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Valiant Hero Of The Week: Ninjak, Faith, Roku and Ivar, Timewalker

Every Monday for the next few weeks, Valiant Entertainment is running a poll on their Twitter feed to provide fans with some escapism while new comics are in short supply. The poll allows Valiant fans the opportunity to select the Hero Of The Week from four choices – this week, the poll features Ninjak, Faith, Roku and Ivar, Timewalker. That week’s hero will then be the focus of free pdfs featuring the character, videos from Valiant staff, giveaways and more.

At Graphic Policy, we’re going to be running a spotlight on the winning character all week through various features depending on the character, but at the very least you’ll see our favorite covers and stories.

But Valiant has a lot of great characters, and it’d be a shame to not let you know which stories to read to get to know some of them a little more in case they don’t end up winning the fan vote. This week’s characters are a prime example of this, and the exact reason that we wanted to shine a little light on all four ahead of the week.

Below you’ll find a brief snapshot of the character and a trade paperback or two to check out. For fun, I’ll also note who I think is most likely to win (bear in mind this is being written on Sunday).

Ninjak

Who is he? A blend of Batman and James Bond. Colin King is at the peak of human conditioning, both physical and mental, has access to near limitless financial resources, and also works on contract for MI6 as a high tech ninja operative. If you’re looking for something familiar from Valiant, then you’d think that Ninjak would scratch the Batman itch, but unlike Batman, Ninjak has no problem using his weapons to their full deadly potential. Although Ninjak has yet to feature in a movie, he was the star of Ninjak Vs. The Valiant Universe, a webseries produced by Bat In The Sun that you can probably find on Youtube now. My money would be on Ninjak taking the week.

What should you read? Ninjak: Weaponeer. This collection covers the first five issues of Ninjak’s Valiant Entertainment relaunch, and is written by Matt Kindt and features Clay Mann, Butch Guice, and Juan Jose Ryp‘s artistic talents. This is where you’ll want to go for your introduction to the character, despite his first appearance coming in an issue of X-O Manowar a couple of years prior. We’re (re)introduced to Colin King and discover how he became Ninjak in flashbacks that twin with the present as King hunts down the Shadow Seven. It’s a spy thriller in the vein of James Bond, but starring a character who is closer to Batman than most other agents.

Purchase: Amazon (Hardcover)Amazon (Paperback)KindlecomiXologyBookshopTFAW

Faith

Who is she? Valiant’s resident comic book fan who develops super powers, Faith Herbert is all of us in some form or another. Her alter ego, Summer, is based entirely on what Faith thinks a superhero should be. She uses the codename Zephyr as a superhero, which means that Faith is trying her best to be who she things she should be, rather than who she is – which all comes to a head in a certain scene in Holywood and Vine. For a time, Faith was being pushed as Valiant’s Next Big Thing, and I totally understand that, but unfortunately she didn’t resonate as well with readers as she perhaps could have.

What should you read? Faith: Hollywood and Vine is the character’s debut miniseries, and has one of my all-time favorite scenes in the book. Jody Houser takes every comic trope regarding secret identities you can think of and the laughs. It’s the single thing I keep thinking about when rereading this book, and her act makes me question other heroes who won’t do the same.

Despite Faith featuring in the utterly phenomenal Harbinger series, it is her solo miniseries that really propels the character forward – and it doesn’t hurt that the story is really cool.

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXologyBookshop

Roku

Who is she? One of Ninjak’s rogues gallery, Roku is an assassin with the ability to control her steel-like hair. A former MI:6 agent, she has a deep history with Ninjak that she barely remembers.

What should you read? Honestly, the best thing you can read actually prominently features Ninjak because up until Roku had her own miniseries, she was used as a villain in the Ninjak series. That miniseries… well it was okay, but it isn’t one I’d recommend as the best thing to read featuring the character, so instead check out Ninjak: Weaponeer. Yes, that’s the same book I mentioned above, but because Roku isn’t the protagonist, her story isn’t the focal point of the series, so if you want to at least enjoy what you’re reading of her, it helps to understand the story itself.

