Ninja-K #4 is still a great comic, but it’s starting to fall into a rut with regards to its storytelling.
In our interview with writer Christos Gage, Gage described Ninja-G as his tied-for-favorite new ninja, saying that she was the answer to the question “what if Foxy Brown was a ninja?” Ninja-K #4 features the first appearance of the character, and, while she’s certainly a highlight of the issue, it’s getting hard not to notice that a lot of issues of Gage’s series have featured extensive flashbacks.
What Happened This Issue?
Ninja-K #4 starts in medias res, with Colin King battling the retired Ninja-G. Gage dedicates most of the issue to a flashback that takes readers through Ninja-G’s career and the after years. Ninja-G’s story and files help King realize that Ninja-C’s accusation against MI-6 and the Acclimation Bureau from the previous issue are factual, sending Ninja-K and the spy organization on a collision course set to start next issue.
Ninja-G’s backstory is quite interesting, and it’s hard not to want to see a comic covering her exploits. Gage sneaks a whole bunch of quick tidbits teasing her life into the comic, while cleverly using the character to address themes of feminism, race, and same-sex relationships. It’s hard not to wish that more time was given to her in the overall arc of the story, as she’s infinitely compelling in her story of betraying and exacting revenge on MI-6. Still, Gage is doing a great job of establishing how awful and insidious the Acclimation Bureau is, which is necessary considering the impending war against MI-6.
Although Tomás Giorello doesn’t draw this issue, Juan José Ryp is a particularly good choice for a fill-in artist considering his background in creating particularly visceral violence in series like Britannia. His action always has this sense of being in-progress, and that helps to say a lot in backing up Gage’s writing.
There’s not much wrong with the writing and art in Ninja-K #4. However, it’s another issue of expository backstory. Characters don’t get as much time as they should to interact with each other. Instead, there seems to be a formula at play: King meets a retired or presumed-dead Ninja, they try and kill each other, the other ninja tells King his/her life story, and they part amicably. This is absolutely a problem that can be rectified in future issues, but there’s not enough Ninja-K in his own titular book. It would be nice to get more of him interacting with these characters and seeing them working together.
Is It Good?
Ninja-K #4 is a good issue, but the series itself is starting to fall into a rut in using Colin King as a way to connect different issues expositing backstory. The writing and art are themselves quite good, but the series is going to have to try something new soon to avoid feeling stale.