Four Letter Nerd

Tag - Shadowman

4LN Comic Review: Ninjak #10

Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Doug Braithwaite & Juan José Ryp, with Brian Reber
Publisher: Valiant Comics

Summary from Comixology: ALL-NEW JUMPING-ON POINT! A SPECIAL FOUR-ISSUE EVENT! “OPERATION: DEADSIDE” STARTS HERE! In December of 2015, a covert military intelligence unit sent a team of 20 agents and one special operative into a parallel dimension. Only one came back. The purpose of their mission was classified. Now, out of options, MI-6 has recruited their most elite operative – codename: NINJAK – to follow the doomed mission’s sole witness back into the dimension called Deadside…and bring her missing teammates home. What will they find there? And who will be waiting for them? Jump on board here as New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt (DIVINITY) and superstar artist Doug Braithwaite (ARMOR HUNTERS) reunite for a terrifying journey into an unknown plane of existence…and bring NINJAK head-to-head with SHADOWMAN in the all-new, four-part epic “OPERATION: DEADSIDE”! Plus: an all-new chapter of “THE LOST FILES” begins, featuring explosive artwork by Juan José Ryp (Clone)!

Ninjak (2015) #10: Digital Exclusive Edition

Ninjak is, without a doubt, one of the absolute best comics being published right now. Since the launch of the series earlier this year, the story has been exciting and captivating, with some pretty amazing twists along the way. This brand-new story arc “Operation Deadside” kicks off with a blast. Literally. A secret MI-6 facility is attacked and a villain previously captured by Ninjak is taken to the Deadside, somewhere Ninjak has been before but isn’t really in a hurry to get back to. I mean, he’s going back, he just doesn’t want to. He’ll have some help this time, though, from the obdurate and incomparable Punk Mambo. They go together about as well as… well… about as well as an anarchist hippie and an agent of the state.

click for super-sized previews of Ninjak (2015) #10: Digital Exclusive Edition

For me, personally, Ninjak has been my favorite of the new Valiant comics from 2015. Don’t get me wrong, I like pretty much everything that they put out, but Ninjak just has something about it that makes it stand out. It’s more accessible than a lot of other current comics. What I mean is that you can very easily jump into Ninjak and it’s even easier to get sucked into the story. “Operation Deadside” picks up sort of where the previous story arc ended, but not in a way that requires you to read it. However, you should read it because Matt Kindt has been crafting an absolutely compelling plot-line that leads you all the way up to here. The way Kindt writes Colin King (Ninjak) reminds me of a mix of Bruce Wayne and Danny Rand. He’s wealthy, classy and headstrong, but still sarcastic, and even a little reckless at times. Not imprudent, just a tad careless; in a “let’s see what happens when I do this” kind of way.

click for super-sized previews of Ninjak (2015) #10: Digital Exclusive Edition

Moving on to the art… It’s phenomenal. Doug Braithwaite is a fantastic artist who has an incredible talent for drawing detail without being overly complex with his panels. A lot of artists today try to be too complicated and/or too abstract and that can make the story hard to follow. Braithwaite does not suffer from that misguided philosophy. He draws damn good comics and that’s that. Additionally, each issue of Ninjak includes a Lost Files bonus story at the end of the main story that all connects. Previously the story had been about the origins of Colin as an agent but Operation Deadside changes that and seems to be about a new Shadowman. Now, Shadowman is definitely in my top 3 favorite Valiant characters so I’m eager to see how that side story develops and connects to the larger plot, but the thing I’m most excited about when it comes to the Lost Files story is that the art is done by Juan José Ryp. I freaking LOVE his style. It’s super detailed and kind of gruesome at times. It’s just so incredible and I’m really glad that he’s doing it.


click for super-sized previews of Ninjak (2015) #10: Digital Exclusive Edition

If you’ve been looking to jump into a Valiant published comic, this is a great jumping on point. Hell, if you just want a really great series to jump into PERIOD, this is one I highly recommend. The writing is high caliber. The art is top notch. There’s nothing to dislike about Ninjak, and I stand behind that statement 100%. Ninjak #10, the beginning of the “Operation Deadside” arc, is a 4 star book if I’ve ever read one. Head down to your local comic shop and pick up a copy today!


Music Pairing –
Well if you’re gonna jam something while you read a Valiant comic, then you HAVE to make that jam A Sound of Thunder. And while reading this particular issue, that specific jam NEEDS to be the track “Punk Mambo” from their new album “Tales from the Deadside“.

