While not necessarily as famous as Bloodshot or X-O Manowar, Ninjak (Colin King) is one of the most important characters in Valiant’s pantheon. Thanks to writer Matt Kindt, who recently completed a 26-issue run on Ninjak, the character’s solo journeys have been just as great as Valiant’s other superb offerings. In September, Christos Gage and Tomas Giorello worked with Kindt and Francis Portela to release Ninja-K #0, a sort of passing of the torch from one creative team to the next. After reading Ninja-K #0, it’s clear that Gage and Giorello were the right choice to follow up Kindt. Ninja-K is a fantastic start to the next chapter in the titular character’s story.
What Happened This Issue?
The first half of Ninja-K takes readers through the history MI-6’s Ninja Programme, introducing several generations of British ninja and their trainer — the Jonin. After skipping several decades, the first issue focuses on King discovering that an unknown assailant has murdered his mentor, Ninja-D, and his relationship with fellow Valiant hero Livewire. King attempts to interrogate a former operative, but things go wrong quickly, resulting in the death of several agents and King’s realization that whatever is going on is big.
What’s Good About It?
Giorello’s artwork in Ninja-K is absolutely magnificent. There’s a full-page spread early in the comic that captures an almost movie poster sensibility. Throughout the comic, the art drives the action in a clear, intelligible way, serving to illustrate the prowess of the different Ninjas.
Gage’s writing is also excellent. The first half of the issue leans heavily into narration, but Gage injects a life into the words that prevent them from feeling like a static voice over. Rather, there’s the sense that Ninja-D — who is later revealed as the speaker — is having a real dialogue with Ninja-K. Gage also balances both the spy-thriller aspects of the story well with the personal aspects that permeate King’s relationships to Livewire, his handler Neville Alcott, and with Ninja-D. Choosing to focus on King’s relationships helped make Kindt’s work great, and there’s no indication that Gage will do any worse a job than his predecessor.
Gage and Giorello together do an awesome job of setting up the story and its villain, despite King’s antagonist remaining unknown and unseen throughout the story. Towards the end of the comic, King interrogating one of Ninja-D’s associates gets spliced with images of someone — or something — killing the guards. Everything happens so quick and unbeknownst to Ninja-K that it’s hard to not feel some level of fear about whatever he’s about to come up against.
What’s Wrong With It?
There really isn’t much wrong with Ninja-K as a whole. However, new readers may have trouble finding a foothold in the story. While it’s definitely new reader friendly, King’s relationship with Livewire and Neville do require some backstory appearing both in the pages of Kindt’s Ninjak and other comics in the Valiant universe. It’s not a particularly major problem, but new readers should definitely be aware that there are some things that they may find confusing.
Is It Good?
Ninja-K is an excellent comic and a great start to the next chapter in the titular character’s journey. Gage and Giorello are a masterful team, and their rendition of Valiant’s master spy has started strong.