I guess the old saying really is true: you can’t trust a man wearing a bow tie.
Ninjak learns that the hard way when he takes on tuxedo-wearing thief, Fakir. Oh, did I mention Fakir happens to be “hooked up to a dead man switch that will detonate a nuke if he dies”? ‘Cause he is.
Can our sword-slingin’ Shinobi sleuth apprehend the dapper villain without blowing up Vegas? (And himself?) Is it good?
Ninjak #9 (Valiant Entertainment)
I sang praises of Ninjak #6, the first installment of “The Shadow Wars.” And with good reason — clean, captivating art and a killer display of Ninjak’s skillset as he slunk through a forest maze in pursuit of eccentric Kannoneer criminal La Barbe coalesced for the strongest issue in the series yet.
The next two installments weren’t bad, but suffered from some problems. First, they became formulaic, exhibiting near identical plot lines:
- 1. Banter between Neville and MI-6 chief
- 2. Exposition of featured villain’s background
- 3. Brief fight scene
- 4. Ninjak saying, “Oh yeah, I tranquilized you half an hour ago, ‘cause I’m sneaky like that. Ni-night.”
While I’m sure the detailed character histories will be conducive to writer Matt Kindt’s overarching narrative (will Ninjak add the apprehended Shadow Seven members to his crew like some sort of bad-ass RPG protagonist? Because that could be cool), the cut-and-dried approach ultimately paled in comparison to issue #6 and cramped the actual interactions between Ninjak and the villains (Sanguine and Fitzy) as well, making them feel shoehorned and rushed.
Ninjak #9 thankfully returns to the former issue’s form. There’s a well-crafted fight scene, a revelation from Ninjak’s past that hits as hard as the megaton bomb stashed in Fakir’s digs, and of course, Fakir himself. The villain, thanks in part to his attire, exudes a debonair, evil James Bond sort of air with a dash of swashbuckler thrown in for good measure. Then there’s the guy’s wonderfully bizarre mutation: extra appendages sprouting from his sides that resemble those little jelly-arms you used to slap against the walls (or your younger sibling’s face) as a kid — that grow back when you cut them off. Fakir makes for a formidable opponent whose antics I surprisingly ended up enjoying just as much as La Barbe’s; add another check mark to the “great characters introduced by Kindt” list.
The art from Clay Mann (penciller), Ulises Arreola (colors) and Seth Mann/Ryan Winn (inks) is solid as always. Mann’s camera angles feel a bit cramped during some action sequences and aren’t as fluid as they could be as a result, but his detail is superb and his Ninjak is always drawn in sleek, formidable fashion. His figure work and close-ups are on point as well: there’s one particularly impressive sequence penciled by Juan Jose Ryp in the back-up story that displays all of the artists’ considerable talent where Neville approaches the undead monk; when he tries to communicate with the monk, the panels segue to a trippy close-up of the monk’s wrinkled, timeworn face — his empty eyesockets like tunnels to the space backdrop that envelopes them, replete with a tapestry of brightly burning stars. Gorgeous stuff. And how balla is that cover by Mico Suayan (at the top of this review)?
Is It Good?
Ninjak #9 is a fun, action-filled, satisfying conclusion to “The Shadow Wars” arc that atones for the previous two issues that failed to hit the mark. Recommended.