Note: The following review contains spoilers! If you haven't read digital Chapter 6 (or Mortal Kombat X #2 in print) you should visit DC Entertainment to purchase unread chapters for 99c each!

Mortal Kombat X: Blood Ties continues with a sharp turn away from the previous chapter's cliff hanger ending - toward a solo spotlight in a mini-story aptly titled "Kotal Kahn: Sekret Origin".

It's an incidental detail, but it's fun to see the comic book tradition of the "secret origin" incorporated into Mortal Kombat. Long time fans know the ties between MK and comics. It's a small acknowledgement of the fusion of cultures that is now stronger than ever. It's also a very effective way to get the root of one of the most interesting new characters introduced to Mortal Kombat in a very long time! Kotal is character we've been eager to learn more about since his E3 2014 unveiling, and abrupt introduction to the comics, in chains, during Chapter 4.

The epic backstory is condensed into a simple but effective episode. In many ways, it's reminiscent of the klassic video game character bios, spread out to show what it also tells.

It starts with the conquest of a golden realm called Osh-Tekk, many ages ago. Shao Kahn and the forces of Outworld [above] reintroduce its ruler Kotal K'etz to the forgotten concept of defeat.

We've always known Shao Kahn conquered and merged many realms into his empire of Outworld, so it's nice to go back to a time before the conflict with Earthrealm, to see another of the fallen cultures. A culture that, as it turns out, succumbed willingly after their bitter defeat. It was a gambit that allowed Kotal K'etz to retain his treasures - chief among them a "portal stone". This portal stone answers the question raised in the previous chapter: why is Kotal Kahn so casually visiting the Special Forces of Earthrealm? As it turns out, he has deep ties to our world through the use of this stone!

As it turns out, Kotal Kahn doesn't just resemble an Aztec deity - he is one! Much as we've learned Raiden is known by other names to other cultures (such as Haokah); Kotal Kahn is identified with the Aztec war god Buluc. He gained this mantle through an Osh-Tekk rite of passage called the "Realmwalk", which sent him into the harsh, warring world of Earthrealm. It's a familiar concept for strengthening a young warrior -- popularly identified with the Spartan agoge -- and a fine wrinkle to tie him to our world.

Where things start to break down a little is in the timeline. Sticklers for the original series fiction will remember Goro as the undefeated champion of Mortal Kombat for 500 years. As fate has it, Kotal Kahn arrives in The Amazon jungle at the same time as the Spanish conquistadors. This places the story around 1519 -- meaning the conquest of Osh-Tekk was close to Goro's first tournament win, possibly after (depending on the elastic determination of "the present"). We know Goro defeated Earthrealm's last great champion: The Great Kung Lao. The rules of the Elder Gods' tournament were in place for quite some time before Shao Kahn and Goro conquered the golden realm. Given the stretch of time between Mortal Kombat tournaments,

it's not unreasonable to think Outworld was monitoring other interests whilst pursuing Earthrealm through sporadic tournaments, but we've certainly never thought of it that way, and the conquest is not depicted with any sense of the Elder Gods' rules. If there's more story here, we welcome it. Perhaps the Osh-Tekk were forsaken by the Elder Gods, had no godly representation, or was a "realm" of Outworld in the traditional sense, rather than the otherworldly MK sense. After the 2011 reboot, we just hope it was thought about, rather than glossed over.

In any case - from the perspective of creating Kotal Kahn, the timing is obviously perfect. He's ingrained in the warring human culture his father forewarned. He participates in protecting his unidentified tribe -- possibly the famed inhabitants of Tenochtitlan -- fighting both rival tribes, and the Spanish invaders. This piece of history also provides a final flourish that fits the blood ties motif running throughout the series, although, timelines again become a little sketchy.

Kotal Kahn returns to Outworld when the Aztec enemies dwindle and he grows bored. While his realmwalk is complete, papa K'etz is unimpressed by his son's efforts. He sees a bigger picture. When Kotal rejects his father's doom saying, he discovers the Amazon tribe are dead. Killed by the ritual drinking of their enemies' blood, which was infected with unseen disease and pestilence. History fans know smallpox and typhus really did decimate the Aztec people. It's tough to line it up with Kotal Kahn reaching adulthood in The Amazon, but the warped history deserves a gimme.

While we might question attention to detail, the broad strokes here are excellent. Kotal Kahn has instantly become one of the great new Mortal Kombat characters - a warrior we hope can endure into future instalments. It's expected his ties to Earthrealm and Outworld will play well into the game and continuing story.

We presume the broad strokes have come from NetherRealm Studios, but as in previous chapters, Shawn Kittelsen has been at his best when writing these fertile, new characters. Artist Geraldo Borges lacks the slick inks and completed art of Dexter Soy, but his compositions serve the story well.

This chapter reads exceptionally as a stand-alone episode, but when packaged in print with the two previous chapters, it should compliment Kotal Kahn's first appearance, wrapping around to answer those questions we had regarding his entrance. The story is open to continue in a big way - too! In present day, Mileena has been deposed as Empress of Outworld, but we see Reiko and Goro working alongside her in the final pages! Excellent!

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