4LN Album Review: “Tales from the Deadside” by A Sound of Thunder

A couple of months ago we did a Nerds in Bands article with Mr. Josh Schwartz of Washington D.C. metal band A Sound of Thunder. I became aware of the band because Josh and I are both in a Valiant Comics Fanpage on Facebook and he’d posted about how the band was doing a concept album based around the story of the Valiant Comics character Shadowman. Being that Shadowman is one of my favorite Valiant characters (edged out narrowly by Woody, from Quantum & Woody), and since I’m such a big fan of metal, I’ve been really excited about hearing “Tales from the Deadside”, and I can assure you, it does not disappoint.

Tales from the Deadside (Music Inspired by Shadowman) cover art

The album kicks off with the haunting and extremely groovy Children of the Dark. There’s this opening guitar riff that’s almost sludgy and it picks up with the choruses. It’s so good that you just can’t help but nod your head throughout the entire track.

A couple tracks in we come to Can’t Go Back, which in my opinion showcases the real power and versatility of lead singer Nina Osegueda. She hits some crazy high notes like she’s Mariah f***ing Carey, but what’s really amazing is that she can then she immediately turn that into an intimidatingly gravely roar like she’s Wendy O. Williams. The track Punk Mambo is perfect example of what I mean. It’s fast and chaotic, and held together by Nina’s ability to sing, quite literally, all over the place.

Make no mistake, this concept album is no gimmick. ASOT is an incredibly talented and eclectic band. You’ll hear tons of different sounds on TFTD, even some sexy saxophone, which is nod to the sax-playing title character, but also just works really, really well on the record.

Let me close with this… If you’ve read Shadowman, you need to jam this record. Even if metal isn’t your thing, you should at the very least give it one spin. Who knows, you just might end up really digging it. If you just like metal but haven’t ever heard of Shadowman, I genuinely hope this will pique your interest in the character because his mythology is amazing. Also, to boil ASOT down to a single genre, they’re a straightforward metal band. There’s some epic metal stuff in there, and some sludgy stuff, even the occasional thrashy riff or two, but overall, they just play no-nonsense, no fluff metal better than a lot of bands out there right now. I’ll even go so far as to tell you that even though this album has been out for only a little over a week, I’ve already listened to it more than I have Iron Maiden’s new album, which has been out for almost a month. I’m not saying, I’m just saying…

Check out A Sound of Thunder’s Official Website for all the links to where you can get a hold of their new album, and make sure to play it loud!

Nerds in Bands: Josh Schwartz from A Sound of Thunder

The main reason for the “Nerds in Bands” series even existing is because I love both comics and music (especially metal) so much and I really wanted to find a way to combine the two here on 4 Letter Nerd. This newest entry of Nerds in Bands perfectly captures that sentiment, and I think you’ll see why…

Ladies and gentlemen, nerds and metalheads, I present to you my chat with Mr. Josh Schwartz, guitarist for epic metal band A Sound of Thunder. They’ve got something pretty damn cool coming up that you should check out!

4LN – Give us a little background on A Sound of Thunder and how you guys got started.
Josh Schwartz – The drummer Chris Haren and I met in a local cover band. We discovered we had a passion for the same kind of powerful, slightly proggy hard rock and metal and for writing original music, so we said goodbye to playing other people’s songs and started on our journey with A Sound of Thunder. Things didn’t really take off until our vocalist Nina Osegueda joined us in late 2009, and the final piece of the puzzle was when our bassist Jesse Keen joined in 2010.

4LN – What bands, would you say, have had the biggest influence on you guys?
JS – We all have different tastes, but I would say the two most influential bands and the two that all 4 of us love are Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. Nina, Jesse and I also share a major love of King Diamond, and the 4 of us have a growing appreciation for Rush, spurred on by our drummer Chris who is a Rush fanatic!

4LN – Your new project is a pretty epic one, especially for those of us who are Valiant Comics fans. It’s a concept album based on the series Shadowman. Can you tell us about that and how it came about?
JS – Nina and I are both comics fans, and like writing songs that tell stories, so doing something based on a comic book was a no-brainer for us. There was never a big plan to find a comic book publisher to partner with us though. We just walked up to Valiant’s booth at the Baltimore Comic Con in 2013, with no forethought or planning, and told them we liked their comics and would like to do some music about some of their characters. We were surprised that they said yes almost immediately, and from there things took on a life of their own!

4LN – The Kickstarter you guys put up has already almost doubled the amount of money you needed to make the album happen. Did you anticipate that big of a response?
JS – We expected the Kickstarter to do well, because our fans are extremely loyal and helped us fund the last two albums through Kickstarter too. But we didn’t expect this campaign to blow up so fast! It really has been amazing to see and we are all incredibly thankful to everyone who has backed the campaign and helped spread the word!

