“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. Christos 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.
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.