Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Clay Mann and Butch Guice
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Summary from Valiant Entertainment:
For the first time, Ninjak’s past and future collide in the pages of an all-new ongoing series from New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt (Rai, Mind MGMT) and superstar artists Clay Mann (X-Men: Legacy, Gambit) and Butch Guice (Captain America, Action Comics)!
Then: Meet inexperienced MI-6 recruit Colin King on his first mission in the field as he learns the basics of spycraft and counterintelligence, and develops a volatile relationship with his first handler.
Now: Colin King is Ninjak, the world’s foremost intelligence operative, weapons expert, and master assassin. And he’s hunting the Shadow Seven – a secret cabal of shinobi masters with mysterious ties to his training and tragic past.
Outside of Star Wars, Ninjak has been at the top of my “Most Anticipated Book” list since it was first announced. Maybe it’s the fact that he is like a cross between Batman and 007, or maybe it’s the fact that he is a freaking ninja working as an operative for MI-6, but this character just embodies awesomeness.
After reading a majority of the current Valiant catalog, Ninak (aka Colin King) quickly became a character that I wanted to know more about. All of this anticipation lead to much higher expectations than I usually have heading into a series. So did Ninjak’s debut hit its mark, or was it cut down by a swarm of anticipatory arrows? Let’s start with the high points.
Matt Kindt does a great job working back-story into the main narrative without it being distracting, and the back-story is… darker than I expected. The primary storyline follows Ninjak as he tracks down Ruko (think Leelo from the Fifth Element, if Leelo was an genetically enhanced assassin), and attempts to take down the Shadow Seven. This is made all the better by Clay Mann’s impeccable artwork. There is one fight sequence between Ruko and Ninjak that is so good it feels like a movie instead of a comic (before I read it, Stephen called me just to tell me how awesome it was).
The second part of the book follows Colin on a mission before he was an apex killing machine, which gives good insight into what made him the man he is now. This was written by Kindt with art by Butch Guice. The art style is startlingly different than Mann’s, but the shift in style does a good job noting this as a flashback.
Long time fans might not like the way he gets his name in the current Valiant universe. As a newer reader, I couldn’t find much wrong with this issue. Ninjak is a really cool character, and they did a good job laying a foundation for a new ongoing series.
The Final Say-
Very rarely do highly anticipated books live up to the hype, but this one does for sure. Kindt is becoming one of my favorite writers, and Ninjak #1 was a fun read. Valiant is putting out some great stuff with their current Valiant Next initiative, and I encourage anyone reading this to head to their local comic shop and pick up a a copy of Ninjak. I give this one a 5 out of 5.