Next up on the Mortal Kombat tour is the 3-issue series Rayden and Kano. Definitely an interesting pairing. In fact, it almost seemed like a poor man’s Cable and Deadpool, with the over-powered hero god and his odd relationship with a less-powerful, vile criminal smartass. On one hand, I did like the story of this arc. On the other hand, two of the three issues were done by one Kiki Santamone. Fuck.
So Kano gets broken out of prison and is punished by the Black Dragon. He escapes his death sentence, but blacks out. Raiden has him taken to his pad, where Kano awakens to meet Raiden’s servants, two Asian ladies named Wynd and Rayne. I’d give props to Raiden for that, but at no point do we get to see art that makes them look like more than ugly, lumpy freaks.
Kano, being Kano, charms the two of them into disgust and violence. Raiden appears to calm everyone down, as he offers Kano both a way out of his inner-darkness and a sword called the Ebbonrule. Kano’s first reaction is to attack and stab Raiden. Raiden, a god of lightning and such, shows that that isn’t the smartest decision Kano’s ever made.
As Kano smokes and simmers, Raiden explains what the Ebbonrule sword is. Many years ago, Outworld was ruled by an evil creature known as Draxxon, the Black Dragon. He had an evil lackey named Caan, who strongly resembled Kano, down to the lack of his right eye. Raiden sensed nobility deep inside Caan and one day convinced him to wield the Ebbonrule against Draxxon. The Ebbonrule, as it turns out, is powered by redemption, so by turning his back on evil, Caan was able to take apart Draxxon. Caan then lived a long and fulfilling life.
Something about the story sparks interest in Kano, as well as the idea that Raiden would actually show trust and belief in him. He shakily shakes Raiden’s hand and agrees to help free Outworld from Shao Kahn’s tyranny. The two take off into Outworld, with Raiden carrying Kano towards Kahn’s castle.
Kahn realizes what Raiden’s up to and gets so super-pissed that he wills Raiden to explode in mid-air, sending Kano to fall. That’s a pretty sweet power to have.
Kano lands pretty roughly and finds himself in the Living Forest. He is immediately challenged by Reptile. But with the Ebbonrule in hand, Kano kicks Reptile’s ass pretty soundly.
This is when Scorpion appears with his army of the dead. Scorpion had become Shao Kahn’s newest general and was given a special gemstone that allowed him to control the dead. Therefore, he has a near endless army of bone warriors at his disposal. Interestingly enough, this concept was reused in the equally bizarre Mortal Kombat Saturday morning cartoon series.
Kano does pretty well against the army, but once Scorpion gets involved, Raiden shows up to help. Yep. Apparently, Raiden willed himself back together or something and tells Kano to go run off and take on Shao Kahn.
Kahn is weak from his attempt to destroy Raiden and insists that Mileena and Reptile leave him to his fate. Kano barges in and stares down Kahn. But as we know, Kano never did turn into a hero in the Mortal Kombat games and he sure as hell didn’t slay Shao Kahn at any point. Nope, Kano admits that part of him wants to do the right thing, but he and Kahn had a deal.
Kahn destroys the sword and grants Kano a limited supply of his power. As the “God of Evil”, Kano flies off to destroy the one man who trusted him. The final issue includes a fight between the two in the sky that seems to last for hours. Once Raiden starts to hold an advantage, he’s attacked out of nowhere by Smoke and Jade. Smoke and Jade were characters introduced in MK2 as secret characters, neither one having a story at the time. With that as the case, the two are written as companions who fight to make up for their failures as Shao Kahn’s henchmen.
They try to fight Raiden, but Kano disposes of them, insisting that Raiden is his to destroy. As this happens, deep inside Kano feels the burn of the point of no return. What hurts isn’t that he didn’t go through with it, but the question of whether or not he could have. Meanwhile, Kahn and Mileena watch on while Kahn regains his strength. His original plan was to humiliate Raiden, but with Kano so powerful, he might have a chance to destroy him for good. Even if Kano fails, Kahn will be powerful enough to finish Raiden off himself.
Back in the sky, Kano grapples with Raiden underneath a portal. It’s here that we see, for once, something resembling good nature in Kano.
Kahn is furious, of course. Kano tossed Raiden back to Earth and now Kahn can’t kill Raiden. Kano insists that it was a mistake and he didn’t know of Kahn’s plan to destroy Raiden.
While stripping Kano of his powers, Kahn narrows his eyes. “Didn’t you? I wonder…”
Raiden returns to his home and muses with angst. Kano failed in destroying a great evil, yet allowed Raiden to survive so he can continue to fight evil. Raiden starts to fear the idea of universal balance. No matter what Raiden does, the balance of good and evil will always be even. Much like Kano’s evil waned from the ordeal, Raiden begins to lose faith in himself.
