Tag Archives: ninjak

Review: Ninja-K #14

NINJA-K_COVER_BFINAL ISSUE! England’s top spy has gone rogue!

After going back on his word to find and apprehend his former lover, the super-powered fugitive called Livewire, Ninjak is now on the run from MI6 himself! So, what on earth could force him to travel to the very heart of London?

When your time is coming to an end, what do you do? If you asked Christos Gage what he planned to do with the final issue of Ninja-K I’d like to think he’d smile. I don’t know him, so consequently I didn’t ask him, but if I wa writing a series like this and wanted to wrap it up in style, I’d consider myself lucky if I did it half as well as Gage did with Ninja-K 14 in what is essentially a standalone story that wraps up all of the loose ends that I can think of (or rather all that I care about) in a remarkably neat package.

The plot itself is relatively simple, but the insights we get into Ninjak as he narrates the simple, action packed evening adventure are fascinatingly revelatory when it comes to  Gage’s run on the character. Storywise, you really couldn’t ask for a better cap to a fantastic run. Artistically? It could have been better.

Roberto De  La Torre has a very unique style that I’ve struggled with during his time on this series. Ninja-K #14 is a comic of two halves; there are moments of pure brilliance that are off set by sequences where you really have no bloody clue what’s going on. However. There’s a very good chance that in print (or on a non-watermarked digital copy) that the art will be less muddled – and because I won’t be able to pick up my print copy for almost a week after publication date, I’m willing to give the art the benefit of the doubt based upon the previous issue holding up better in person than on the review copy I read at first.

Ultimately, despite some questions on the art, this is a book that is well worth reading, and fans who have read thus far are going to be very happy with the final product. Whether it’s worth picking this up just for the standalone story, well personally I think it is. This comic give you enough context (yay recap page!) that you are more than capable of enjoying the story within without any fear of feeling lost or confused as the events unfold across the page. We’ve already said “so long” to another Valiant series this month as Quantum And Woody gave us perhaps the best farewell issue I’ve ever read, but Christos Gage and Ninja-K #14 sure gave it a run for its money.

Story: Christos Gage Art: Roberto De La Torre
Colours: Jose Villarrubia Letters: A Larger World Studios
Story: 9.5 Art: 8.1 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Ninja-K #12

NINJA-K_012_COVER-A_KANOWith the fate of the Eternal Warrior hanging in the balance, Ninjak has tracked The Dying One – a being who reemerges in a new human body whenever they die – to a small town outside of Chernobyl. But Colin King is about to uncover secrets more unsettling than the loss of his friend Gilad. Abandoned in the wilds of the Russian wilderness, the world’s most dangerous super-spy must now survive against an unthinkable onslaught of science experiments from the twisted mind of his immortal foe!

I’m going to start off by saying I have read Ninja-K #12 twice, and both times  I found the art a little tough to penetrate, which I both enjoyed and didn’t all in the same breath. Roberto De La Torre‘s line work is very reminiscent of the 2000AD comics I read as a youngling where some of the strips would be much darker and far more murky than others. It had the effect of lending a very horror-esque atmosphere to the panels, drenching each page with an atmosphere that you would struggle to achieve otherwise. Conversely, it also meant the art was a little harder to read at first glance which encouraged the reader to really take in each page.

Likewise, Ninja-K #12.

The art is also hampered by, or enhanced by depending on your preference, the nearly monotone colouring of Jose Villarrubia. For the most parrt it worked for me, but there were moments when I found it took me a few moments to properly process what was happening during a fight scene. It is a dark and murky issue, which does fit with the theme of the story, but may turn some away from being able to fully enjoy the comic.

