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Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Infinite Frontier #1

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

American Cult: Graphic History of Religious Cults in America (Silver Sprocket) – This graphic novel is a series of shorts from a variety of creators examining famous cults in the US.

Batman: Reptilian #1 (DC Comics) – Garth Ennis and Liam Sharp dive into the world of Batman. Yes please!

Checkmate #1 (DC Comics) – The events of Event Leviathan pick up as DC’s best spies come together as part of the new Checkmate to take on Leviathan.

Gamma Flight #1 (Marvel) – The gamma-infused group gets the spotlight in a new series and we’re excited to see where this quirky group goes.

Good Luck #1 (BOOM! Studios) – What if luck was quantifiable and something everyone was born with? The concept sounds really cool, especially since this focuses on those that are born with absolutely zero luck.

Harley Quinn #4 (DC Comics) – The series has been a lot of fun tying into the greater Batman meta-story while keeping it squarely on Harley and in her own voice. Add in amazing art and you have a combination we love.

Infinite Frontier #1 (DC Comics) – The latest DC status-quo has opened up an infinite amount of possibilities. This series looks to explore that and what this new status means both good and bad.

Heroes Return #1 (Marvel) – The event has been a bit mixed in quality but we want to see where it goes and how it ends.

MFKZ #1 (Behemoth) – We don’t know about the movie but the art looks really cool.

Nuclear Family #5 (AfterShock) – The series has been some B-movie fun and we really want to see how it all wraps up.

Shadowman #3 (Valiant) – The series has been solid so far as a re-introduction of the character that’s perfect for long-time fans and new readers.

Spawn Universe #1 (Image Comics) – Back in the day Spawn had a corner of the comic universe with numerous tie-in comics. History repeats itself as Spawn again expands out in the first of what is many series to come. We’re intrigued to see where this decades-old franchise goes.

Stray Dogs #5 (Image Comics) – The series has ramped up the tension and scares and it’s clear who the villain is. We’re tense to see how this series wraps up and if the dogs get out alive.

Undiscovered Country #13 (Image Comics) – The series has been completely out there in concepts and kept us on our toes as to what will happen next. After a slight break, it’s back and we’re excited to see where it goes.

Vinyl #1 (Image Comics) – A story of psychopaths, sweet love, and a serial killer named Walter. Well, ok then.

Wonder Woman: Black & Gold #1 (DC Comics) – DC has been knocking it out of the park with a series of releases focused on the “colors” of various heroes. The anthologies have been top-notch with some real gems. We can’t wait to see what this one brings.

Early Preview: Ninjak #1


Preorder Cover by IBRAHIM MOUSTAFA
1:100 Prisma Glass Variant Cover by JAVIER PULIDO
Pre-order Deadline is June 21st
On sale JULY 14th | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

Out of the shadows and into the spotlight… the world’s greatest superspy has been exposed!

Colin King is Ninjak and he has a target on his back like never before. With enemies lurking around every corner, how will Ninjak survive when there’s nowhere left to hide and the world is gunning for him?


Advanced Review: Ninjak #1

Ninjak #1

Out of the shadows and into the spotlight in Ninjak #1… the world’s greatest superspy has been exposed!

Colin King is Ninjak and he has a target on his back like never before. With enemies lurking around every corner, how will Ninjak survive when there’s nowhere left to hide and the world is gunning for him?

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room right away, shall we? Javier Pulido‘s art is going to be divisive – though judging from what I’ve seen on various social media platforms there seems to be more people who are, to put it politely, less than thrilled with the art style in the comic, than there are those who are excited to see what can be done with this style of art in a Ninjak story.

If you’ve yet to see the art, scroll down a bit – I’ve included the preview pages so that you can form your own opinion.

For me, I’ll fully acknowledge that this art style wouldn’t be my cup of tea – this isn’t the kind of look that would get me to pick up a comic based solely on the art (but to be completely transparent, I don’t remember the last book I picked up solely because of the art, so that’s nothing but an observation), but I do find myself enjoying what Pulido brings to the table.