Purchase: Amazon (Hardcover)Amazon (Paperback)KindlecomiXologyBookshopTFAW

Ivar, Timewalker

Who is he? The older brother of the immortals Armstrong and Eternal Warrior, or Aram and Gilad Anni-Padda, Ivar is an incredibly intelligent man who has the ability to hop through time portals from one era to the next. Ivar reminds me of Doctor Who in someways, done only as Valiant can. Ivar’s time travelling can mean he visits his brothers every couple of jumps, which could easily mean a good couple hundred years between sights of Ivar if you’re Gilad or Aram. It’s a fun aspect to the brother’s relationship that’s played well in the below series.

What should you read? Ivar, Timewalker: Making History is the only real series that features Ivar with anything more than a cameo or featured appearance. It also happens to be one of my favorite comic book stories from Valiant or any publisher. It’s definitely the best time-traveling comic I’ve read, in part because you can start with any of the three volumes and still get a fantastic story so long as you read in consecutive order. Whether you’re reading 1, 2, 3, or 3,1,2 you’re in for an absolutely fantastic piece of comic book storytelling.

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXologyBookshopTFAW


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Review: Roku #4

Roku #4

Roku faces her sharpest enemy ever, the Minister of Blades, in the epic final battle in Roku #4! Who lives? Who dies? Find out here!

If you’ve read the previous three issues of Roku then you’ll know roughly what to expect. While not a bad book, Roku #4 isn’t going to convince anybody to read the series. But, it does wrap the story up nicely.

Cullen Bunn has set up a confrontation between frenemies Roku and Ember-1 with a host of assassins over the fate of the human information depository/internet Marybeth. There’s time and space for both Roku and Ember-1 to shine in their own bloody way during the scrap. Whether it’s the strangely deadly hair of the titular character or Ember-1’s more traditional fighting skills, they each bring something different to the comic. It’s a confrontation brought to life by Ramon F. Bachs and colorist Stephane Paitreau.

The art is solid and, although it won’t make or break the book, it’s clean in the way you want action to be. You can follow every knife thrust, slash and cut with ease. There were moments where I had to look twice as my eyes made sense of the character’s actions from one panel to the next, but nothing game breaking.

At this point, nothing I can say about this comic is going to make you want to read the series. I’ve enjoyed every issue myself, but I’m not going to claim that it’s a book for everybody. Roku is an interesting antagonist for one of the publisher’s more well-known characters. This book hasn’t really done a lot to make this a must-read for any but the most dedicated of Valiant fans. Those looking to read an action story about a strong female lead with a little depth will enjoy it too. You don’t need any prior knowledge which makes this a great introduction, but less so other established characters.

When it comes down to brass tacks, Roku hasn’t been a groundbreaking series. It has been somewhat predictable and hasn’t done much beyond setting up Roku for the future. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it; the introduction of Ember-1, the Minister of Blades and Marybeth and their journey across Europe was a fun read. Is it essential reading? No; but skipping it will deprive you of a solid four issue story.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Ramon F. Bachs
Colors: Stephane Paitreau Letters: Dace Sharpe

Story: 7.5 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.8 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Roku #4 (of 4)

ROKU #4 (of 4)

Written by CULLEN BUNN
Art by RAMÓN F. BACHS
Colors by STÉPHANE PAITREAU
Letters by DAVE SHARPE
Cover A by TYLER KIRKHAM
Cover B by VIKTOR KALVACHEV
Cover C by DAN BRERETON
Preorder Cover by ELSA CHARRETIER
On sale JANUARY 22 | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

Roku faces her sharpest enemy ever, the Minister of Blades, in the epic final battle! Who lives? Who dies? Find out here!

ROKU #4 (of 4)

Review: Roku #3

Roku #3

The lethal assassin Roku is reeling from a brutal defeat, but an even bigger fight awaits in Roku #3.

It’s round 2 between Roku and the superspy Ember-1!

Before starting this series, Cullen Bunn had just finished up a miniseries featuring Valiant’s Punk Mambo. It followed her adventures through the world of life, death and voodoo mysticism. That series was remarkable in the way you were able to connect to the character. Her journey across the miniseries made for a compelling tale.

Somewhere along the line, though, he lost the magic touch (pun intended) with Roku. The series has struggled to reach the same levels as Bunn’s previous Valiant work; there’s less meat on the bone with Roku than there was Punk Mambo, but then Nanbo is much less of a blank slate than Roku.

