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Tuesday, February 23, 2021 

CBR sugarcoats Mortal Kombat comics as much as the game franchise itself

I see the long awful CBR is gushing over and fluff-coating a video game franchise I've long considered repellent, the Mortal Kombat series, and here, the topic involves a webcomic based on the game with the Roman numeral X, that may have originally been published around 2015:
From fearless heroes, nightmarish monsters, and blood-drenched combat, the Mortal Kombat series has it all. Debuting in 1992 as a groundbreaking arcade fighting game, Mortal Kombat has since evolved into a sprawling epic spanning time and space. With nearly 30 years worth of content, it can be difficult to keep track of its immense story with much taking place between the games. The Mortal Kombat X digital first series by Shawn Kittelsen, Dexter Soy, Igor Vitorina, Geraldo Borges, and Veronia Gandini is a story set between the events of the 2011 reboot video game title Mortal Kombat and its 2015 sequel Mortal Kombat X.
Yup, as expected, a site that's spent the past decade dishing out sex-negative viewpoints has no issues with violent content a game like this is notorious for. Of course, to say this is a blood-drenched series is understating the overall content. This is a game notorious for techniques resulting in severed heads, limbs, and worse. And the digital comic in focus certainly seems to come close, if the following is an indication:
Mortal Kombat X begins with the blind warrior Kenshi being chased by members of the evil Red Dragon Clan. His son, Takeda, is nearly taken by Hsu Hao, a Red Dragon Commander. Hsu Hao is killed suddenly as Hanzo Hasashi, the famed Shirai Ryu warrior possessed by the spirit Scorpion, saves Takeda. Takeda is taken to the Shirau Ryu temple where he is trained in martial arts. Years pass without incident until one day Takeda's closest friend is possessed by a powerful dagger that the Shirai Ryu had been entrusted to guard. After slaughtering the entire Shirai Ryu, Takeda is eventually forced to kill his friend in order to end the bloodshed. Drenched in his friends blood, Takeda is taken by Hanzo to meet with Raiden, the guardian of Earthrealm.
It may no longer be unexpected, at this point, but that doesn't make it any less sickening. Even more hypocritical is how the sexuality was toned down below rock bottom, yet goring everyone's faces and limbs beyond recognition is fully allowed, unquestioned by the Orwellian advocates who led to this in the first place. Though there is a valid argument that sex appeal doesn't actually mix well with a game built on graphic gore, when industrialists go out of their way to appeal to a crowd that's sold on ultra-violence, it demonstrates a very unpleasant double-standard in motion.
Mortal Kombat X does a fantastic job at utilizing characters from the entirety of Mortal Kombat's expansive history. Classic A-Lister's such as Kano, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Mileena are put at the forefront of the story with lesser known characters such as Jarek, Movado, Drahmin, and even Tasia seeing their share of action. With an abundance of characters, locales, and lines from the games on full display, Mortal Kombat X is a lovingly detailed adventure into one of fighting genre's most beloved series.
Not beloved by yours truly. So violent content is something perfect to describe as "lovingly" detailed, but not say, a lovemaking scene between a loving couple? All you need to know what's wrong with the Orwellian propagandists fawning over this comics adaptation.

IGN wrote a review of it 6 years ago that almost describes it as mediocre, but still validates the gore:
While the book’s action is appropriately violent and over the top, its character development proves a kombo that never completely gets off the ground. This in itself is unfortunate, as Kittleson does a nice job laying the groundwork for some intriguing pairings. [...]
So failure with character "development", if such a thing is possible in a franchise with this kind of build, is unfortunate, but over the top violence isn't? And it's practically appropriate? I fail to comprehend.
Of course, it’s the Kombat we’ve come to see, and in that regard the book's art team, lead by Dexter Soy, delivers. Volume 1 is packed with action, from demonic ninja battles to gritty cage fights, each melee as brutal and aggressive as its signature flagship. Soy straddles a fine line between video game concept art and comic style, his characters hyper animated and distinct. The artist shows a clear understanding of the book's overall tone, using dramatic close ups and x-ray snapshots to highlight the ever present devastation. Bones splinter and snap, tendons go the way of loose spaghetti and all the while blood splatters like a Jackson Pollack painting. Colorist Veronica Gandini completes the overall energetic feel, dotting her mostly muted hues with blazing splashes of vibrance. There are some wonky panel layouts to be had and a few overly static pages, but when Soy and Gandini are on, the book really is Kombat personified.
And only so repellent. This kind of marketing is the worst.

Since we're on the subject, I was quite amazed to discover that 6 years ago, CBC ran a report informing that the gory content of the very installment the comic adaptation CBR gushed over is based on was becoming considered too violent for some people who shouldn't even have been fans to begin with:
It's nothing new for the series, which has been synonymous with over-the-top gore since the 1990s. But several critics and gamers have suggested the crystal-clear fidelity vividness of the Fatalities in the new instalment may be too much for them to stomach.

"It's taken two decades, but I think I've outgrown Mortal Kombat," wrote Kotaku UK's Ian Dransfield.

"Maybe I'm old, maybe it's the graphical fidelity that puts me off - there's a distinction between the blocky, pixellated, B-movie style spinal cords ripped out of the original Mortal Kombat and seeing someone's internal organs slapped in front of the camera in vivid detail."
Well I'm glad to know somebody who worked for that shoddy website formerly belonging to the awful Gawker had what it took to acknowledge something's wrong with the picture. But even in the early installments, it was disgusting enough to see arms getting ripped off of characters along with their heads, and in the 2nd game, falling onto a spike bed while facing the viewer. Somebody else said his disillusionment with the newer takes stems from jettisoning a sense of humor:
For Hatton, though, the pendulum has veered a little too far away from the camp and more towards the gore.

"I don't know that they're necessarily more violent, because ripping someone's heart out is still very violent whether you portray it in high graphical fidelity or low fidelity. But right now, with the amount of detail that people can put into these visuals, you start to realize how gross they actually are," he said.

"And for me, they stopped being funny or entertaining."
Well I don't see anything funny about a game laced with grisly mayhem, when you have only so much of that in the real world, and playing gore for such cheap sensationalism - one where you don't make a distinction between goodies and baddies in terms of how to dish it all out - is insulting to all the real life victims of the same. Similar arguments can be made about sexual violence too. Yet this franchise has now become the subject of a third movie adaptation for this year, and questions whether this kind of marketing for entertainment is healthy are too few and far between. And all the while, related products like the new comic based on it are gushed over by the mainstream press sources, making things worse. This is not healthy for comicdom any more than it is for video games.

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When was the last time you played something more challenging than Tetris or Puyo Puyo anyway?

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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