This book reminds me of Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior #1. It took me a couple of issues to get used to Raul Allen and Patricia Martin’s art style (which I now love), and so I’m expecting that the art’s going to grow on me over the course of the story. There’s no denying that it’s a different look for the character, and it’s fairly far from what we’ve seen in the past but I don’t think it’s a bad look, either. There’s something exciting about a fresh look for the character’s stories.

Style aside, there were a couple of moments in the comic where it felt as though a panel or two was missing (which is the reason for the score on the art, not because of how it looks). The first, and most obvious is actually in the gallery below on the fourth page; a goon is threatening somebody with an angle grinder before it’s suddenly in Ninjak’s hands and somebody else’s neck. My interpretation of the sequence is that we’re seeing Ninjak’s speed on display, but I’d have preferred at least another panel in the sequence. While there are others examples, since they occur later in the book than I’m showing you I won’t go into specifics – especially since they’re not as obvious as the one below.

The story in this issue of Ninjak picks up several months after the close of Christos Gage’s Ninja-K, and finds Ninjak as a freelance operative being trailed by MI-6. Jeff Parker paces the story well, and sheds light on the events of the last few months that we don’t see by utilizing the internal monologues of Ninjak and the MI-6 agent tailing him – at times their thought bubbles are in synch, and at times they’re slightly off which did give me a pause when trying to figure out what order to read the words on the page. Not the end of the world, ultimately. Given that the story is just beginning, Parker balances exposition with action admirably, with the comic moving at a brisk pace while still allowing Pulido to flex his creative muscles. That Parker wastes no time in dragging the story out longer than necessary is to be commended; he uses Ninjak #1 to reintroduce us to the purple ninja and his supporting cast, catch us up with what’s been going on in the time since we last saw them and set the stage for what’s to come. All in all, this is an impressive book for that reason alone.

Ninjak #1 is almost exactly what I wasn’t expecting after seeing the previews; though not perfect, a genuinely good comic. Yes, the art isn’t for everyone, but at the end of the day this is a comic visually unlike anything Valiant have put out, and I’m happy that they’re willing to take the chance. Parker builds a solid foundation for what’s to come, while ensuring new readers can pick up the comic and not be muddled down with mountains of unexplained backstory.

I’m biased because of my love for the character, but Ninjak #1 is a welcome return for Valiant’s purple hero.

Words and Art: Jeff Parker and Javier Pulido
Letters: Dave Sharpe and Javier Pulido
Story: 7.9 Art: 7.5: Overall: 7.7 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Pre-order: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Preview: Shadowman #3


Written by CULLEN BUNN
Cover C (Horror Movie Homage Variant) by ERICA HENDERSON
Preorder Cover by ROBBI RODRIGUEZ
On sale JUNE 23rd | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

Masters of terror Cullen Bunn and Jon Davis-Hunt continue their terrifying tour of SHADOWMAN’s world by bringing the supernatural defender to Barcelona where he’ll encounter a sinister undertaker…


Ninjak Takes the Spotlight in the Valiant 2021 FCBD Special

 Valiant’s stealthy superspy steps into the spotlight this August 14th for Free Comic Book Day 2021…

Featuring new cover art by Tyler Kirkham and Arif Prianto, the VALIANT 2021 FCBD SPECIAL puts NINJAK front and center. In addition to the new cover art, the free issue also contains a five-page preview which offers a spoiler-free look ahead at Ringo Award-winning writer Jeff Parker and acclaimed storyteller Javier Pulido’s NINJAK series. Check out the pages below.

Before the VALIANT 2021 FCBD SPECIAL arrives on August 14th in comic shops, NINJAK #1 will go on sale July 14th. The last day for fans to pre-order the debut issue is this Monday, June 21st.


Underrated: Valiant Masters: Ninjak: Black Water

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Valiant Masters: Ninjak: Black Water.

