching new books at $4.99 for a first issue, which is a terrible way to engage new readers…even with the extra pages.  Mortal Kombat X launched at 99 cents and gives you a far better value.

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