Unfortunately, for those who have watched the first couple episodes of The Mandalorian on Disney +, then you’re going to get a familiar sense about this book – a mercenary contracted for a job finds themselves a little more invested than they expected. If you’ve seen the Beskar armored warrior on your television or phone screen then you’ll have seen the best version of that story across any media.

It’s not that this is a bad book; much like one of Valiant’s other offerings released today, Bloodshot #4, it’s another action book set on a train featuring a character who should be a kick-ass lead, but because the settings are similar then comparisons will be drawn, and Roku doesn’t quite measure up. Which is a shame because there’s a great story here that’s struggling to see the light of day.

Bunn is joined by artist Ramon F. Bachs and colorist Stephane Paitreau, who add a distinct flair to the proceedings with their work; scenes on the train feel enclosed and confined before bursting across the page as the action unfolds from panel to panel as Roku and her incredible hair tear across the page trying to achieve her objective regardless of what’s in her way.

While not a bad book, Roku #3 isn’t up to the quality of some of Bunn’s earlier work. It’s still a fun read, but the trouble with focusing a book on a villain, even one as popular within the Valiant fandom (specifically Ninjak fans) as Roku is that somewhere along the lines you’ve got to find an antagonist who is somehow worse than her. Bunn hasn’t quite found that antagonist just yet.

At the end of the day, this book won’t convince you to pick up the series if you haven’t already, but it won’t feel like a waste of your money, either. Contrary to how it sounds, I did enjoy it – but not as much as other books I’ve read this week.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Ramon F. Bachs
Colors: Stephane Paitreau Letters: Dace Sharpe

Story: 7.8 Art: 8.2 Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Roku #3 (of 4)

ROKU #3 (of 4)

Written by CULLEN BUNN
Art by RAMÓN F. BACHS
Colors by STÉPHANE PAITREAU
Letters by DAVE SHARPE
Cover A by VIKTOR KALVACHEV
Cover B by DAVE JOHNSON
Cover C by SHAWN CRYSTAL
Preorder Edition Cover by BILL SIENKIEWICZ
On sale DECEMBER 18 | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

The lethal assassin Roku is reeling from a brutal defeat, but an even bigger fight awaits…

It’s round 2 between Roku and the superspy Ember-1!

ROKU #3 (of 4)

Review: Roku #2

Roku #2

In order to save a life, the lethal weapon Roku is going to have to kill a lot of people. Plus, the first appearance of the Minister of Blades! All in Roku #2!

Comics featuring a villain as a protagonist can often be a dicey proposition. If the character isn’t in some way sympathetic it can be hard for the audience to find a connection. Roku is the exception to that rule. I say rule, but really it’s just a personal observation. She’s far from a sympathetic character in terms of her motivations, despite her tragic history. That’s revealed to some extent this issue through dialogue and the character’s internal monologue.

The first cliche of the book is that despite Roku being an unscrupulous assassin villain, she seems to be willing to do “the right thing”. Though arguably not for the best of reasons. It’s at this point that we find ourselves rooting for the character. While it may seem familiar to some, Cullen Bunn frames the story and the character in such a way that you’ll never complain that the story has that familiar sense about it.

The book showcases Roku’s skills, as well as the oddly creepy hair powers she has as she cuts through her enemies like cheese wire through a block of cheddar. Her hair powers are one of my favorite things about the character. Though I have to admit at finding it a little creepy at the same time. It’s both an interesting ability for a character and one that still has the ability to take me off guard. It isn’t often you see a character who can use her hair as a weapon.

Bunn’s story seems pretty straightforward, though one can start to see the subtle complexities being teased out to us.

Bunn is joined by artist Ramon F. Bachs and colorist Stephane Paitreau, whose style is clean with enough flare to provide an interesting look to the book. You can tell exactly what’s happening on each page even though there’s frequently some form of swift and brutal encounter between Roku and somebody else.

Roku #2 takes the series firmly into New-Reader-Friendly territory, with the focal point of the story being Roku’s mission rather than the character herself and a deep dive into her past. While her mysterious past is brought up enough to familiarize the unfamiliar, it hasn’t been anything more than characters alluding to what has gone before in a way that doesn’t break the story if you’ve no idea what happened.

