Mortal Kombat: Volume 1: Blood Ties

Writer: Shawn Kittelsen

Artists: Dexter Soy, Gerardo Borges, Igor Vitorino, Oclair Albert, Ruy Josť, Daniel Sampere and Juan Albarran

Distributed By:: DC Comics

                When the first Mortal Kombat video game hit the stores in the early 1990s, I was floored.  This was one bloody martial arts fight game...a fight to the death with finishing moves called Fatalities.  It was awesome!  I began playing and became enthralled in the action during the game and the revelations of character storylines each time you completed the tournament with a character.  The player became invested in these characters and their stories and always wanted more.  This is one reason that the video game franchise was so successful.  As a result of the video game's success, movies, books, television series and comic book series were launched.  I confess to having checked out quite a few of these media spinoffs.

                On April 14, 2015, a new entry into the Mortal Kombat video game series, Mortal Kombat X, will be made available for Playstation 4, XBox One and Microsoft Windows.  The game will be ported to Playstation 3 and XBox 360 at a later date.  In preparation for this new release, DC Comics began publishing a prequel series called Mortal Kombat X.  The title began its run in January 2015.  Coinciding with the release date of the video game, a graphic novel compiling the first four issues of the comic book series, Mortal Kombat X: Volume 1: Blood Ties, will be released.  I had the opportunity to check it out a bit early.

                With this series, we are entering a whole new phase of Mortal Kombat.  Reading this series, I realize I am woefully behind in my MK lore.  Hanzo Hasashi has conquered his inner demons (AKA: Scorpion) and has been returned to the living realm and has been rebuilding his clan.  His rebuilding efforts are interrupted by an old friend who needs his help.  The blind swordsman/telekinetic Kenshi asks Scorpion to keep his son, Takeda, safe while he searches for Daegon, leader of the Red Dragon Cult that killed Takeda's mother. 

                In the seven years that Kenshi is gone, Hanzo has been training Takeda in the ways of his clan.  Unfortunately, his clan is about to be wiped out again by a clan member named Fox who becomes possessed by a demon obsessed with The Blood Code.  Stealing a dagger given to Hanzo by Raiden to protect, Fox kills all of the clan members with the exception of Takeda and Hanzo who ultimately destroy him.  Hanzo and Takeda begin a journey to Raiden's Sky Temple to find out just what powers this dagger possesses and why Raiden didn't warn Hanzo about them in the first place.

                Meanwhile, while I have been away, actor Johnny Cage and Special Forces Officer Sonya Blade have been busy.  They now have a daughter named Cassie Cage, a bit of a thrill seeker with martial arts moves that combine some of the best moves of Johnny and Sonya.  Her best friend, Jaqui Briggs, is the daughter of Special Forces operative and Sonya's former partner, Jackson "Jax" Briggs.  The two tend to get themselves into jams thanks to Cassie's risk taking attitude.  On this Cassie Cage adventure, the two find themselves smack dab in the middle of a fight to the death...a real Mortal Kombat match.  They are rescued/kidnapped by members of Black Dragon with Sonya, Johnny and a squadron of Special Forces members dead on their heels.

                And somehow, this all ties in with and Outerrealm world of Osh-Tekk, a world taken over by Outworld Emperor Shao Khan and Goro, Prince of the Shokan.  When this world was conquered, the leader of the Osh-Tekk, Kotal K'etz sent his only son to Earthrealm in an effort to train him in the ways of a warrior so that he could return and reclaim the throne from Shao Khan.  With the fall of Shao Khan, Outworld has come under the power of Mileena and her lover/adviser Reiko.  Kotal Khan asks for Sonya Blade's help in defeating his enemy, but she refuses - finding her daughter is more important and she doesn't want to get mixed up with Outworld's problems. 

                Unfortunately, she may not have a choice when she discovers that Cassie and Jaqui have been taken to Shang Tsung's Island where the tournament is again being held, hosted by the evil cleric Havik.

                While I was away, the Mortal Kombat storyline has been given a reboot and a powerful one at that.  The characters are much more intriguing and the storyline way more interesting.  Things had been fizzling out over the years, but this new reboot has given Mortal Kombat new life.  I loved the artwork in this graphic novel - no anime art here, this is life-like art with just as much blood and guts as in the video game.  Loved the x-ray moments where we can see the damage done to the bones as the warriors fight.  Just like the game!  I also liked the additional cover and character art found at the end of this graphic novel.  These are strikingly colorful images that would be perfect for the artwork wall of any Mortal Kombat fan.

                This new storyline is intriguing.  There had been rumors of a character named Havik in the past that never quite developed.  Can't wait to see what this Havik is about and how he has weaseled his way into becoming Reiko's cleric advisor.  Reiko was always an ambitious bloodthirsty general, but could it be that he is being controlled by Havik.  Could this Havik be an evil cross between Shang Tsung and Shao Khan?  Or could he be something even more monstrous?  Is this new tournament another fight to win over the Earthrealm, or is it something even more diabolical?

                I guess we will all have to wait until the video game is released and the comic book series continues.  Until then, at the listing price of $15.00US, Mortal Kombat X: Volume 1: Blood Ties, with its amazing artwork and intriguing storyline, is well worth the money for any Mortal Kombat fan.


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