Rating: 2.5/5 – Confusing Storytelling Failed to Hook Me as a Casual Fan.
by ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
I’ll start this review by stating that although I’m a fan of the Mortal Kombat games, I know little of the history behind the iconic characters like Scorpion and Sub-Zero and the world they’re part of. Mortal Kombat has had comic series before, published by Malibu in the 1990s and previously by DC when the Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe game was released back in 2008. With an upcoming game that shares the same title as this new mini-series, DC has jumped on the license again with a Digital First and physical copy series that acts as a prequel to the game. So how does this series fare when it comes to capturing the feel of the game while introducing readers to the world? In both areas, I think it swings and misses.
Writer Shawn Kittlesen starts this first issue with heavy action which is how a comic like this should start, but then quickly jumps around to different time periods in a manner that seemed both confusing and abrupt. Kittlesen uses caption boxes that state “some time ago” and “many years ago” and it’s confusing to figure out whether or not different scenes are supposed to be occurring in the same time period. In regards to the character development, although I know who Scorpion is, in this first issue he’s both a hero and a villain at different times and with the confusion around exactly when those time frames take place, I wasn’t as invested into the character as I could have been. The main character’s story who we meet in those opening pages is also quickly set up and conveniently falls into place which added little depth to the story and the reader’s caring for the cast as a whole.
Art wise, Dexter Soy does some nice things by including some details from the game. For example, in a couple of scenes Soy incorporates the “bone breaking” effect into the art and he handles the violence in a creative and fun way, although it never feels as impactful or over the top as the game. He’s able to draw some exciting action scenes with dramatic effects and although his characters are not grounded in realism, it’s a style that works within the world. His use of the character’s powers though could have had more clarity since the opening scene left me confused on just who it was. Arrows are frozen in place using a blue color, but it wasn’t Sub-Zero, it was the main character using his telekinesis. It’s the little touches like that where the art could help counter the confusing writing and it doesn’t.
Overall, the art doesn’t make up for the confusing storyline and lack of a friendly introduction into the world. At the end of this issue, I knew what was going on with the main character and his son, but little else. If you were hoping for a series that welcomed you into its world with a story that’s easy to follow, you won’t find it here. I’m not sure if hard core Mortal Kombat enthusiasts would feel the same as I did, this is a book that looks to cater more to them and less to the casual fan. I don’t know, it may even miss the mark with the hard core audience, I know I won’t be back as a casual fan.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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