Which is a shame, because Christos Gage has written a really interesting issue. With the Dying One inhabiting the Eternal Warrior’s body, and having committed untold atrocities whilst doing so, we finally get to see Ninjak face off against his friend’s body after having cut his way past the henchmen of the Dying One. What I quite enjoyed is that never once is Ninjak focused on stopping the Dying One and saving thse he has manipulated verses saving his friend. It’s an interesting development for a character that has frequently been portrayed as having troubles connecting with people, because this isn’t a mission Ninjak is being paid to undertake we’re seeing the character’s genuine motivations.

Ninjak-K #12 has the potential to be a divisive comic based on the art, and while I enjoyed the visuals of the comic I can understand why you may not. Fortunately, the story more than makes up for any shortcoming you may see in the art. If you’ve been reading the arc so far, then there’s no reason for you to stop.

Story: Christos Gage Art: Roberto De La Torre
Colours: Jose Villarrubia Letters: A Larger World Studios
Story: 8.8 Art: 7.9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Ninja-K #11

NINJA-K_011_COVER-A_KANOThe Coalition may have been defeated…but the mission’s not over yet! Now, Ninjak must use all the super-spy skills at his disposal to save Gilad from the clutches of his friend’s erstwhile nemesis, the Dying One. But stopping an immortal genius – especially one armed with the full might of the Eternal Warrior – is a fight that not even MI6’s best and brightest secret agent can prepare for!

I’m a little conflicted on the art for this issue. Roberto De La Torre‘s art is both very detailed and yet full of oddly murky moments where it can be a little tough to decipher what’s occuring on the page – it’s possible this is due to the review copy water mark, or is a deliberate style choice to emphasize Ninjak’s ability to blend into his surroundings (because he’s a ninja) rather than a case of the art and colouring not working as well as it could. The reason I’m conflicted about the art is that I love the murky style as it feels like to 2000AD comics I read as a youngling back in England.

Speaking of murky, Ninja-K #11‘s story thrives in the shadowy world of spymasters, mercenaries and ethically questionable moments as the titular hero scrathes somebody’s back so they scratch his. The back and forth during this sequence between Ninjak and Neville is really well done; the verbal chess match feels every bit as tense and exciting as the action scenes to come (complete with their own questionable moment).  Stripping this book down, you get a great sense of who Ninjak is at his core as you see him make choice after choice that borders on the questionable – but makes for some really ineresting comics as each choice is within character and understandable from a story perspective.

And ultimately that is something to get excited about with your comics; something that makes you think about what the characters are doing, and whether you’re comfortable agreeing with their choices.

Story: Christos Gage Art: Roberto De La Torre
Colourist: Jose Villarrubia Letters: A Larger World Studio
Story: 8.9 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Ninja-K #10

NINJA-K_010_COVER-A_CAMUNCOLIFrom the encrypted files of The Ninja Programme, another secret chapter revealed! The Cold War is in full swing and the United Kingdom’s top-secret intelligence unit has come to a crossroads. As their once-elite collection of secret agents finds itself outmatched by the escalation of the United States’ H.A.R.D. Corps division, the spymasters of MI6 are about to develop a new kind of soldier for their never-ending war of global gamesmanship and international intrigue. Part man, part machine, and bound together with the most extreme technological enhancements that the 1980s have to offer, NINJA-H is faster, stronger, and deadlier than any who have come before…

Ninja-K #10 serves both as a bridge between the last arc and the one that kicks off next issue, and as a fantastic jumping on point for new readers. Christos Gage has penned a fantastic one-shot story that focuses as much on Ninja-H as it does Ninja-K; and by doing this we get a deeper understanding of where Colin King stands after all he has uncovered about MI6’s Ninja Programme. It’s a clever way of advancing the long game in the background as we’re placated with one of the more interesting agents of the Ninja Programme we’ve seen so far.

As far as superhero comics go, this is a remarkably complete offering. We’ve got the tragic story, the brilliant choreography, and a story that holds more emotional revelations than you’d expect given the ninja verses ninja set up.

