Mortal Kombat X comics are finally here and they're diving deep into the gap between Mortal Kombat (2011) and April's new generation sequel!

The following review covers the digital edition of Chapter Two and will contain spoilers! Readers should proceed to DC Entertainment to purchase and read the digital edition. You can also preview Chapter Two, or the full print issue #1.

If Chapter One raised issues of format and the strained mutual priorities of print and digital versions - Chapter Two responds with calm assurance. Where the first edition threw readers into an ill defined melting pot of familiar faces, carnage, and set up for further set ups - Chapter Two hunkers down for a more traditional piece of storytelling.

"Blood Ties" is the name given to the issue as a whole, but Chapter 2 begins the tale of Scorpion's Apprentice - leaving behind the vague swashbuckling of Kenshi to explore the next generation. This is a digital two-parter that will presumably resolve within the first print issue. Again; the average ratio is 3 digital chapters to 1 print edition. Something artist Dexter Soy seems acutely aware of, based on the evident equator in most of his print layouts [preview].

There are two young students vying for the titular apprenticeship. Takeda was introduced in the prologue of Chapter 1 as the offspring of blind sword saint turned special forces operative: Kenshi. The other is a slightly advanced Shirai Ryu warrior of unknown origin called Fox [first name Forrest, according to Warner Bros. sources] They're both new to the franchise, but we suspect Takeda will be the hero of the pair, drawing from the comic itself, and rumors of pending webseries involvement.

We have to join the chorus of fans who are already clamouring for Takeda & Fox's inclusion in the Mortal Kombat X video game. In this chapter alone, they're given the framework of characterization, rivalry, and motivation that makes for good fighting game characters. As unknown quantities, the pair also give the writing a much needed thrust of information.

This isn't a complicated read by any measure, but it has a forthcoming focus that Chapter 1 lacked, making better use of its pages by infusing them with greater meaning. The action is still center stage. As seen in previews, the junior battle between the pair is brutal - especially for the younger, less experienced Takeda. When the exercise is reprised many years later, the maturing Takeda pays Fox back for the broken nose he received as a child. Think 300 spartan agoge for your brand of juvenile brutality, rather than the cream puff hide & seek of The Hunger Games.

The violence reaches a crescendo in the final pages of the chapter, when Fox is assigned to protect Takeda. Unbeknownst to all involved, Fox has fallen under the influence of a powerful demon unleashed upon the Earth as a result of "The Netherrealm invasion". The result - another massacre for the once murdered Shirai Ryu clan by a now faceless Fox.

Fox cut the skin from his face using a Kamidogu dagger - something introduced in Chapter One, when Kano was compelled to do something similar [read more]. We still have no clear impression of who the demon is, or why the Kamidogu artefacts featured in Deception are now daggers. These seem like on-going mysteries we'll be happy to follow in future instalments! The demon is citing a blood code. We'll reserve expectations for a character named Abacabb, though.

More vexing are omnipresent references to Netherrealm conflict. We continue to presume they allude to the Shinnok led plot originally told in Mortal Kombat 4, and hinted at during the epilogue of 2011's reboot. Given that it's the basis for so much, it feels less reasonably serial, and more like missing information. It remains to be seen if the "Netherrealm War" is told in the game, comics, or both. Either way, it can't come soon enough to alleviate the burden of untold premise.

The information we do receive comes through Raiden. Artist Dexter Soy and colorist Veronica Gandini do a tremendous job of giving the thunder god a grand entrance! It's a dramatic, uniquely comic book take on the ominous protector. One that pays fitting homage to one of the series' most important characters. The writing doesn't shy away from Raiden's perceived failings in the 2011 story, noting the demise of heroes, but he's depicted as aloof, rather than frayed to the point of incompetence. [Special Note: We get our first sighting of 2011 survivors Johnny Cage & Sonya Blade with the reference to "fewer" heroes.]

Where Raiden comes off reasonably well, the voices of other characters don't quite hit. Kano's Australian dialogue felt suspect in Chapter 1, rigidly non-specific with one or two exceptions. Scorpion suffers under similarly non-specific dialogue choices, exhibiting no sense of ceremony, or Japanese ethnicity. There's something very strange about Scorpion asking about being 'audted' - but it may be symptomatic of a bigger friction.

Scorpion plays the stern taskmaster, throughout. It's the right kind of advancement of klassic characters, used well to ingratiate the new generation, but something rings false about Scorpion in such a visible role. It's clear the tortured spectre will return in the game. There's a definite lack of ceremony in his role as mentor that fails to sell the distinction. Again, character changing events in the untold Netherrealm War are unable to resolve the sense of discrepancy. It recalls an anecdote by film director Paul W. Anderson, who learned very quickly from test screenings of the 1995 Mortal Kombat film that fans expected certain things of iconic characters, Scorpion & Sub-Zero.

As noted - the digital chapter ends with the mass dismemberment of Shirai Ryu clansmen. Fans know this one of the original triggers for Hanzo Hasashi's transformation into a vengeful ninja spectre. We have to suspect this history repeating will play a role in returning Scorpion to a vengeful state. We'll be interested to see if a status quo returns a more familiar sense of voice in the character - preferably without soundbytes.

There's still a question about how the slice 'n' dice from print format to digital chapters affects the read. From just two chapters, there's a sense of anthology developing, but it's too early to establish expectations. What is clear is that Chapter 2 is a much better measure of this series than the first.

Mortal Kombat X is on sale now! Visit DC Entertainment to pick up all the digital chapters for 99c each! Bookmark the MKO Comics Directory for more previews, reviews and purchase links. Register to share your review on the forum!