It’s strange that my first real exposure to Ninjak is on a storyline where he is not active as a superhero, but even so, I see the appeal of the character and really enjoyed reading about Colin King and his skills workout the aid of wealth or weaponry. It’s no surprise that Ninjak is such a staple to the Valiant universe.
The second part of a three-issue arch entitled “The Siege of King’s Castle”, Ninjak #15 delivers big on action, drama, and violence. Although Colin King is featured beginning with page 2, the reader isn’t aware of it until later when his disguise is removed (and for someone without funds, it’s pretty good). He uses his incredible intellect and ninja skills to infiltrate the home of Russian mafia boss Volk, who says he has been forced to work for the “Shadow Seven” by Roku, a very deadly femme fatale with an incredibly long braid that she seems to control telepathically. After his explanation, Volk gives King a pen from Roku that proves as deadly as the one who gifted it. There is an eight page featurette in the back called “The Lost Files” that must factor into the larger Ninjak narrative, but was over my head, so I’m not diving into that into this review.
Now, I am probably not alone in comparing Ninjak to Batman for numerous obvious reasons, but this issue also contained heavy Daredevil influences. Take the following synopsis of this issue: “Seemingly normal protagonist defeats a bar full of thugs in hand to hand combat before travelling via rooftops to confront an overweight kingpin. The boss claims to be harassed by an assassin in red who uses her skills to get to our title character.” It could apply to a DD comic just as well as this one. However, the characters and story are unique enough to differentiate the two. Roku is scary and beautiful and Volk, also known as “The Wolf” is given a very interesting back story.
As far as the creative team goes, I have no complaints. Diego Bernard pencils a visually stimulating landscape around Matt Kindt’s plot. The introductory scene was nothing great, but sets up Colin quite well. The scenes with Roku are phenomenal, as are all of the fighting scenes. One thing I noticed about Ulises Arreola’s colors is the reliance on glare. Light is reflecting off of everything in this, and I don’t hate it. I just expect it more with metallic surfaces, which there are few of. Maybe it’s just that he fades to white more often than other colorists, or maybe I’m just nitpicking because there are so few flaws in this book. Hard to tell.
So, to reiterate, for a comic about a costumed hero in which you never see him actually in costume, this comic is very well done, and I feel as though I appreciate the man behind the mask better than if I’d jumped into an issue that was entirely “Ninjak”. While I don’t recommend jumping onto a new title mid-arc, this is a good issue so I’m assuming the issue before it is good as well. I fell as though this may be a good a jumping off point as any when it comes to Ninjak, so take the plunge!
Great, Four out of Five Stars.
NINJAK #15 (“THE SIEGE OF KING’S CASTLE” – PART 2)
Written by MATT KINDT
Art DIEGO BERNARD and KHOI PHAM
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment