Tag Archives: ninjak

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.

Review: Ninja-K #6

NINJA_K_006_COVER-A_ZONJICA once-loyal agent has defected from the ranks of MI6’s most elite espionage unit…and Ninjak has been dispatched across the globe to prevent his secrets from plunging the world into chaos. But in the shadows of Mexico City, Colin King is about to discover something far more deadly… The Ninja Programme’s own former sensei, the Jonin, has assembled a conspiratorial circle of enigmatic enemies – the Dying One, Kostiy the Deathless, Linton March, and The United’s Ultimo – for a purpose so sinister that even Ninjak can’t risk engaging them alone. Enter Livewire, Punk Mambo, Dr. Mirage, and GIN-GR – Ninjak’s brand-new black ops team with a very specific set of skills…and a license to kill the unkillable!

If I were a man given to profanity (and I am) then I’d litter the  opening to this review with a couple of choice words to emphasize my enjoyment. (but, oddly enough, I tend to shy away from profanity in writing). I’m writing this with two days and several comics between the review and the reading of Ninja-K #6, and it feels like I only read this comic about an hour ago.

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Ninja-K #6 kicks off a new arc for the series, and yes it is a place that allows new readers the chance to effortlessly pull on a ninja mask and sneak down the alleys and over the rooftops to live your own adventure as… yeah, that’s  a terrible analogy. My point is that this is a comic that encourages new readers into the series. And what a series.

After the events of the last arc (helpfully recapped, but not enough to spoil the story should you chose to pick up the trade) this issue sees Ninja-K going after a rogue operative of the Ninja Programme. There’s not a whole lot to the plot itself, but there doesn’t need to be because we get a brilliantly action packed comic that has our favourite ninja in way over his head on a mission that should be relatively simple. Christos Gage does all the little things right in this comic, and never over explains or over plays his hand, instead allowing the talents of artists Juan Jose Ryp and colorist Jordie  Bellaire to shine through.

This series has been consistently brilliant, and is one of the jewels in Valiant’s very bedazzled crown. Miss this and miss out on a great action comic.

Story: Christos Gage Art: Juan Jose Ryp Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Story: 8.8 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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

Review: Ninja-K #4

NINJA-K_004_COVER-A_CAFU

At the height of 1970s Britain, MI-6’s covert “Ninja Programme” has just activated its first female agent: NINJA-G! As financial instability grips the nation and anarchy brews in the streets, can MI-6’s newest ninja recruit counter a steady tide of double agents, double crosses, and dueling nation states that will take her from the leather-padded corridors of London to the most severe corners of the Soviet Bloc? The life expectancy of a ninja agent is never long…but just how and why are NINJA-G’s missions still impacting Ninjak’s deadly manhunt in the modern day? And could her legacy hold the secret to decoding the murders of the Ninja Programme’s last surviving members – before Colin King is scratched off the list once and for all?

Now that Ninja-K has been told that MI6 has been manipulating his life, and the lives of all previous Ninja Programme operatives, he’s doing what anyone should before reacting with the lethal effectiveness he is known for; obtaining proof. Enter the reclusive Ninja-G and her seventies-set story. Although you’ll want to be familiar with the previous three issues for Ninja-K’s story, you’re still able to pick up and enjoy this issue if you want to read about a capable, kick ass former ninja.

There’s not a whole lot to talk about with the comic itself, honestly. Ninja-K #4 is a solid entry into the series, and meets the high standards set by the first three issues; the main story is a slowly burning flame that rewards patience with an intelligently written script that has refused to rush from action scene to action scene needlessly. Christos Gage knows how to tease a story along without prolonging it needlessly – I’m enjoying the first arc and almost don’t want to see the arc come to a close.

Ninja-K #4 is, to borrow a sports analogy, a solid scoring triple. A few seconds from a home run, but damn close (I don’t do sports much – was that right?)

Story: Christos Gage Juan Jose Ryp Colourist: Andrew Dalhouse
Back Up Story Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Ninja-K #3

NINJA-K_003_COVER-A_HAIRSINE“At last, Ninjak is about to find himself face-to-face with the surgically precise killer that has been eliminating the operatives of MI-6’s most elite intelligence service – the deep-black training unit known as the “Ninja Programme” – one by one. But this shocking truth will also bring a devastating realization about Colin King’s own past screaming into the modern day… With a gun at his back and a sword at his side, Britain’s most elite super-spy is about to have his faith in queen and country tested like never before…”

I’ve been trying to think of how to start talking about this book without just spewing hyperbolic superlatives and praise right from the get go, but it’s tough. I really loved this book.  The preview text above actually understates the impact of this book for Ninjak during his confrontation with the series’ villain; although, calling the character a villain is doing a disservice to the complexity of the character and Christos Gage‘s story.

NINJA-K_003_004

Whilst Ninja-K reveals the dark history of the Ninja Programme through some well written dialogue, your eyes are treated to some freaking brilliant action scenes. Tomas Giorello‘s  produces some utterly wonderful pages – whomever ends up owning the original art work here is going to a lucky sod. Diego Rodriguez uses a colour pallet that’s heavily reliant of blues and purples, which at times has the effect of blending the two ninjas into the background as they interact. You may think that this would be a bad thing, that the art would turn out muddied and blase, but that’s far from the case. Although the coloured art has moments where the ninjas blend into the page, it’s done when there’s less action on the page which only heightens the emphasis that these men are living, and very lethal, ghosts.

 

There is literally nothing I can (truthfully) say against the art in this comic.

Oh, and there’s also a really cool back up story as well, featuring art by Ariel Olivetti that takes place during the first world war and focuses on Ninja-A, scratching the itch of those of us who need to learn more about the previous ten ninjas to have been apart of the Ninja Programme. It’s a nice addition to a comic that’s already well worth your time and money, increasing the value-for-money substantially when you look at the quality of the creative output.

Yes, my friends, I am more than happy to say that without a doubt, Ninja-K is currently one of the best series currently being published by any publisher, and is an absolute must read. This is a prime example of what a comic should strive to be.

 Story: Christos Gage Art: Tomas Giorello Colourist: Diego Rodriguez
Story: 9 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.9 Recommendation: Buy

Although Valiant provided a FREE copy for review, I picked up this comic from my LCS

Review: Ninja-K #2

NINJA-K_002_COVER-A_HAIRSINE

“One by one, the operatives of MI-6’s covert “Ninja Programme” are being murdered by an unseen threat that is as mysterious as it is deadly. But who could possibly have the knowledge and expertise to eliminate the lethal men and women of Britain’s most secret service…and why are they hellbent on reaping revenge against Colin King and his predecessors? As the walls close in around him, Ninjak must confront the bloodstained legacy that spawned him… before his own name gets crossed off the list…”

It has been a long time since I’ve been as excited to read a new issue as I was when I picked up Ninja-K #2The first issue encapsulated almost everything I love about Valiant comics with its ability to pull the reader into an unfamiliar world with ease, before scratching the surface of the characters within the story (which is all you needed in that issue) while simultaneously hinting at the deeper layers of their relationships that have been built on and off page in their previous appearances all wrapped up in a suitably gritty and fantastic art package. So it is with some excitement that I dropped everything when Graphic Policy’s Blogger-In-Chief Brett sent me the review copy and immediately dove right into the issue at hand.

I am utterly ecstatic to report, dear readers, that Ninja-K #2 is every bit as good as the first issue.

We get less of a background on MI6’s Ninja Programme, although it is still present, and a bit more of a focus on Ninjak, or Ninja-K, himself this issue as he tries to figure out who is responsible for picking off the former Ninja operatives. The comic balances some fantastic action sequences with the slower paced more story driven aspect of the comic  incredibly well, with neither throwing the pace of the comic out of whack; the non-action parts a brimming with an underlying tension that, for this humble reviewer at least,  is more enthralling than the explosive action early in the comic.

Christos Gage‘s script is great, but it’s when you see Tomas Giorello‘s art and the muted vibrancy of Diego Rodriguez‘s colours that the comic becomes a shining example of what is possible within the medium. Ninja-K is perfect for readers who want an intelligent thriller that doesn’t hand feed you the details (and yet doesn’t make them obscure enough that only hardcore fans can figure them out). Frankly, this is one of the top series on the racks at the moment, and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t it.

Story: Christos Gage Art: Tomas Giorello Colours: Diego Rodriguez
Story: 9.3 Art: 9.15 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided a FREE copy for review. I’m buying a copy anyway.

Underrated: Valiant’s Comics

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: the comics from comic book publisher Valiant Entertainment


 

I’m not going to lie to you, folks. I haven’t had a lot of time (or desire, truth be told) to read comics over the last couple of weeks, so I was sat in front of my laptop on a Friday night (yup, the height of socialization, me) wondering what the bloody hell I could write about for this week’s Underrated knowing that I had less than twelve hours to get something halfway decent, maybe even entertaining, written for your enjoyment.

Well I got something written, but I’ll leave it to you to tell me if it’s enjoyable.

Inspiration struck when I noticed a certain email containing  review copies of a couple of pop up in my inbox and I realized that for the first time in a couple of weeks I was genuinely excited. The comics in question, rather obviously, came from Valiant. And that got me thinking about the series that Valiant have been publishing over the past year, and which you should be reading.

XO2017_TPB_001_COVER_LAROSA

  • X-O Manowar (2017) After the first series concluded after 50 issues, Valiant relaunched X-O Manorwar with a new creative team who took the character into the far reaches of space. Aric of Dacia is a time displaced Visigoth prince in command of arguably the most powerful weapon in the universe – the X-O Manowar armour. On the planet Gorin, Aric has found a peaceful existence that is disturbed when he’s conscripted into a war not his own. A war he wants to fight without the armour.

    The retired gunslinger style story is set against fantastic operatic visuals that leave you in no doubt as to the setting, and odds, of the war depicted in a series that has been getting better with each issue. You don’t need to have read the previous 50 issues (I  didn’t) to enjoy this story. Look for the collected editions at your LCS (X-O Manowar: Soldier is the first, and would make an excellent gift for your comic loving, uh, loved ones this season).

    Bloodshot Salvation 1

  • Bloodshot Salvation Bloodshot: a man who was subjected to untold tests from a shadowy organisation, whose blood is full of tiny little machines (called nanites) that give him various different powers (the one you’ll see most often is rapid healing), and was frequently brainwashed after each mission. Now, finally, he’s free, and he has a family. This series picks up after the at-times-phenomenal Bloodshot Reborn (which, again, isn’t required reading) and finds the former killing machine trying to protect his new family, as well as a tale set eight years into the future. The two stories have yet to intertwine, but they’re bound to at some point. Only four issues in, this series is far more grounded than X-O, and yet just as exciting to look at.

    NINJA-K_001_COVER-A_HAIRSINE.jpg

  • Ninja-K The second issue is due to hit the shelves this week, which is perfect timing for those of you who want to dive into this stylish spy thriller that meshes Batman with James Bond. Once again, no prior knowledge is required when picking up the first issue. Personally, this is the reason I got all giddy over the week’s comics.

    divinity

  • Divinity/Eternity Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine have created a really interesting character in Abram Adams, the Russian Cosmonaut with the powers of a god. The Divinity trilogy has been released sporadically over the years, and is worth reading in its entirety (which is why I’m breaking my own rule), which will get you prepared for the latest sequel Eternity which is laced with a Kirby-esque space background of incredibly vivid colour.

 

Review: Ninja-K #1

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“For nearly a century, MI-6, the most elite branch of Britain’s clandestine intelligence service, has honed a ruthlessly effective, top-secret division – THE NINJA PROGRAMME – into one of its nation’s most finely wielded weapons. Tasked as the first and last line of defense for queen and country, this small shadow army of agents and assassins has produced a succession of notable assets, including NINJA-A, the Queen’s silent weapon of World War I; NINJA-E, the globe-trotting secret agent that pulled the Cold War back from the brink of Armageddon; and, most recently, NINJA-K, aka Colin King, a brash but fearless instrument of lethality that has saved the world from madmen and terror at every turn. But now… an unknown enemy is hunting and killing members of THE NINJA PROGRAMME one by one – and NINJAK is next on the list.”

Unfamiliar with Ninjak? I’ve heard people describe him as a cross between Batman and James Bond, which I don’t think is wrong, but if you put Ninjak in a room with the other two, then I’d be willing to put money on Ninjak walking out. Anyway, as I’m not trying to start a debate as to whether Batman could beat Ninjak with or without prep time shall we move on to the review proper?