Larry StromanRyan Winn and Andrew Dalhouse deliver a near flawless offering on art duties (pencils, inks and colours respectively), with only a panel or two containing slightly unnaturally posed or shaped figures. Those figures aside, each page is a masterfully composed piece of art that brings Gage’s script to a vividly brutal life. Oddly enough, the single issue story in Ninja-K #10 really is the best jumping on point you’re likely to find unless you start from the first issue (and really, I’d suggest you do if you have the means and are even a little curious).

Christos Gage has been writing some of the bet Ninjak I have ever read – this issue is a great example of that, and a great gateway to character for new readers.

Writer: Christos Gage Pencils: Larry Stroman
Inks: Ryan Winn Colours: Andrew Dalhouse
Story: 9 Art: 8.9 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Ninja-K #9

NINJA-K_008_COVER-B_QUAH“It all comes down to this! Ninjak – plus his black-ops backup squad of Livewire, Punk Mambo, Doctor Mirage, and GIN-GR – have been sent into Mexico City to destroy an indestructible target! But their quarry – The Jonin, the Ninja Programme’s seemingly ageless former sensei – has assembled his own strike force of improbable powers to meet them head on!”

The final pages of Ninja-K #8 had me giddy with excitement as possibly my favourite character in the Valiant Universe made his reappearance (needless to say if you haven’t read the previous issue, spoilers will be found ahead – though if you pay attention to the cover you can figure that out)

Both this and the previous issue of Ninja-K have built upon the slower paced Ninja-K #6 with an explosively frenetic story that is all action and very little plot. I’m not complaining about that, however, as Juan Jose Ryp is unleashed to depict the havoc of battle as only he can. With his kinetic and hyper detailed style, Ryp barrels us through the conclusion of the current chapter in Colin King’s life with all the delicacy of a hot knife through a helium balloon. It is glorious, thanks in no small part to Jordie Bellaire’s colouring work that bring out the detail in Ryp’s work and allows the reader’s eye to flow along the artwork.

Christos Gage clearly wanted to let the artists shine, and in doing that they pull a comic that suffers in the plot department into must buy territory; Gage’s plot could easily be simplified down into a single line (but then if you can break Lord Of The Rings down to “people walk a long way to return stolen property” you can break everything down quite a bit, so this is a meaningless criticism, and I am aware of that). But it’s a single line that brings back one of my favourite Valiant characters, sets up an interesting new faction in the Valiant Universe and leaves our hero surprisingly vulnerable while providing some freaking amazing visual set pieces.

Sometimes, simple is exactly what you need.

Story: Christos Gage Art: Juan Jose Ryp
Colours: Jordie Bellaire Letters: A Larger World Studios
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Review: Ninja-K #8

NINJA-K_008_COVER-A_ZONJICColin King has recruited a highly skilled team of black ops specialists – including Livewire, Dr. Mirage, Punk Mambo, and the robotic alien colossus called GIN-GR – for the ultimate search-and-destroy mission! The Jonin, the mysterious mentor behind the program that trained MI6’s elite ninja assassins, has resurfaced in Mexico City at the head of a covert cabal of long-lived and near-immortal renegades with incredible powers…and a mission that could destabilize human civilization as we know it!

I haven’t been as happy with a comic as I was when I finished Ninja-K #8 in a long time. But I’m jumping ahead of myself here.

Last issue saw Ninjak assemble a team of Valiant heroes of various talents geared specifically to take on a villainous cabal who may have slightly got the drop on our heroes at the end of Ninja-K #7. Picking up right where the previous issue left off, we get to see a very fast paced airborne sequence that transitions to  the confrontation that Christos Gage spent all of last issue building toward. And it’s a confrontation that lasts for almost the entire comic in what proves to be a frantic action sequence that gives each character a chance to shine – all the while you’re never quite sure who could actually be considered as winning the fight. What you can be sure of, however, is that between Juan Jose Ryp and Jordie Bellaire you couldn’t expect a better illustrated battle. Bellaire’s colours are a wonderful counterpoint to the detailed line work of Ryp, the colourist brings out the detail in a way that never leaves the reader feeling over stimulated as they feast their eyes upon the chaos within the pages of the comic.

The plot itself is fairly straight forward, and barely needs any space to talk about other than to say that this is a comic where the art is the focus – I’m not saying the plot is bad, far from it, because this action packed issue is the result of the slower paced Ninja-K #7, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But the most exciting thing about this comic, for me? Well that’d be spoiler I won’t be giving – you’ll just have to read right to the end to find out what had me grinning from ear to ear upon finishing Ninja-K #8.

Story: Christos Gage Art: Juan Jose Ryp
Colours: Jordie Bellaire Letters: A Larger World Studio
Story: 8.6  Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Ninja-K #7

NINJA-K_007_COVER-B_QUAHFor decades, the mysterious figure known as the Jonin trained and tutored the agents of MI-6’s Ninja Programme. In his hands, the men and women of Britain’s most elite secret service were refined into more than spies… They became human weapons capable of inflicting extraordinary damage and defying the laws of nature itself. Now, after decades thought dead, this master killer has resurfaced…and recruited a new circle of undying, seemingly ageless powerhouses from across the Valiant Universe for reasons unknown. The Jonin’s revenge will cast a long shadow – and, to meet it head on, Ninjak has assembled his own squadron of heavy-hitting heroes – including Livewire, Dr. Mirage, Punk Mambo, and GIN-GR – for the ultimate black-ops mission!

A literal team building issue as a recovering Ninjak pulls himself back together after barely escaping in one piece from infiltrating the headquarters of the Jonin, with more than half of the comic dedicated to establishing Ninjak’s relationships with the rest of the newly assembled team. There’s no lengthy exposition to set the stage, rather the body language and odd comment from the titular hero as he becomes aware of each person he’ll be working with to take on the Jonin – the man who trained most of Ninjak’s predecessors.

With the appearance of Dr. Mirage, Christos Gage is able to inject some humour into an otherwise serious comic without ever compromising the feel of the series. Despite the impending doom the team will soon have to face, there is a lot of slower moments that allow readers unfamiliar with the rest of the Valiant Universe to get a sense of who the characters are beyond Ninjak’s relationship with them, with the end result being a book that doesn’t feel like an entry in Ninjak’s solo series, but instead reads as a team book.  When it comes to the art, again, the comic is a winner. Juan Jose Ryp and Jordie Bellaire are top tier talent, and they show you why that’s the case with a varied colour pallet that highlights some wonderfully  diverse backdrops and close detail.

As you can tell, I don’t have too much to say about this issue; it’s a good read, brilliant to look at, but it didn’t generate an awful lot of loquaciousness within your humble reviewer. Essentially, if you’ve enjoyed the series so far then you’ll enjoy this.

Story: Christos Gage Art: Juan Jose Ryp
Colours: Jordie Bellaire Letterer: Dave Lanphear
Story: 8.4 Art: 8.9 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Some Brief Thoughts On Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe Episode 1

ninjak vs1.jpgThe day has finally come when Valiant Entertainment and Bat In The Sun have released the formerly highly anticipated first episode of the webseries Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe. In fact, there’s a chance that the second and third episodes will be out now, too, due to the daily release schedule. To judge this against other comic book live action properties edges upon the unfair; the production budget is a fraction of those that the MCU or DCEU movies receive, and the acting isn’t on the same level as the performances of Chadwick Boseman, Hugh Jackman, or Gal Gadot – nor should you expect it to be.

Does one compare it to the live action television offerings we have received thus far? Does Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe hold up against the likes of Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Constantine? Even though some of comic book TV from the past five years has had its up and downs, the first episodes were more than likely made with a higher budget than the entire Ninjak Vs webseries has.

No, instead if you’re looking for a comparison then one should look to prior projects from Bat In The Sun. And when you do that, the first episode was alright. So allow me give you my thoughts on the first episode in bullet point form.

