At first glance, the formula for the Ninjak character seems pretty simple:
1. Be ninja with freshly Pert-Plus’ed coiffure reminiscent of Jago from Killer Instinct.
2. Advertise secret profession in your “this isn’t corny, is it guys?” codename.
3. Also be British intelligence agency MI-6 weapons specialist/ James Bond analogue who lives in an enormous castle.
4. Have variant Bruce Wayne upbringing/lifestyle/tactician skills/gadgetry.
Put ‘em all together = A Ninjak is you.
New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt (Rai, Mind MGMT) is striving for more than just a “ninja spy billionaire” premise to make your inner-twelve-year old boy hyperventilate though. According to his interview with ComicsAlliance:
That’s what appeals to me. I like a fun, crazy, pulpy idea, but I also like to see it done in a way that’s interesting and realistic… [Ninjak]’s got to be the most interesting man on the planet. He’s the one that should be in the beer commercials… There is no cooler character in the Valiant Universe. I’m just trying to reveal it.
Ninjak #1 is his shot to prove it. Is it good?
Ninjak #1 (Valiant Entertainment)
Kindt starts things up with Ninjak/Colin King’s latest mission: take down femme fatale Roku, whose hair can both lacerate and set her foes on fire. Sounds like a hot date. ::waits for canned laughter to die down::
During the mission Ninjak stunts his considerable battle prowess and the action throughout is punctuated with flashbacks to ‘Jak’s childhood: as a blue-eyed scamp engrossed in a movie featuring a blind ronin taking on all comers (a movie that will one day serve as ample inspiration ala Mask of Zorro); home life with mustachioed manservant/parental guardian there in place of absentee parents (maybe you can see where the inevitable Bruce Wayne comparisons come from); sneaking out of his castle at night; and talking smack to taxi drivers.
The glimpses into Colin’s past are compelling, especially because we don’t know much about the character other than the fact he can throw down with the best of ’em and has a slew of gadgets that’d have Nicholson’s Joker spouting an even more vexated version of this.
If you haven’t seen what Ninjak’s capable of yet, this issue won’t knock your gi off; Kindt delves more into ‘Jak’s skills of deception and cunning (and the lengths he’ll go to ensure a mission is a success, even if he has to thoroughly embarrass himself or take some knocks along the way) rather than knuckling up, but Ninjak #1 still delivers on Kindt’s intent to show why Ninjak’s that dude in a more grounded fashion. (If you haven’t already, check out XO-Manowar issues #6-8 to see a better display of how Ninjak handles his business.)
Ninjak’s art team packs plenty of power: Penciller Clay Mann’s figures are lifelike, imposing and full of emotion; his panel arrangements dynamic and clear and his action sequences fluid. Colorist Ulises Arreola bring out the best in Mann’s work — his use of shading and lighting is impressive, especially in panels where the two elements are contrasted or in the reflective glint of Colin’s baby blues.
Is It Good?
Ninjak #1 may bring us through a gauntlet of familiar circumstances and tropes but they’re made impressive by clever twists and our secret agent ninja’s singular methodology.
Fun the whole way through, visually enthralling and set up keenly by Kindt in a way that should reap only finer issues to come. Cop this issue quick.