Ninja-K #1 is the second solo series that the purple clad ninja has starred in since Valiant’s relaunch in 2012 (the 25ish issue Ninjak concluded earlier this year), but fear not as if this is the first time you’ve thought about picking up the character’s comics then you’ll be happy to know that your enjoyment of Ninja-K isn’t contingent upon an encyclopedic knowledge of What Has Gone Before. NINJA-K_001_003Christos Gage opens the series with a fascinating look at the history of MI-6’s Ninja Programme that will have you wanting to learn a lot more about the mysterious ninjas that preceded Ninjak. The opening salvo to the comic sets the bar high for the rest of the series, with Gage effortlessly transitioning from a character-given history to an-in-the-moment story with Ninjak going from a perfectly comfortably situation to a less than comfortable one. The opening issue to Gage’s (hopefully lengthy) tenure with Colin King has promise – at this point I’m already all in on the series, and with the more ground level espionage story that’s being set up here I’m beyond myself that I’ve got the preorder bundle at my LCS.

Being a Brit myself, one of the subtle yet very important things that gets so right is Colin King’s use of colloquialisms and slang. Too many times I’ve found writers using the right word in the wrong context and it can take me out of the story – seriously, the word bloke is not always interchangeable with the word guy or man. It’s just not.

I’ve digressed.NINJA-K_001_004

Tomas Giorello is almost entirely perfect in this issue. The only hiccup was how Ninjak’s unmasked face came across, but it should be acknowledged that’s because he appeared older than I pictured him, which is entirely a me problem and has nothing to do with the quality on offer here. Indeed, when blended with Diego Rodrifuez colouring the art is  nothing short of spectacular. The details within the panels, the layouts of those panels and the use of the gutters are all well worth spending a little time with. Each and every page of this comic deserves to be in an art gallery.

It’s gorgeous. It’s dynamic. It’s a perfect example of why you need to be paying attention to Valiant.

With the launch of Ninja-K and the ongoing publication of Bloodshot Salvation and X-O Manowar Valiant have found themselves in a very enviable position of having three books that stand head and shoulders above anything else on the racks.

 

Story: Christos Gage Art: Tomas Giorello Colors: Diego Rodriguez
Story: 9.75 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.75 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review, but I’m buying this anyway.

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day! What are folks planning on getting? What do you look forward to? Sound off in the comments below!

While you decide on that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

ComicMix – Joe Corallo: Diversity, Comics, and the Culture War – Bumpy times ahead.

New York Daily News – Comic-book thief nabbed while trying to unload rare X-Men, Spider-Man issues – Good.

Newsarama – Gareb Shamus Launches New Comic Con Biz ‘To Shake Up The Industry’, Justice League Stars On Board – Interesting.

Publishers Weekly – Politics Take Center Stage at the Small Press Expo 2017 – All the better!

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Ninjak #0

Capeless Crusader – Wonder Woman ’77 Meets Bionic WOman #6

Preview: Ninjak #0

NINJAK #0

Written by MATT KINDT with CHRISTOS GAGE
Art by FRANCIS PORTELA with MJ KIM, KHARI EVANS, ROBERTO DE LA TORRE, SIJA HONG, JUAN JOSÉ RYP, and TOMÁS GIORELLO
Cover A by DAVID MACK (JUL172260)
Cover B by CLAYTON HENRY (JUL172261)
Cover C by YAMA ORCE (JUL172262)
Variant Cover by PETER BAGGE (JUL172264)
Variant Cover by JAVIER PULIDO (JUL172265)
Ninjak Vs. The Valiant Universe Variant Also Available (JUL172263)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale SEPTEMBER 13th

AN ALL-NEW JUMPING-ON POINT! AN EXPLOSIVE 40-PAGE MILESTONE! Ninjak’s past and future – in the crosshairs!

Behind the years of training… Underneath the high-tech gadgetry… MI-6’s most experienced operative is still flesh and blood. So just how is a mortal man like Colin King able to survive in a world filled with telekinetic psiots, eternal warriors, and sentient suits of alien armor? The key to Ninjak’s survival is buried deep in the past…and today, the world’s most dreaded super-spy prepares to reveal his most closely guarded secrets!

FIRST: Superstar writer Matt Kindt concludes his masterful, record- setting run alongside fan-favorite artist Francis Portela (FAITH) and an all-star cast of special guests with an essential and revelatory tale of Ninjak’s deadly beginnings!

THEN: The gauntlet is passed to acclaimed writer Christos Gage (Netflix’s Daredevil) and blockbuster artist Tomas Giorello (X-O MANOWAR) as they prepare a startling introduction to Colin King’s next mission with a shocking prelude to NINJA-K #1, a riveting new ongoing series beginning in November!

 

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