4LN – Let’s talk a little Valiant comics before I let you go. If someone came to you and was interested in getting into Valiant, where would you personally suggest that they start?
JS – My favorite Valiant character is Shadowman, but for another reader, I might suggest they start with Harbinger or X-O Manowar, because I think they had longer, more consistent runs and there is more to dive into there. Shadowman was great but is kind of broken up into two distinct, shorter runs, with quite a change of tone and direction in the middle.

4LN – Ok, last question… If you could craft a concept album around any other Valiant Comics character, who would you pick and why?
JS – I think Bloodshot or X-O Manowar would both translate well to metal concept albums, or maybe Harbinger for a more progressive, thoughtful album. But for our band, I think Eternal Warrior would be the next best fit. Shadowman was really perfect for us because it has elements of black magic, and of course the Deadside, which suggest some of the darker tonalities that we use, and the New Orleans setting which suggests blues and jazz influences which we already have in our music. But Eternal Warrior would be great for some epic battle metal! You could really cover a lot of ground, from ancient Mesopotamia all the way to 4001AD!

I want to say a big “thank you!” to Josh for taking the time to talk with me! If you’re a fan of bands like Mercyful Fate, Hammerfall, and Nightwish, then I strongly urge you all to check out A Sound of Thunder. If you’re a Valiant Comics fan, make sure to also go to their Kickstarter page and support what they’re doing!

Fancasting Valiant Comics Movies

By now most all of you have heard the news that Valiant Comics was able to secure funding with their film division, for the purpose of developing their properties to hit the big screen. And I suppose the small screen too? Comic book shows are all the rage on TV right now, for sure. Well, being that my fellow 4LN writer Cameron and I have become big Valiant fans lately, we decided it would be fun to fancast our picks for who should play our favorite characters when the come to life. We reached out to our Valiant super-cool-uncle Steven Boyd (I was gonna say “Valiant godfather”, but that would age him more than would be fair) to see if he’d wanna jump in on the fun. He did! Check out our picks below, and let us know who you’d pick!



Steve B: Thomas Jane as Bloodshot. He’s the friggin Punisher. He already knows how to act, can handle a gun and take a punch. Somebody give this guy some nanites already.

Cam: Anson Mount – If you are unfamiliar with Anson Mount, go watch AMC’s Hell on Wheels. This guy is gruff, capable of portraying a cold-hearted killer, and has the kind of square jaw, anti-hero attitude you would expect from a nanite-powered killing machine.


X-O Manowar

Steve B: Chris Hemsworth as X-O Manowar (Aric of Dacia). If Chris Evans can be the Human Torch AND Captain America, then Chris Hemsworth can be both Thor and Aric of Dacia. Solid actor, good physique and is versatile enough to play a Visigoth out of time.

Cam: Alexander Skarsgård – X-O Manowar is as Dacian from the 6th century who was captured by aliens, steals their most powerful weapon (a suit of high tech armor capable of destroying pretty much whatever he wants to destroy), and returns to modern day Earth after escaping. The character is a tall, blonde haired warrior of the North. I think Skarsgaard fits that bill perfectly.


Eternal Warrior/ Gilad Anni-Padda

Stephen: I’m going with Charlie Hunnam here. I feel like there’s a wealth of depth to that guy’s acting talents and I don’t think we’ve seen the extent to his abilities. Grow out his hair a little bit and dye it brown… I absolutely think he could be the Eternal Warrior.

Steve B: Michael Shannon as Eternal Warrior.


Toyo Harada

Steve B: Ken Watanabe – I thought this guy had the coolest voice in BATMAN BEGINS. I had never seen THE LAST SAMURAI, but when I think of Harada, I think of Ken Watanabe. Very commanding presence and a great actor in general.

Cam: I also pick Ken Watanabe – I literally cannot think of anyone else who could play the ultimate baddy of the Valiant universe. Toyo Harada is one of the most powerful psiots in the world, and hopes to use his power to force the world into peace, even if that means wiping out swaths of people along the on the way. Ken Watanabe is the chosen one for this role.



Steve B: Byung Hun Lee (Storm Shadow from G.I.JOE films) as RAI.

Stephen: I’m actually just gonna echo Steve on this one. I think Lee would make an excellent Rai. He’s definitely got the martial arts talent, and he can certainly pull of the cold, emotionless warrior persona. Plus, ever since I saw him in “I Saw The Devil”, I’ve felt like he deserves a chance to be the lead in an American film. The dude can certainly carry a film.