Ever since I’ve started to collect Valiant comics, I’ve been picking up the hardcover deluxe editions here and there as a way to catch up in bulk on some of the series I’ve missed, and also because I just like the look of them. A while back I did a cost analysis as to whether it was worth buying the deluxe editions verses the softcover trades or single issue floppies at cover price; generally the savings were negligible depending on the size of the book (less than $5, I think) between the hardcovers and soft covers, but the difference between the hard covers and cover price floppies varied greatly depending on how many books were collected (and it didn’t factor in the cost of the floppies after they’ve been on the market for a while, as they can fluctuate higher or lower depending on different trends).

This is relevant only because the Valiant Masters hardcovers generally contain the first eight issues of the original Valiant series (either 1-8 or 0-7 depending on the stories within), which means that for $25 you end up paying about $3.25 a comic. Whether that’s a good price for the early Valiant books depends on which book you’re looking at; I’ve paid $20 for the first appearance of Rai, $6 for the first appearance of Ninjak and around $1 for others, so it’s largely a crap shoot, but for the most part the individual issues collected in the Valiant Masters are going to be cheaper than the hardcover itself depending on which one you’re looking at.

The point I’m making here is that while I’m talking about the hardcover today, in reality I’m really looking at the eight issues within the book (Ninjak #1-6, before giving us his origin with issues #0 and #00), and those you can probably find easier than the hardcover which may be out of print now. The floppies will likely be cheaper given how out of print Valiant hardcovers tend to sell for higher than cover price.

Perhaps my favourite aspect of these Masters editions is in comparing what I know about the characters from their 2012 relaunch and the versions that appeared in the 90’s. The Ninjak of the 90’s had his differences from the modern version; born to English parents as part of an experiment to grow enhanced humans, he grew up in Japan and learned the ways of the ninja from a temple he sought refuge in after his father was murdered. The rest, his technology and such, differ only in what was conceivable to the writers of the time.

Black Water has the titular ninja taking down an international conglomerate. It sounds fairly cliche now, but the story’s echoes of Batman and James Bond set it apart from the general run of the mill hero vs corporation stories. The story is only the first two issues of the series and , but by the time that story had wrapped I felt like I’d read a full trade – one of my favourite things about comics from the 90’s and before has always been the amount of content packed into each issue. The first six issues we get are wonderful. Reading these, and the other early Valiant, I can understand why the publisher gained such a strong following over the years. Compact, exciting, and with some truly exciting art (I acknowledge that comic art has come a long way since the 90’s, but these issues of Ninjak hold up very well even today).

There may only be a limited number of folks left who, like me, want to explore the original Valiant comics of the 90’s that haven’t already done so, but these hardcover editions are a brilliant gateway to the past, and great encouragement to go hunting for the comics that haven’t been collected – and may never be at this point. That’s why I think these books are underrated; because so few of you will be looking for them. Which is a shame because those early Valiant stories are fantastic.

Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Review: The Visitor #6

The Visitor #6

The Visitor pulls the trigger on tomorrow once and for all in the epic finale in The Visitor #6!

I’m sure the huge gap between the 4th and 5th issues hasn’t done The Visitor any favors at all. Before the pandemic shut things down, I recall enjoying the first five issues about as much as I would a lukewarm curry (believe it or not I don’t mind lukewarm curry – it still tastes just as good – but I’d much prefer it hot); unfortunately, the gap between issues has really sucked any momentum from the series. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was going on when I read issue five, but with the final issue in the miniseries, I realize that I’ve become somewhat indifferent to the Visitor and his quest.