  • Ninjak is English. Michael Rowe doesn’t try an English accent. This bothered me more than anything.
  • The acting is about on par for a webseries
  • The plot is thin, and is solely a device to have a superhero beat down. Sadly there are numerous plot inconsistencies, and you really need to suspend your disbelief.
  • Fortunately, the choreography is actually pretty good and lends the fight scenes a weight that is missing from those in Arrow.
  • Archer and Armstrong are the highlight in terms of reflection to the source material. Watch it for their scene and Ninjak fighting.

Again, you really can’t judge this against any comic book movie or TV show – and when you do that’s where the webseries starts to fall to pieces. The title alone gives you all you need to know about the first webisode – this really is just a more complex superhero beatdown than we’re used to seeing from Bat In The Sun, and so long as you go in expecting that you won’t be disappointed.

Those Two Geeks Episode Twenty Two: Planes, Tangents and More

On the docket this week: The geeks use fancy editing to cobble together both halves of the podcast after the recording stopped midway through. I Love Tom King, But… makes another return as do the tangents the geek are known for. Joe also had some trouble at the airport.

As always, the Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jc_hesh if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter or email ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week in the future!

Review: Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #4

NJKVS_004_COVER-A_LEVELHis allies have turned against him. His last options have been exhausted. And there is nowhere left to run. Now, Ninjak – the rogue super-spy turned against his former masters by the cunning assassin called Roku – must face the final revelation of his no-holds-barred showdown with the heroes of the Valiant Universe. Bloodied but unbowed, Colin King’s gauntlet ends here…and Valiant’s first-of-its-kind crossover between live action and the comic book page is about to come to an explosive finale that will leave you stunned!

Alright so I’m not to try to sugar coat anything, but in an effort to refrain from an angry rant, I’ve used bullet points to gather my thoughts about Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #4.

  • This four issue miniseries is set in a separate universe from the rest of Valiant’s comics. If you read this prior to anything else, expect to be a little confused when things aren’t the same (but happy that the writing is better).
  • If you consider a “first-of-its-kind” crossover to be an adaptation of live action and comics, you’re behind a couple decades. This may be the first crossover from webseries to comics, however. Maybe  that’s what they mean.
  • Expecting the typical quality that you would ordinarily get from a direct tie-in comic (and not an adaptation like, say, the Bloodborne comics are adapted from the videogames) will leave little room for dissapointment.
  • Eliot Rahal is a much better comic book writer than he’s showing here, because at the end of the day he’s only got so much to work with. You can only polish a turd so much, really, and even then it’s still a turd.
  • The art by Joe BennettBelardino Brabo and Ulises Arreola remain the only saving grace for an issue that caps off perhaps the worst thing Valiant have published in the last three years.
  • If you want a better story starring all the Valiant characters read The Valiant. If you want a better Ninjak story look up Ninja-K or Bloodshot Salvation to get a small dash of Ninjak with Bloodshot.

I am oddly relieved this series is over, because it wasn’t really all that good (if you enjoyed it then fair play to you. I’m not saying you’re wrong, only that we hav different opinions). I tried to find the good in it (the art, mostly), but the pervading sense I got from the entire series was that it was a poor adaptation of another story. This doesn’t read like the kind of comic Valiant, or Eliot Rahal are capable of putting out, nor like the story was ever written for comics. It’s shoehorned into the four colour medium and it doesn’t work. Hopefully the webseries that this is adapted from will be better than the series, but after having read the comics I’m not holding out much hope of anything more than a brief diversion.

Screen story: Aaron Schoenke
Screenplay: Aaron Schoenke, Sean Schoenke, Joe Harris and Andrew Rowe
Comic Script
: Eliot Rahal Art: Joe Bennett
Ink: Belardino Brabo Color: Ulises Arreola
Story: 4.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 5.0
Recommendation: Read it if you’ve come this far. Don’t start if you haven’t.

Thankfully, Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

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