It’s not often that I walk this blind into something. That is, I don’t know much about the creative team (Martheus and Janet Wade) nor the company behind Shinobi: Ninja Princess (Action Lab Comics), but who cares? Let’s see what we got here. Is it good?
Shinobi: Ninja Princess #1 (Action Lab Comics)
The Azumi Ninja Clan has made a deal with the evil Emperor of Japan to capture Shianndrea Toshigawa (which later turns into assassination for some reason. Guess the guy changed his mind or something), the young and currently hidden daughter of the Emperor. Why does he want this done? I dunno. Anyways, Shianndrea and a group of young ninjas are sent in to to spy on the Azumi Ninja Clan to find out what they are up to after getting wind of the deal (technically, they don’t know what the deal is about so they don’t know it’s a bad idea to bring Shianndrea along). Trouble ensues.
One quick question Emperor: What’s with these odd holograms of concerned looking women floating around?
Ever get the feeling you walked into a story halfway through? Yeah, that’s what it felt like reading this comic. I’m not sure if there is a prequel, a previous series that preceded this, or something else (if there is, please let me know so I can check it out) — but this comic’s world, characters, and mythos are pretty poorly designed and laid out. There is no explanation or foundation for anything we are seeing in this comic. For instance, allow me to go over the questions I had while I was reading this that were not answered by the end of the issue:
Who is this evil Emperor of Japan and how did he get into power?
Why the Emperor want to kill his daughter?
Why is Tokyo called New Tokyo? Did something happen to Tokyo?
What is the Toshigawa Ninja Camp and why are they hiding?
Why is this Ninja Camp sending out very young and clearly inexperienced students to do these big and quite possibly dangerous missions?
Why is Shianndrea originally supposed to lead this team if the clan leader thinks it involves her? Shouldn’t you have someone else who may not emotionally invested or tied to this mission leading it then?
What is Shianndrea’s “Chosen Power” and why does she have it?
When did ninjas become so powerful and in charge of everything in the future?
Since when do shuriken (or in this case, an obvious kunai knife) explode when nothing is attached to them?
Wait, if that guy was watching them when they surrounded by bad guys, why didn’t he lift a finger to help them?
Then of course, there are the characters themselves. We have no idea who they are and what they are like outside of characters telling us what they are like. The only one who isn’t like this is Hamasuke, who is a complete asshole and solely unlikeable. What makes this all really bad is that our main character, Shinanndrea, is not fleshed out at all and we barely know anything about her. How can we feel attachment to her or anyone when we don’t anything about them? As you can tell, this makes for a problematic first issue.
Shinanndrea really hopes that’s not a bifocal wearing Chuck Norris.
Of course, that’s not the only problem with the comic. The writing seems rushed. The pacing on this book is absurdly quick. There’s barely any time to breathe with most of the panels crammed full of awkward exposition. Speaking of which, the dialogue is pretty forgettable to unnatural/clunky sounding; these are not people who talk like human beings. The storytelling is also pretty contrived, with problems solved in extremely convenient fashion or a deus ex machina appearing out of nowhere to solve a problem. The ending is okay at best, but lacks any punch or shock.
The artwork is what I enjoyed most. Although not mind-blowing, it gets the job done. The characters’ designs and appearances are well-fashioned, but there are a couple of similar faces and goofy expressions. Shinobi: Ninja Princess #1 does have the benefit of having backgrounds most of the time (which puts it above most comics in some way sadly) and the coloring is alright. However, the coloring can’t seem to make up what time of day the story is happening: it actually goes from what appears to be sunset to nighttime to sunset to midday. This makes the timeline of this story really questionable and only adds to the problems this comic has.
More like ninjerk, amirite?
Is It Good?
Shinobi: Ninja Princess #1 isn’t yet worth the time. The writing need work, the story and characters are underdeveloped, and the artwork isn’t enough to carry the burden. Honestly, if you want to read a comic about teenage ninjas, I’m sure there’s something out there you can find (even easier if you happen to like turtles).