The Visitor #6 is written by Paul Levitz and features artist MJ Kim, colorist Ulises Arreola, and letterer Simon Bowland, and finds the Visitor and his new ally Agent Dauber trying to stop the malicious program from being created – for fans of Rai, it’s a nice nod to the origins of Father, though I feel the reveal of Dr. Silk as one of New Japan’s architects was stunningly underwhelming (not that I wasn’t surprised, because I had no idea, but because the reveal came from nowhere and if you haven’t been reading Valiant for sometime, then it will mean next to nothing to you). honestly at this point it felt like the story was written hastily to reveal that tidbit, and we’re all missing that entirely.

The Visitor #6 doesn’t quite end the story on a whimper because there’s a lot of action in the book, I’m just not invested enough in the story any more. Despite the comic revealing some key information about the Valiant Universe (namely Dr. Silk’s involvement with the creation of New Japan), it is far from required reading at this point in the game – and you can get the key information online (or even just in this paragraph). If you’re only going to buy one book from Valiant this month, don’t make it this one – search your LCS for Cullen Bunn’s Shadowman #1 instead if you really want to get into the publisher’s characters. Read it if you care how the story ends, but I wouldn’t recommend the series at this point.

Story: Paul Levitz Art: MJ Kim
Color: Diego Rodriguez Letterer: Simon Bowland
Story: 6.0 Art: 7 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Preview: The Visitor #6 (of 6)

THE VISITOR #6 (of 6)

Written by PAUL LEVITZ
Art by MJ KIM
Cover B by ALAN QUAH
On sale JUNE 16th | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

The Visitor pulls the trigger on tomorrow once and for all in the epic finale…

THE VISITOR #6 (of 6)

Lysa Hawkins Takes Us Into the Shadowy World of Ninjak

Ninjak #1

Valiant Entertainment’s top superspy is stepping out of the shadows…

From Ringo Award-winning writer Jeff Parker and artist Javier PulidoNinjak #1 follows Colin King, aka Ninjak, as the secret operative is on the run after the identity of every MI6 agent is exposed. Now, Colin must embark on a global adventure to evade the deadly people who have him in their sights…

Ninjak #1by writer Jeff Parker, artist Javier Pulido, and letterer Dave Sharpe goes on sale July 14th, 2021, and features covers by David NakayamaCaspar WijngaardDamion Scott, Ibrahim Moustafa, and Javier Pulido.

We got a chance to ask Ninjak editor Lysa Hawkins about the series and what we can expect in the latest take of Valiant’s superspy.

Graphic Policy: Hey Lysa, how’re things?

Lysa Hawkins: I’m fully vaccinated! Things are a lot brighter now!

GP: So, Ninjak. How would you describe him to somebody who has no idea what to expect?

LYSA: I like to say Ninjak is the love child of James Bond and Modesty Blaise, so you really don’t know what to expect.

GP: How has the experience been editing Ninjak? Are there any differences between this book and others you’ve edited?

LYSA: Did I mention I love James Bond and Modesty Blaise? Working on a spy thriller is very near and dear to me. I’ve been blessed at Valiant to have my toe dipped in many different genre pools. Horror, sci fi, action-adventure, supernatural and now spy thriller. I’m feeling pretty lucky.

Ninjak #1

GP: The last time we saw Ninjak he’d severed ties with MI6 – will we see what happened in the immediate aftermath?

LYSA: Yes and no. Our story takes place a few months after he left MI6, but you do learn what Colin has been up to since departing from MI6.

GP: How did the creative team come together?

LYSA: Synchronicity! I actually had Javier on board before I found Jeff, which is unusual as it’s usually the other way around. When I read Jeff’s script I could just see what I thought Javier would bring to the table, of course I was wrong. He brought so much more!

GP: Javier Pulido’s art style is a departure from what we’ve seen in the past when it comes to Ninjak books. Can you talk a little about that?

LYSA: Denny O’Neill once wrote a great article talking about your favorite Batman, as we have seen so many incarnations of the Dark Knight over the years. It’s the same with Ninjak.  He is a universal character that will have many different art styles over the years. If this isn’t your Ninjak, just wait, yours will pop back up eventually. Javier is bringing something new to Ninjak, which I find very exciting and appealing, and while the style is different, the character is thoroughly all Ninjak.

