Malibu Kombat: Part Gold

October 2nd, 2006 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We’re almost done with the Malibu MK series. When we last left our heroes, Sonya was kidnapped by Kintaro, who claimed Shao Kahn had plans for her. Liu Kang and his new friend Bo defended against ninjas that repeatedly came out of the fucking blue. Johnny Cage and Jax were challenged by Smoke and Jade on an airplane. And Bullwinkle signed a contract to be a lounge singer, not realizing that his agent is really the nefarious Boris Badenoff!

Oh yeah. That too.

Smoke and Jade try to attack Jax and Johnny with their own strategies. Smoke uses the strategy of turning into pure smoke while Jade uses the strategy of having her tights hiked way up her buttcrack. The heroes counter this by making a couple Gone with the Wind references before knocking them through a hole in the plane. That… might make more sense if you read the comic.

The plane is still going to crash, but Raiden shows up to save them, fresh from his disappointment with Kano, mentioned in the last article. They leave towards Outworld. At the same time, Liu Kang and Bo are on their way to a secret portal hidden in a mountain’s chasm. On the way, Bo is attacked by Siang. He’s still alive, sorta. Also probably jealous that Bo is getting a better role in the story than him.

Sonya tries to fight her way out of Kahn’s fortress, but is instead cornered by a smiling Shao Kahn who gives her a big speech about how she should join him and become his bride. I say go for it. Think of how much swag you could get when you divorce him.

There’s also a little side-story at the end where Goro reappears in Outworld, where he and longtime friend Kintaro get in a brawl. Then they just laugh it off and go back to the castle. That does make the big Goro vs. Kintaro cover for the issue look like a big letdown.

In the next issue, we go back to Siang. He’s about to finish off Liu Kang and Bo in Outworld, when Raiden, Johnny Cage and Jax arrive. Man, what are the odds that all these characters always end up under a mile away from each other in these situations?

Liu Kang gets the truth out of Siang. After Goro tore him apart back in Blood and Thunder, Sing woke up hours later, barely alive. With Sang dead, he figured it would be a good idea to merge with the corpse. Siang went to Outworld and tried to regain his honor against Shao Kahn, but Scorpion’s Deathstone (which controls dead warriors) kept him under control.

Liu Kang reacts with, “Then come with us to fight Kahn.” Because, you see, Liu Kang is mentally retarded.

Using Reptile’s brainwashing techniques, Shao Kahn finally turns Sonya into his mental slave. Dressed in a white wedding dress (who knew they had such exact ritual similarities in Outworld?), Sonya stands there like a vegetable, waiting to be married. It seems that if Kahn can marry her, it’ll allow him to take over Earth. Personally, I think if they just kidnapped a prostitute from Detroit and paid her in smack, they could’ve pulled it off with far less complication. Kahn is in such a good mood, that he reveals Shang Tsung, who has been granted back his youth.

The ceremony begins, and as a joke, Kano is the one who gets to give Sonya away. The art here scares the crap out of me, because Shao Kahn’s fist is bigger than Sonya’s entire midsection. She is in for a metric world of pain come the honeymoon.

Liu Kang crashes the party, shortly joined by a bunch of others. Raiden, Siang, Johnny, Jax, Bo, Baraka, Kitana, Sub-Zero and Kung Lao show up over the next few moments. Siang tries to attack Goro, but Scorpion still has a shard of the broken Deathstone. Just enough to keep Siang under control.

A large brawl breaks out and Sonya overcomes her conditioning. She attacks Shao Kahn, who only starts laughing. He decides that there will be a final conflict between good and evil. He teleports the characters away in two groups to take part in his own little game.

Something still seems awfully wrong about having Baraka playing for the heroes.

It all comes to a head in the 50-page comic Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition II. The plot is that Kahn has planted a medallion with the MK dragon symbol on a snowy mountain. The two teams must race each other to the symbol. Once somebody grabs it, his or her team wins.