At the end of the day, this book is still a fun read. There’s a bit more to unpack for fans of Roku or readers of Ninjak, but either way, there’s more than enough here to pull you back for the third issue.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Ramon F. Bachs
Colors: Stephane Paitreau Letters: Dace Sharpe

Story: 8.6 Art: 8.2 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Roku #2

ROKU #2 (OF 4)

Written by CULLEN BUNN
Art by RAMÓN F. BACHS
Cover A by VIKTOR KALVACHEV
Cover B by JEFF DEKAL
Cover C by ELSA CHARRETIER
On sale NOVEMBER 20 | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

In order to save a life, the lethal weapon Roku is going to have to kill a lot of people.

Plus, the first appearance of the Minister of Blades!

The bloody thrill ride reaches new heights by New York Times bestselling writer Cullen Bunn (Venom) and stunning artist Ramón F. Bachs (Detective Comics)!

ROKU #2 (OF 4)

Around the Tubes

Roku #1

It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What’s everyone excited for? What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

iO9 – Watchmen‘s Ideas About Trauma and Legacy Are Making the Show More Mystifying – It’s a hell of a show and this is part of it.

Comicbook – Bernie Wrightson Comic Book Cover Estimated To Command Up To A Million Dollars At Auction – Well deserved.

Newsarama – DC Names New Publicity & Communications Director – Interesting move and congrats on the new position.

The Beat – Comics going uptown: The Color of Power: Heroes, Sheroes, & Their Creators exhibit opens November 16 – Sounds like an interesting exhibit.

The Comichron – October 2019 comics sales estimates: X-Men #1 launches near 256k copies – For those that enjoy the horse race.

Reviews

Newsarama – Fantastic Four #16
Comics Bulletin –
Roku #1

Around the Tubes

Fantastic Four: Grand Design #1

The weekend has come and gone… what geeky things did you all do? Sound off in the comments! While we get ready for the week, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

How to Love Comics – Star Wars Legends Continuity Comics Reading Order – Very handy and something we’ve wanted to do!

Newsarama – Donate Comic Books & Graphic Novels For U.S. Armed Forces Overseas & At Home – Great program!

Reviews

CBR – Fantastic Four: Grand Design #1
ICv2 –
Invisible Kingdom Vol. 1
CBR –
Roku #1

Review: Roku #1

Roku #1

How many lives must the lethal assassin Roku take in her first series? Roku #1 begins a journey to find out!

Killing her way around the globe, the deadly weapon called Roku will face a challenge she can’t simply execute.

Being bad has never been so fun.

There has always been something fun about reading a comic about the bad guy. Roku is another character to come from Ninjak, following on the heels of the spectacular Killers series. Roku features a mercenary assassin with a tragic past. Don’t all great characters have tragic pasts, really? And the first issue delivers a fast pace as she completes a couple of missions within the comic.

Perhaps one of my favourite things about the character is that she can use her hair as a weapon. She’s able to control it and then use it to slice and dice her opponents. That gives the artists some excellent chances to flex their muscles and get creative with her free-flowing locks of red hair. Think Carnage’s symbiote tendrils.

Writer Cullen Bunn’s story in this book seems pretty straightforward. Through his narration and the dialogue Bunn’s able to give readers unfamiliar with the character enough context that they understand who she is and her motivations. It serves as a great ground zero for those familiar with the character get refreshed and see where Bunn’s take begins.

The primary job of any first issue is to pull the reader back for more. With Roku #1 Cullen Bunn, artist Ramon F. Bachs and colorist Stephane Paitreau do just enough to entice me back for the second issue, although there seems to be something lacking from the comic. There was magic (pun intended) about Bunn’s first issue of Punk Mambo, a series he recently wrapped up for Valiant as well, that just isn’t repeated here.

Now comparing the two characters isn’t exactly an apples to apples view point; they’re both different characters, and one has had a lot more time in the limelight recently than the other (and my own personal bias toward Punk Mambo isn’t helping here either). That said, I’m confident that by the end of this book I’m going to want to read a lot more about Roku – whether I love the character, or love to hate her.

Ultimately a fun book, and one that Valiant fans should pick up. Whether it’ll attract new readers remains to be seen.

Story: Cullen Bunn Art: Ramon F. Bachs
Colors: Stephane Paitreau Letters: Dace Sharpe

Story: 8.6 Art: 8.2 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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