Cam: Tom Hardy – Ninjak, aka Colin King, is a British millionaire/billionaire(?) that also happens to be a badass ninja assassin/intelligence agent. A majority of the time his face is obscured by a mask that covers the lower half of his face. Who is a British actor that is good enough at selling emotion with facial expressions that he can wear a mask a majority of the time and still be awesome? Tom Hardy. Although Hardy would have to reduce his bulkiness back to Inception levels, but he has proven he can pretty much add mass and lose it at will.

Stephen: So, my choice for Ninjak is someone most of you have probably seen, but never knew… Scott Adkins. He’s been in films like Bourne Ultimautim, The Expendables 2, and Zero Dark Thirty. He has martial arts training in his background and was even in a movie called Ninja II. So… yeah. The dude could be Ninjak easy.


Ivar Anni-Padda, Timewalker

Steve B: Tom Wisdom as Ivar the Timewalker. My first relative unknown casting for the VALIANT Universe would be Wisdom, who played an ill-fated soldier in 300. He has a super-hero like quality about him and could probably do a great job playing a man out of time. Surround him with a great cast and you’ve got a hit.

Cam: Ewan McGregor – Ivar, the Timewalker, is an immortal time-traveler who is highly intelligent and also a bit of a sarcastic ass. Ewan McGregor could be believable as both an intelligent gentleman and a bit of a jerk in a Sherlockian sort of way. Also, if McGregor grew his hair out he would be a spitting image (I don’t actually know the origin of this phrase) of how Ivar is depicted in his new series.


Shadowman/Jack Boniface

Stephen: I’m going with Wentworth Miller (Prison Break, The Flash) for Shadowman. I feel like he’s got the chops to be the lead and he’s done action before, but I feel like one of the things that makes him stand out the most to me, is that he’s also a writer, with some darker-style work in his repertoire (Stoker, the upcoming psychological-horror-thriller The Disappiontments Room). Not only could he play Shadowman, he could write on the film as well…

Steve B: Taylor Kitsch as Jack Boniface. I thought he got Gambit’s Cajun accent down pretty good in X-MEN ORIGINS WOLVERINE, plus he’s a very mysterious looking dude. And he’s been the lead in an action movie (JOHN CARTER). He’s your Shadowman.


Quantum and Woody

Steve B: Owen Wilson for Woody, and Michael Jai White for Quantum.  Michael has a super hero’s physique and I believe could play the straight guy in a comedy duo pretty good after seeing him in BLACK DYNAMITE. Owen Wilson is probably a little old for the role, but his Jethro Tull line from ARMAGEDDON wins him Woody’s role instantly.


Stephen: This was a tough one for me because Quantum & Woody is my favorite Valiant series. After much deliberation, I’ve settled on Beck Bennett (SNL) for Woody and Lance Gross for Quantum. Now I know he doesn’t *quite* have the look, and his sense of humor comes across more dry than sarcastic, but my reasoning for choosing Bennett is simple… Chris Pratt. If Andy Dwyer can become Star-Lord, then Bennett could become Woody.

Lace Gross is someone you probably don’t know, but he was a on a short-lived NBC drama-thriller called Crisis and he’s got the right look for Quantum. He’s not a comedian, and he can be serious, so balancing Bennett’s Woody with Gross’ Quantum would make for an excellent “world’s worst superhero team”.


Archer & Armstrong

Cam: Archer, Logan Lerman – This one took a little longer than the others. Archer is a younger character that is indoctrinated since his birth by an evil organization, but eventually realizes that he has been manipulated and teams up with the immortal hobo, Armstrong, whom he was sent to assassinate. He has the ability to mimic any ability he sees, be it physical or mental, and is in terrific shape. After seeing Lerman in both the Percy Jackson movies (the books were better, but he was good) and Fury, I think he has terrific range to play both the indoctrinated, hyper-religious assassin and the confused, burgeoning superhero.

For Armstrong, John Goodman – Armstrong is an affable, immortal hobo with a penchant for good drink and good poetry. During his long, long life he has rolled with the likes of Michelangelo and Da Vinci, but more recently has teamed up with Archer to form a buddy-cop comedy of a super-duo. I’ll admit, Goodman might be a tad old to play Armstrong, but he has the look, the humor, and the girth. He would be absolutely perfect.


Stephen: I like Dave Franco for Archer. Based on his performance in Unfinished Business, I definitely think he could capture the sheltered, naive aspect of Archer’s personality, and I think if given the chance he could hold his own in some action sequences.

I’m gonna just tag on to Cam’s choice for Armstrong here, and say John Goodman would be great, but to offer my own reasoning, I choose him because of his performance in Kevin Smith’s Red State. I remember seeing that for the first time and thinking, “When did John Goodman (kind of) get in shape and become a badass?”


Got some of your own suggestions for who should star in the Valiant Comics movies? Let us know in the comments!