Ninja K: Issue 1 (Valiant Comics)
Words: Christos Gage Pictures: Tomas Giorello Colours: Diego Rodriguez
Colin King is Ninjak
A man who has literally brought entire nations to their knees with a single sword stroke.
He is “What if Batman was James Bond who was also Snake Eyes”
There is no one else like him
Or is there
Valiant’s Martial Arts Master is thrown into the tangled web of international espionage in this soft reboot by veteran writer Christos Gage (X Men, Spiderman, Bloodshot, Archer and Armstrong) and X-O Manowar Artist Tomas Giorello.
As the story unfolds we learn that Colin King is only the current operative of MI-6 elite Ninja Program which began over 100 years ago at the height of World War One.
The program’s progenitor, the nameless Ninja, was the first in a long line of assassins and operatives working in secret from the shadows to advance the interests of Empire, Queen and Country.
Colin King, as Ninjak or more correctly Ninja K, is the 11th such master of martial arts to be the wild card in British Intelligence’s hand.
But now long hidden secrets stand revealed and sinister forces are eliminating Ninja K’s predecessors including his mentor Ninja D.
Square jawed patriotic pugilists do not easily lend themselves to the shadowy world of spy craft and espionage but Cage is able to skilfully blends the two in a way which is reminiscent of Greg Rucka’s work on series like Queen and Country and Lazarus.
This is a very strong first issue which owes as much as Bond and Bourne as it does to Ninja craze of the 80s and 90s which inspired Ninjak’s creation.
The story is action packed and accessible for readers who are either new to the character or to the Valiant Universe in general. Some of the supporting casts members and references to Ninjak’s 20 year history will be familiar to long term fans but you won’t be tripped up if this is your first dip into Colin King’s world.
Giorello again employs the digitally inked pencil style which we highlighted in our review of the first issue of the relaunched X-O Manowar series. It’s perfect for capturing the balance of sinister shadows and frenetic fight scenes which define Ninjak’s world.
Splash Pages and John Cassady style wide-screen panels are used with great impact to create pace, tension and cinematic action sequences.
Cage and Giorello have set the stage and baited the hook with first act in the next chapter in the Colin King’s story.
Who is responsible for the brutal murder of Ninjak’s predecessors?
Is it Ninja D’s lover turned nemesis Madame Charade?
Is it the Machiavellian mad scientist Dr Silk?
Is it another intelligence agency or non state actor making the next move in the Great Game of international espionage?
Will Ninjak survive long enough to find the answer to all these questions and more?
Valiant consistently serves up strong opening issues and arcs for each of its major characters and this is no different. This book has a great high octane action movie feel which leaves you wanting more.