GP: We’ve seen a few pages already, but can you tease any more about the series’ direction?

LYSA: You ain’t seen nothing yet! No, seriously, Javier pushes the boundaries of the art on every page resulting in an exciting, joy ride of action. 

Ninjak #1

GP: The series sees the identities of the MI6 agents exposed. It feels like that’s a pretty relevant story with today’s concerns over data and privacy and even some of the secrets that have been leaked out.

LYSA: Without a doubt, this tale is very much set in our modern world. One of the things I like the most about playing in the Valiant Universe. It walks that fine line of fiction and reality.

GP: Ninjak feels like one of the more high-profile British comic characters out there. How much does that play into the character and is there work to try to get that detail “right”?

LYSA: Well, if it’s done right, you hear his voice in your head sounding British. I happen to think Jeff nails it. Not only is Colin completely British, he’s also deadpan and funny.

Ninjak #1

GP: What sets this book apart from the other Ninjak stories we’ve had from Valiant over the years?

LYSA: It looks unlike any other Ninjak book previously. It gets to push the envelope further because of the art style and the reader gets to go along for the ride.

GP: Valiant has always been impressive to us in that it balances stories that can be enjoyed by themselves and the greater interconnected stories and world. How difficult is it to balance that?

LYSA: We are the Valiant Universe. We are meant to be enjoyed on our own or together, always one expanding universe. 

GP: What are you the most excited for about this book?

LYSA: Gosh! Everything! I think you’ll like Myna. She’s a great new character. 

GP: Thanks for your time!

LYSA: Thank you! And Stay Valiant!

Review: The Visitor #5

The Visitor #5

With only two of the Visitor’s targets left standing, what extreme lengths will he go to in order to finish the job? Find out as The Visitor #5 returns the series to the stands.

It has been more than a year since I read an issue of The Visitor, and in that time I’ve read a lot of comics (unfortunately due to a harddrive crash I’ve lost the pdfs that I would have used to refresh myself on the story, and my floppy issues are in a short box somewhere that isn’t as organized as I want it to be), and so I’m going into this using only my memory and the recap page to catch up with the story so far. The recap page does well enough to bring a person up to speed with the events of the previous four issues, thankfully, because I don’t know how well my memory was doing.

After over a year waiting for The Visitor to return, I’ll freely admit that I’m not sure it was worth the wait. The comic wasn’t bad, but it definitely suffers from the extended break; a lot of the characters were unfamiliar to me once again, but this is an easy fix if you reread the previous couple of issues.

The Visitor #5 is written by Paul Levitz and features artist MJ Kim, colorist Ulises Arreola, and letterer Simon Bowland. I previously wrote that “[the comic] follows the titular character as he’s trying to eliminate something that the Japanese scientists he’s hunting are working on and the UN Security agent Dauber assigned to protect them. Levitz keeps things entirely believable when the scientists keep frustrating Dauber’s efforts to keep them safe by insisting on their secrecy as they all underestimate the Visitor.” It’s still true. so I’m leaving it here because I don’t need to update the summary from the second to the fifth issue, really. The chase is now just a little further ahead, although with the fifth issue of The Visitor we finally understand what the program is that the scientists are working on, and knowing what it is will give some longtime Valiant readers an idea as to how the book will end.

There were a couple of moments where the art didn’t make sense to me from a chronological point of view; specifically when the Visitor confronts Dauber, initially it looks like he does so in front of a crowd of armed guards, though the following panels indicate she’s nowhere near any guards. It’s not a story breaker for me, but it definitely took me out of the comic for a bit.

The Visitor‘s return wasn’t bad, but this isn’t a comic for anybody other than those who have read the first four issues and want to know how the story ends.

Story: Paul Levitz Art: MJ Kim
Color: Diego Rodriguez Letterer: Simon Bowland
Story: 6.9 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

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