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Review: Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #2

NJKVS_002_COVER-A_WADA“He betrayed his friends. He betrayed his country to save us all… In advance of NINJAK VS. THE VALIANT UNIVERSE’s stunning digital debut – coming soon to digital devices everywhere – get the full story behind the head-to-head showdowns, hero-on-hero collisions, and epic consequences that await as Ninjak goes it alone against a gauntlet of the Valiant Universe’s biggest and most beloved icons! Watch the live-action, episodic series… Then follow the action directly onto the comics page with extra-added action, intrigue, and revelations behind Ninjak’s grueling firefight against Valiants’ most indelible heroes – with red-hot creators Eliot Rahal (The Paybacks) and Joe Bennett (Deathstroke) calling the shots!”

The preview text above is a bit of a misnomer; the live action version of this story, having been faced with multiple delays, has still not been released yet. Which means that for many of us, the first taste we get of the Bat In The Sun produced web series is this comic adaptation. Being an adaptation, there’s a few hands in the creative pot steering the series with Eliot Rahal adapting Aaron Schoenke‘s screen story (the screenplay itself credits Aaron Schoenke, Sean Schoenke, Joe Harris and Andrew Rowe), but unlike last issue’s mediocre start, Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #2 isn’t entirely unfortunate – especially when you remind yourself that this isn’t the normal Valiant Universe. Think of it more as an Elseworlds story or an Ultimate Marvel production.

Everything about this comic is a step above the previous issue. The fast paced action hides the relative lack of plot developments, although there are a few things established for the following issues as the series hurtles toward its conclusion, but for the most part this is the comic equivalent to a  popcorn fueled action movie. And that’s not a bad thing.

NJKVS_002_003Admittedly I went into this comic with lowered expectations after the first issue, but I’m happy to say that Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #2 is substantially stronger than said first issue. The story has evolved from a hastilly cobbled mess that does little more than explain why Ninjak has betrayed Unity into a fun diversion from the main Valiant universe. Honestly, you get just as much of the whys from reading the recap text in the front of this issue as you will from reading #1. Another thing going for Ninjak Vs #2 is that Valiant have released  it in a week where we don’t have Ninjak appearing in another comic (last month had Ninjak stealing the show in Bloodshot Salvation #5).

Despite the long list of people contributing in one way or another to the writing of the story, artistically there are only Joe Bennett (pencils),  Belardino Brabo (inks) and Ulises Arreola (colours) providing the visual direction, which again is a step above the previous issue. The action is clear and easily discernible on the page, with Ninjak’s eyes conveying a vast array of emotion on the close up shots, and the occasional explosive moment coming across with vivid detail.

Ultimately, this is a much better representation of the quality the creative team are capable of and a far more interesting entry in the story than the debut issue. It’s still not perfect, but if the series follows this trajectory then we may just get there in the end.

Story: Eliot Rahal Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Belardino Brabo Colours: Ulises Arreola
Story: 7 Art: 7.8 Overall: 7.4 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review