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Feature: The Importance of Comics to Mortal Kombat

01/22/2014 :: Posted at 07:25 AM by Mick-Lucifer
A closer look at the long running ties between comic books & MK!

Comic books have always been important to Mortal Kombat.

The energetic, visual world of American superheroes helped inspire some of the most iconic qualities associated with the long running series. Co-creators Ed Boon and John Tobias have never been shy about their inspirations - frequently citing a pop culture melting pot as crucial education that informed the original games. The association runs deep.

Tobias dabbled in comics as a writer and artist; ultimately utilizing the medium to expand and embellish the saga of the original Mortal Kombat games. His comic styled designs and branching story techniques were a natural fit in the four colour medium, and proved crucial to making Mortal Kombat the complete pop culture phenomenon it became. As he discussed in a 2012 interview with Mortal Kombat Online [read more], his comics fed the growing MK multimedia machine, providing valuable source for the blockbuster 1995 feature film.

Before the movie; Malibu Comics launched an extensive line of licensed mini-series starring characters from Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat II. The 1994 series Mortal Kombat: Blood & Thunder started with a version of Tobias' iconic tournament-centric plot, but quickly spun the publications into a variety of original manifestations. Though remembered in infamy, the rapid expansion into comics remains one of Malibu's most lasting legacies, and a fond but guilty pleasure for many MK fans.


John Tobias Expands His Story in the Collector's Edition Comic.

The series co-creator [Tobias] was ultimately lured out of a decade of exile in 2008, when he was invited to draw the latest collector's edition comic: Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe. It was a fitting return for the prodigal son, who described drawing his own creations and those of DC Comics as "a dream come true".

Of course, the association with DC Comics was just warming up.
The crossover game would prove equal parts beginning and end: the final instalment produced under Midway Games, but the first involving DC parent company and eventual owners: Warner Brothers. Their acquisition of assets led to the formal establishment of NetherRealm Studios, and brought Mortal Kombat to the doorstep of comic books.

NetherRealm were quickly brought into the DC Entertainment fold, contributing to Arkham City Lockdown -- where Kano appeared as a challenge mode easter egg! This gave way to the 2012 announcement of Injustice: Gods Among Us: Unofficial follow-up to the Versus crossover and a completely DC centric fighting game from the makers of Mortal Kombat!


Worlds Collide -- John Tobias Draws Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe!

For Mortal Kombat Online, the announcement of Injustice posed several difficult questions. Chief among them: Should a Mortal Kombat website veer from its primary focus to cover a DC fighting game? Internally, we were divided. A then relatively new webmaster had concerns about the misassumptions his history with comics might provoke. The surface deviation - from MK to DC - was not lost on any one.

The decision was ultimately: Yes. The reasons were simple, alluded to by much of this article. There was, of course, the 2008 crossover that provided a foundation logic. There was also a strong desire to support NetherRealm Studios in their first major non-Kombat project for WB -- a title that would inevitably create a longer drought between Mortal Kombat (2011) and sequels. Then there was the slightly more esoteric factor, of which this article aims to highlight.

Comic books have always been important to Mortal Kombat.
From inception to franchise; comics have been an integral part of every facet of the Mortal Kombat experience. In Injustice, the influences have gone both ways. Through Gods Among Us, Mortal Kombat has given back to the DC Universe, allowing them to appropriate the fighting game experience in their most successful outing. In turn, Mortal Kombat has been returned to a part of the pop culture spectrum it belongs in, providing opportunity for greater exposure and successes.

The association with DC has facilitated Mortal Kombat's icons being brought to life through some of comics' best known talents. Superstar artist Alex Ross provided a painted cover for Kollectors Editions of Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe [full story], while DC co-publisher and artist Jim Lee provided a unique new design for Scorpion as DLC for Injustice.


Publisher & Artist Jim Lee Adds to Scorpion Mythos with New Design.

Throughout Injustice coverage: Mortal Kombat Online has hoped for - and frequently been asked about - DC producing brand new Mortal Kombat comics.

While nothing has eventuated as yet; unprecedented support for the Injustice: Gods Among Us tie-in comic -- now entering its second year -- has emboldened the argument for similar MK treatment. After all, gamers have helped fund DC Comics' greatest success in the burgeoning digital market thus far. While results for Mortal Kombat may realistically be smaller, the potential in the material is no less.

The inevitability of Mortal Kombat on the latest generation of hardware brings us ever closer to a sequel announcement. With the last game's promotion returning the dragon logo to the majority of pop culture domains -- live-action film, concept music, and more -- we hope comics will be the next logical frontier!

While we wait for news of a fresh wave of comics, Mortal Kombat Online will be turning the spotlight toward MK serials of the past. More specifically; the lesser known Mortal Kombat 4 mini-series published in Brazil! Stay tuned to the Media & Merchandise forum for coming updates. While there, share your thoughts and hopes for MK's comics past and future!

    
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