Book 1 (Main Story)
Written by Matt Kindt, Pencils by Clay Mann, Inks by Seth Mann, Colors by Ulises Arreola, Letters by Dave Sharpe
The Lost Files (Backup Story)
Written by Matt Kindt, Art by Butch Guice, Colors by Ulises Arreola, Letters by Dave Sharpe
Valiant Entertainment’s “Valiant Next” initiative kicked off another new book this week with the much anticipated Ninjak #1. I had been waiting for this book since before it was announced. Ninjak is a character we have seen in the pages of X-O Manowar, Unity, and The Valiant, but in the pages of his own title we get to see another side of the character.
We have seen Ninjak being a badass with a sword, taking down alien creatures, infiltrating secret hideouts, and doing a lot of things prototypical of ninjas. Hollywood has created an image of ninjas in many of our minds as shadowy figures that sneak in the shadows for the purposes of infiltrations and assassination. They are skilled fighters and use the environment to their advantage. Ninjak has done all of that, but here in Ninjak #1 we get to see the skills and abilities often left out of video games and movies.
A minor spoiler, but you will not see Ninjak killing anyone in this issue. However, there was a pretty awesome fight scene that introduces a very interesting and cool new character into the mix. We see Ninjak blending in and operating like a spy. The Tokugawa shogunate in Japan employed ninjas as the groundskeepers of the shogun’s palace; deadly warriors hidden in plain sight. Hensōjutsu (disguise and impersonation) and Chōhō (espionage) were two of the eighteen skills (Ninja Jūhakkei) that ninja needed to master. Ninjak is as much a spy as he is a fighter and assassin.
At first I was a little disappointed in the lack of kills, but after mulling it over I appreciate what Matt Kindt did with Ninjak in both the main and backup stories. He could have gone the obvious route and given us a huge body count with a ninja assassin swinging a sword every other panel. Instead we got something much more intriguing. We were shown that there is depth to the character that can be explored outside of “ninja assassin.” Kindt’s approach shows us this series is going to be character driven with a finely woven and intricate story (the backup story will be tying into the main story down the line).
The entire book was beautiful, and I was not disappointed. Clay Mann’s art in the main story and Butch Guice’s art in the backup are both excellently done. The styles differ between the two artists, but they are tied together with Ulises Arreola on colors. The different styles work for the different stories, and I hope to see more from both of these artists in future installments of Ninjak.
B-B-B-BUY! If you like spies, ninjas, and things that involve infiltration of some sort, then pick up Ninjak #1. We’ll definitely see the fighting ramp up in future issues, but it is a refreshing change to see a different side of the being-a-ninja coin.
This was a Second Opinion review. Check out Gary Chapin’s initial review.