Immediately, the overuse of standing around and talking causes Baraka to lose his patience. He starts fighting his allies. Jax tries to stop him, but gets his arms sliced up in response. Raiden zaps Baraka down, but the damage has already been done. This is, of course, the foreshadowing for Jax’s MK3 appearance, where he has metal arms. This is almost well-done until they toss this in.

Yes, thanks for that.

There’s a scene in here where Kitana confronts the team of Reptile, Shang Tsung and Mileena. She gets into a fight with Mileena while Reptile and Shang run off. It’s a testimony to the writer’s lack of grasp on the idea of continuity, when we see Kitana standing with her teammates in the VERY NEXT SCENE.

Well, I guess they needed another excuse for a Kitana thong-shot, so I can let it slide. But there isn’t much of an excuse for why they’re letting Baraka roam around like that.

Some bad guys show up to fight and Raiden takes them all on. He explodes in electricity and shocks them all, thereby destroying himself. Again, foreshadowing for his lack of presence in MK3. Johnny still knows that Raiden will return one day. The villains aren’t quite finished, but the heroes have enough of an advantage to win the battle.

Scorpion and Siang travel together to reach the prize. Scorpion is confused by Siang’s aura, as he appears both living and dead. Siang tells Scorpion of his backstory and it seems that Scorpion is touched. He destroys what is left of the Deathstone and allows Siang freedom.

As Siang is overjoyed, Scorpion impales him with his fist and tells him, “Only the dead are free.” What an asshole.

There is a scene of Liu Kang, Johnny Cage and Bo vs. Shang Tsung, Jade and Reptile. The villains win at first, but due to Shang and Reptile in-fighting, Bo takes advantage and brings down Reptile. Still, he has a broken arm and is exhausted, so everyone in this scene is about taken out of the game.

(They never did deal with Jade in this scene, but we’re not supposed to notice that. Shh!)

By the end of the story, there are only three warriors left in the game. Sub-Zero storms through the cold of the mountain and feels a bit of fear. As he anticipates, Goro steps forth and tries to take him down. Throughout the comic series, Goro has been shown as being nigh-unstoppable. But by the end of this fight, they surprise me.

“The storytellers of Outworld will try to spin tales about why the Prince of Pain fell this day. Perhaps the brutal weather sapped some vital strength from Goro, they will say. Perhaps the bitter cold lent strength to the Lin Kuei warrior. Who can say? They will gloss over the reasons, but the end result will always remain the same… and the Lin Kuei warrior’s name will be held in awe and respect from this day forward.”

That’s right. Sub-Zero wins and the medallion is nearby, there for the taking. Before even moving on, he calmly points out Scorpion’s presence. As I mentioned last article, Scorpion should be the hero and Sub-Zero should be the villain. Yet, to the series’ credit, they reversed the roles and made it work. Here is the dialogue of the scene:

“I feel your presence, dead one. Do not think you shall catch me unaware.”

“Such was not my intent, my erstwhile adversary. For gaze there just in front of you. The medallion of Shao Kahn.”

Sub-Zero peacefully removes his mask and breathes out vapor. “I will not fight you, Scorpion. There are more important things than worrying about a spectre’s revenge. I will worry about life. Death will take care of itself.” He turns his back and walks away. “Do what you must, but it will not change the fact that I bested you in a fair fight. With your supernatural powers, killing me now would be the ultimate act of cowardice.”

Scorpion removes his mask as well, showing his fiery skull. “Perhaps you are correct, mortal. Perhaps you are correct. We shall debate the issue… in the after-life!”

Scorpion spews his hellfire all over Sub-Zero, which burns him despite the surrounding weather. Rather than just die, Sub-Zero continues to crawl up the mountain until making it to the amulet.

