Ninja-K #3 is a strong issue that provides a great backstory for Ninja-C. However, there’s a lot of exposition that detracts from the comic overall.
Ninja-K has been a strong series so far, though the second issue had some problems with regards to pacing. While Christos Gage and Thomás Giorello don’t repeat that mistake this issue, Ninja-K #3 has a lot of exposition, leading to some frustrating places where they could have gone into more depth or otherwise shown rather than told Ninja-C’s backstory. However, Giorello’s artwork really makes the flashback scenes work, and Gage crafts an intricate and interesting backstory for C while linking it directly to the experience of Colin King — the titular Ninja-K.
What Happened This Issue?
Ninja-K #3 starts with King confronting C, the person responsible for the death of Ninja-B at the start of the series. After a short fight, C reveals his backstory and motivation to King. C divulges the existence of the “Acclimation Bureau,” a branch of MI6 dedicated to ensuring that the organization’s spy assets continue to work for them. He also reveals that the Acclimation Bureau was behind many of the events that occured during Matt Kidnt’s previous run on the character, motivating Ninja-K to continue searching for the truth.
The initial fight between C and King is exciting. It’s a great way to open the issue while establishing C’s specific skills and deficiencies. Additionally, the tragic backstory that Gage crafts for C really helps to make clear the character’s motivation for attempting to destroy the Ninja Programme. Gage smartly calls back to several of the events that took place during Kindt’s previous run regarding Roku and the destruction of King’s estate, which helps to make King’s final choice to investigate C’s claims further more believable.
Giorello does a great job on the art throughout the book, really capturing the fighting styles of both Ninjas, while also excelling at transitioning between the present and the past. He’s able to use the few panels dedicated to C’s backstory to really capture key images that reduce the need for C to go too into detail.
Last issue, I found the B-story at the end of the book a bit distracting and truncated. However, this issue expanded on the story of Ninja-A and, though it’s still quite short, it sets up and explores an interesting premise. I’m excited to see where they take it next month, as it ends on a strong cliffhanger, perhaps more so than the main issue itself.
One of the more frustrating parts of the comic is that an exposition dump makes up most of the issue, which is odd; Gage successfully revealed C’s background at the start of the last issue in a way that made it feel compelling and present, but, in this issue, he chooses to have C just tell his backstory to King. Although having C tell his backstory certainly allows him to cover a lot of ground quickly, there’s something to be said for showing, rather than telling, especially when King has already pieced together so much on his own. The backstory itself is tight and interesting and could have been told in so many other ways.
Is It Good?
Ninja-K #3 is excellent in concept, with Gage showing off his ability to craft compelling, believable backstories for his characters while harkening back to the events of Kindt’s run. Giorello’s art works well throughout, though it’s especially strong during the flashback sequences. However, despite all of those positives, the issue is quite exposition-heavy, which feels like a bit of a missed opportunity to reveal C’s fantastic backstory more organically.