REVIEW: Ninjak #20

There is quite a vocal group of my Crusading colleagues who rave about Valiant books, including Ninjak (yes, I am looking at you 13th Crusader!).  So it seems only fair that I cast my eye over the latest issue.

Now, before I get into the nitty-gritty of the review, let me just say that I have read and reviewed a number of Ninjak books as well as possessing a fondness for the Eternal Warrior.  As such, I feel educated enough in their respective worlds to ask – just what the hell is this mess?

Decades from now, Ninjak and Gilad are on the trail of Dr Silk who, surprise surprise has an arachnid spirit.  I am not sure if this is a dig at Marvel, but regardless, I am disappointed by the obviousness of that wrinkle.  From there its “buddy hero time” with a litany of “banter” between the two characters which is painful to read as Dr Silk offers a compromise of sorts, which doesn’t sit well the heroes.  So its off to the Deadside to corral the villain, albeit with further story compression in play.

I know why I am so disappointed in this issue.  Matt Kindt has been on fire over the last eighteen months or so.  Whilst it has been said that “every writer has at least one good book in them”, this offering proves the opposite.  It might not be all Kindt’s fault, to be honest.  My expectations may have something to do with it and I am totally ok with that.  One of the few bright spots is the conversation that Ninjak has with the shade of Punk Mambo, although this is almost spoilt with Gilad’s attempt of humour and interjections.  I get it…. Gilad can’t see Punk Mambo.  No need to re-iterate it!

Artists Khari Evans Eric Nguyen provide two distinct styles, to show the reader the differences between the real world and the Deadside.  Thanks to not advising who did what pages, I am left to assume that Evans’ work covers act one and three with Nguyen responsible for act two, where the duo first enter the Deadside and Ninjak has his moment of revelations with Mambo.  Regardless of who did what, the upshot is that the art in the first act looks pedestrian, with perspective issues and the heroes looking flat during the action scenes.  The middle bit looks better, with thinner line-work accentuating the facial expressions, which is a huge feat considering we only see Ninjak’s eyes and forehead.  For act three comments, please see act one. Ulises Arreola and Chris Sotomayer provide the colors, with whomever responsible for act two, stealing the show.

Before I get a whole load of hate mail, let me say, that this is just one book.  One bad review doesn’t destroy a comic universe, in much the same way a good review doesn’t create one.  There have been a number of quality books from Valiant in the past.  Unfortunately, this isn’t one of them.

Writing – 2.5 Stars
Art (Act 1 & 3) – 2.5 Stars
Art (Act 2) – 3.5 Stars
Colors (Act 1 & 3) – 3 Stars
Colors (Act 2) – 3.5 Stars

Written by MATT KINDT
Art by KHARI EVANS and ANDRES GUINALDO

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