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Writer Shawn Kittelsen Discusses DC's Weekly Mortal Kombat X Digital Comic

The writer of the upcoming MORTAL KOMBAT X digital series chats with us about the comic and the franchise

With the new Mortal Kombat game right around the corner, DC announced their will be a weekly digital series coming out before the game. Written by Shawn Kittelsen, drawn by Dexter Soy, and featuring covers from Ivan Reis, this new series launching on January 6th will hopefully take fans by storm. Kittelsen talked to us over the phone about his love of the series and how he hopes to reach fans new and old.

COMIC VINE: What's the story for Mortal Kombat X?

SHAWN KITTELSEN: Between the last game, Mortal Kombat 9, and Mortal Kombat X, 25 years pass and a lot of things happen, one of those things is that a new generation of fighters arrived. This comic is all about how the characters we all know and love come to be the people that they are in Mortal Kombat X and how the new generation of fighters come to be a part of that world. Our book takes place right in the middle between Mortal Kombat 9 and Mortal Kombat X, about 15 years into that 25 year timeline.

Issue #2 cover by Ivan Reis
Issue #2 cover by Ivan Reis

CV: The Mortal Kombat series has such a rich and deep mythos. Was researching for this project just as challenging as writing it?

SK: Yeah. I played every single game, at some point in my life. I had that background behind me, but there was a lot of refreshing to do, especially with Mortal Kombat 9, which kind of reboots and recaps a lot of what happened in the first three games and then there's four more games [laughs] and five more games that have a lot more characters. I went back through and basically read the story line for every single game, so I really understood the places that the characters have been before, the ways they had interacted, and I needed to know if there was room to do something different, so that we weren't just telling the same story over again but we're giving the fans something new and at the same time, it's something that's really authentic to what they expect from a franchise that they've known and loved for like two decades.

CV: Does this series follow any new characters that you created who we won't see in the new game?

SK: Both! And I'm not gonna tell you which is which. There's going to be a lot of characters in this book. One thing that we're really lucky with is that there's so many weeks to tell stories that sometimes we can just take a week to really focus in on one or two characters and where they're at and at other times, we have really big, epic, cross-cutting between Outworld and Earth-Realm, different characters and different locations. But in all of that, if we only went with characters that were in the game, you kind of get bored because you'd know "they're gonna end up over here. They're gonna end up doing this." To keep people interesting and to keep people excited, we're introducing a ton of characters: some of them you're going to see in the game, some of them you won't, and it's gonna be a slow burn [laughs]. As more characters are revealed, as the game launches, the book is going to run for a few months before the game comes out. That's a real exciting time for me because it's going to be full of surprises for the fans. You're really not going to know what you're going to get, who's going to die, who's going to live, or how they're going to get out of whatever situation they're in.

Issue #1 cover by Ivan Reis
Issue #1 cover by Ivan Reis

CV: Did you ever feel intimidated going into this knowing you had to speak to both comic book and Mortal Kombat fans, both of which can be very vocal about their loves and hates of certain things?

SK: [laughs] I was surprised that after this was announced that so any people were hitting me up with their favorite characters on Twitter, not just like telling me "I love this character," but tweeting at me as that character. That was new. It made it all very real for me. "Oh man, I'm writing Mortal Kombat." [laughs] I had been working on it for months but it wasn't until someone tweets at me as Mileena that I was like "this is really happening." There's almost a danger with [writing the book] that you don't want to alienate one audience or another. The most important thing for me, when I think about all that stuff, is that every chapter, every story line, you should be able to come at it if you're never played the games before. But if you have, you'll be able to approach it with a totally different perspective and see the bigger picture of how it fits into the grand mythology. You can't cram everything into the ten pages a week. If we footnoted everything, it would get a little dense. It would get a little homeworky and it shouldn't feel like homework. It should be fun. It should be something you're engaged with in the moment. When someone gets their face punched off, that should surprise you, and it will. There's definitely a balances to stride and I think we're hitting it pretty well in terms of being sensitive to in terms of "is this too insider?" If it is, how can we make it make sense for people who maybe haven't played every single game? How about people who haven't been with the franchise for a while and are just coming back to it after a certain period of time? It's going to be for everyone, but also totally dedicated to the fans.

CV: Speaking of faces getting punched off, Mortal Kombat is known for it's brutality and violence. What can we expect from the comic as far as the violence goes?

Issue #4 cover by Ivan Reis
Issue #4 cover by Ivan Reis

SK: It's gonna be so violent that I can't even talk about it because I'm going to have to use expletives, which I was warned was not professional, so I'm not gonna do that. It's incredibly violent. A big part of what made this series so attractive to me is and so exciting to write is that for the first time, the stories are canon to the game universe and it hasn't been that way since the 90s, since John Tobias was drawing the books. For us to come in and contribute to that canon means that we got to deliver what fans expect from the game. It's gotta be over-the-top violent to have these fatalities. People have to die, which goes back to why we're introducing a lot of characters who may or may not appear in the game.

CV: What's your favorite fatality?

SK: Oh this is so hard, dude. I literally just short-circuited my brain. [laughs] I should have good answers for this, shouldn't I? It's really hard for me. I feel like I've watched every single one, and we're trying to get little nods for fans that are paying close attention, but I have to say and this totally sounds like the marketing line but it's so not, my favorite one is the Scorpion fatality that debuted at E3 this year, which I think you can now find online. Their face gets cut and there's a little gag with a tongue that's waggling in the mouth of the head that's been bisected. That was a moment for me where I sat deeper in my chair [laughs]. I was so uncomfortable and so in awe, and at that moment I said "that's the mark we have to hit. We have to find a way to get there."

Thanks to Shawn Kittelsen for talking to us about the new series and check out MORTAL KOMBAT X which hits digital stores on Tuesday, January 6th!