Next let’s take a look at a one-shot issue called Mortal Kombat: Baraka. With Scorpion and his army of the dead at Shao Kahn’s disposal, he no longer has need of Baraka and his army of mutants. Baraka, in turn, has joined a motley crew of MK characters out to create a revolution in Outworld. The other members are Kitana, Kung Lao and Sub-Zero.
What’s interesting about this is the trade of roles. Traditionally, in the game’s storyline, Scorpion is considered the good guy in his feud with the first Sub-Zero. After all, it was Sub-Zero who murdered Scorpion in the first place. Scorpion was the anti-hero and Sub-Zero was more of a tragic villain. Here, Sub-Zero is doing something for the good of civilization while Scorpion is Kahn’s flunky. This will come into play more towards the end of the series.
The story of this issue has to do with a mutant who dies escaping from an army of skeletons. Baraka defends the mutant, but the guy dies on him. He leaves Baraka his baby Nania, insisting how she is their last hope. Baraka, confused, carries the baby through the harsh environment of Outworld.
Having pulled away from his allies shortly before, Baraka has no idea where to take the child. Before long, he is attacked by more skeleton soldiers. He beats them all easily, but in the confusion, Scorpion steals Nania. Baraka tries to fight him, but Scorpion simply teleports away.
This is when Baraka gains a new ally. The mysterious Noob Saibot — who also lacks anything resembling a storyline at this time — shows up to lend a hand.
And also, raise the roof.
Noob explains some jargon about how he hangs out in the shadows and knows a bunch of cryptic crap. The baby Nania is supposed to grow up and be a strong being of good or some nonsense. The two team up and attack Scorpion. Scorpion probably shouldn’t have teleported like fifty yards away. Couldn’t he have run off with the baby to Italy or something?
Noob protects Nania as Baraka destroys Scorpion’s Deathstone gem. As it shatters, Scorpion freaks out because he knows what kind of nasty crap Kahn is preparing for punishment. Kahn summons Scorpion away just as Baraka runs him through with his claws. Noob thanks Baraka for his role in the ordeal, but vanishes with Nania. Baraka sadly wanders off, feeling alone and without the greatest thing he’s ever had to fight for.
These last two storylines were side-stories, though. The meat and potatoes of the time was the six-issue Battlewave. This takes place after that phantom MK1 tournament I mentioned last article. I say this because it begins with Kahn and Kintaro screaming at Shang Tsung for Goro’s supposed death.
Goro turns out to be alive, of course. As Jax has a private workout session, Goro shows up and beats him half to death with a barbell. This is exactly why you’re supposed to have a spotter.
Liu Kang is still tight with Johnny Cage and talks to him regularly. But even though Liu Kang has conquered Goro and Shang Tsung, he’s still plagued by RANDOM NINJA ATTACKS!
You think I’m kidding (or not. You’ve read this far), but there are scenes where ninjas jump out of nowhere and attack Liu Kang. They never even explain who they’re working for or why they’re plaguing him.
Liu Kang later enters an office (I have no idea what his day job is, exactly), only to find the guy he was supposed to meet with dead and Goro sitting behind his desk. Goro starts dominating Liu in a fight, but then a new player steps into the field: a really large, bald man with a three-piece suit, fedora and sunglasses.
“My name’s Bo. I’m Johnny Cage’s personal bodyguard. And he asked me to fly up and keep an eye on his boy, Liu Kang.”
I’ll be honest with you. I really dig this character design and wouldn’t have minded seeing him in an actual game (One Year Later note: totally making Bo in MK: Armageddon’s Kreate a Kharacter mode). Plus I liked the idea of Johnny Cage anticipating the type of evil crap that would be out to kill Liu after becoming king of the mountain.
Bo withstands Goro’s brute force, but before he can fight back, Liu knocks Goro out the window with a flying kick.
Later on, the two are annoyed by yet another RANDOM NINJA ATTACK, though this time the ninjas are joined by a big rock creature named Henge of the Nightmare realm. Despite his neat appearance and introduction by wailing down on Bo, he’s immediately knocked out by Liu Kang, never to be heard from again.
Stuff happens with other characters too, of course. Sonya berates Cage for caring more about finishing his movie than helping avenge Jax’s beating. Smoke and Jade try to finish off Jax at a hospital, but he gets back up and fights them both off. Sonya and some Special Forces guys find Shang Tsung’s island and get slaughtered by Kintaro. Before knocking her out and stealing her away, he tells Sonya that Shao Kahn has special plans for her.
Johnny and the injured Jax get together to figure out what happened to Sonya and the extras. They fly over Shang Tsung’s island on a small plane. Suddenly, Smoke and Jade appear on the plane for a fight, because when you get your ass beat by a man on life-support, it’s best to have a rematch when he’s slightly healthier and he has backup. I should also point out that they decide to give Smoke a seriously stupid catchphrase throughout the series.
Yeah, I get it. Just like that one guy says in the game. Hilarious.
There are only five issues left to go through, including three more issues of Battlewave, so I’ll save those for next time. Also next time: one of the rockingest death scenes ever.