Wow. Say what you will about this series, but that was badass. What’s especially surprising is that Sub-Zero is the one to save the day. While Liu Kang did his share of dominant fighting throughout the series, he wasn’t the big hero in the end. This is different from the usual stuff you see in fighting game comics. For instance, if you’ve ever seen the King of Fighters comics from Hong Kong, you have to be a marquee character to have anything resembling importance. In terms of how skilled and powerful they’re written, Tier 1 is guys like Kyo, K’, Iori and the main villain while Tier 58 is everyone else.

Shao Kahn looks on and is impressed. He sends the warriors home and contemplates his next plan for world domination. “The times for games is past. The final darkness fast approaches.”

In the epilogue, some Lin Kuei ninjas are shown storming a building in Tokyo, out to take down one man. Suddenly, they are all frozen in place. They find a new, unmasked Sub-Zero facing them, angry at how the Lin Kuei has lost its honor. He is the original Sub-Zero’s brother, out to continue his legacy.

There is one other comic left, entitled Mortal Kombat: Kung Lao. It can’t really be placed anywhere, since it brings up continuity issues wherever it goes, but I consider it to be a good epilogue for the series. In the story, Kung Lao has a vision of he and his allies failing against Kahn and having their corpses displayed in front of Kahn’s tower.

He awakens and is attacked by Sub-Zero. He smacks him aside before being attacked a moment later by Baraka. He beats Baraka, but then Kitana arrives through the fog. She begins to seduce our hero.

That look on his face is exactly what Charlie Sheen does whenever he attempts comedy.

Kung Lao pimp-slaps her away, as he realizes who this Kitana really is. Kitana reverts into Shang Tsung, who challenges Kung Lao to a fight. Shang shows off his morphing powers until turning into Kung Lao and running into battle. The real Kung Lao wins the first round, but Shang decides to fuck with his head. He transforms into the original Kung Lao.

For review, the original Kung Lao is the former MK champion who died at the hands of Goro prior to having Shang Tsung devour his soul. He is the current Kung Lao’s ancestor. They fight and Shang Tsung gets the advantage. Before he can truly capitalize, he starts to freak out a bit. Kung Lao Klassic’s soul begins to take over and he begs his descendant to free him.

Kung Lao kicks him pretty hard in the chin, snapping Shang’s neck back. The original Kung Lao’s soul flies out of him, bowing in recognition. With Shang Tsung unconscious (or less-likely dead) at his feet, Kung Lao looks up and smiles.

“He watches as the soul of his forefather climbs towards the heavens. Whatever else transpires during these dark days, this cannot be taken away from him. The road ahead is filled with peril and hardship, but Kung Lao shall walk it with his head held high. He realizes now that he has spent so much of his life worrying about how far he might fall… that he never stopped to consider how high he might rise.”

A fine way to end the series, I’d say. Especially considering that during the days of when MK3 was new, Kung Lao was fated to die by the end of the game’s story.

Malibu’s Mortal Kombat series wasn’t such a train wreck, in the end. It started off pretty shaky with the sometimes-painful art and the stories about zany wizards and unexplained Sonya clones. Yet by the conclusion of Tournament Edition II, I was a little bummed that they never continued into a story based on MK3.

Comparing the Malibu Street Fighter comic to the Malibu Mortal Kombat comic, it isn’t even close. MK was actually decent at times. Years later, UDON would take the reigns of the Street Fighter franchise and produce their own series, which itself is superior to the old MK comic. It was announced that WAM Entertainment was going to release a series of MK comics in relation to the recently released MK: Deception, but as far as I know, the plans fizzled. It’s a shame, since the preview art was pretty good.

That’s really too bad. With nine games (not counting add-on games like Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat Gold) and plenty of good story elements at their disposal, a competent comic staff could easily spin out some memorable stories with Midway’s material.

But please. Please, just lock Kiki Santamone in the closet this time.

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2 comments to “Malibu Kombat: Part Gold”

  1. I’d just like to note that Johnny Cage manages to morph into Cyclops in that second picture.

  2. And the funny thing is…is that John Tobias helped out with this series and both Tobias and Boon say it’s canon…