Ninjak, Valiant's BA Ninja!
I pretty much love doing reviews and I have done a ton of stuff from publishers like Image and Boom! but I have yet to do anything from Valiant. Until now! I felt like now would be a good time to talk about a Valiant book because; A) I haven’t done a Valiant book yet, B) they have some really cool properties that are pretty old but have also been redone, and C) they just signed a huge contract of movie rights. DMG Entertainment signed a deal worth nine figures with Valiant for the movie rights to a few characters and if they play their cards right they could end up with a seriously good cinematic universe like the big two, particularly Marvel.
The book I chose for my first review is Ninjak. I admitted already that Valiant has some BA characters and books like Bloodshot, Shadowman, Quantum and Woody, Archer and Armstrong, X-O Manowar, and many others, but I went with Ninjak for two reasons; it was the first issue, and I enjoyed it. As many of you know I’m not about bashing books so my personal enjoyment is a major factor in the decision to do a review and I can say for sure that I enjoyed Ninjak.
The book starts with a fun little classified specification on Ninjak’s “Multi-Tool Battle Belt” so we get a nice little preview of the type of weaponry to expect and they package it up in a top secret style page which is fitting considering he is a M.I. 6 agent. Although the tool belt is cool we all know the book isn’t starting there, it actually starts with a five panel page of a blind folded ninja fighting a bunch of other ninja’s while Cranes fly all around them. I liked the start but it was just a tease because the second page is three panels of a child eating popcorn and watching a movie. The only thing the page says is “Then” at the bottom and it quickly shifts to “Now” as they give us some exposition on Ninjak’s mission.
So within three short pages Ninjak draws us into a back story and kicks us in the face with a scary mission briefing of a super BA target named Roku. Ninjak’s target, Roku, is killing a Russian prison guard that is trying to hold her in a custom made prison but the exposition is what is scary; she can either feel no pain or she likes it, and she has had “Genetic tailoring” so her hair can cut through metal and she can strangle a man with only three strands. Yeah pretty BA if you ask me, but we all know that Ninjak isn’t going to be a push over himself. All in all the exposition about Roku is three pages of her taking care of Russian prison guards but it all leads up to a killer one page shot of Ninjak holding his sword while he quotes a line from the movie he was watching earlier. Told you, he wasn't going to be a push over.
Ninjak asked her if he was supposed to be impressed and true to the game Roku says “who cares” as she grabs a gun to attack Ninjak. There are nearly three entire pages of fighting before they pick up the dialog and Ninjak clicks an explosive trigger. A bomb goes off behind Roku and she is dazed but Ninjak just tells her to stop and he lets her go. At that point I was wondering why he decided to let her go but he goes on to tell Roku he saved her life because she was going to hack into their system and trigger a nuke. I guess maybe he did it to save them both but someone in his ear piece tells him to clean up before he blows up the base he rescued her from. Of course the blast is formidable but what really impressed me was the fact that he gets into a stealth bomber looking plane to get away. At this point I’m starting to draw comparisons to Batman; the Ninja like persona and the super cool belt, and now a BA plane.
[caption id="attachment_1294" align="alignnone" width="323"] Roku[/caption]
After his mission in Russia and saving Roku the story flashes back to his childhood movie time and they reveal he lives in a castle with parents that could care less what he does with himself, probably has an Alfred and everything. I’m more than convinced he is the clone of all BA characters like Bruce Wayne and James Bond, possible some other cool British characters, we will see.
The next page Ninjak gets debriefed at home and they show an aerial of Ninjak’s castle, and I have to say it is pretty stellar, certainly comparable to Wayne Manor. Ninjak gets debriefed on his new assignment but just before it’s revealed what he is going to be up to next it’s revealed that Ninjak's name is Ninjak because he is actually Ninja K. Makes sense to me, but I sort of thought it was because his name was Jack, more like Nin Jack, but it was nice to get some clarification.
During the debriefing it starts to get very spy like with the verbiage and new assignment to infiltrate a weapons maker and dealer. We also learn that his in is because he financed the release of Roku, his right hand woman. So all in all he has to get in and befriend a billionaire named Kannon, infiltrate his organization, and find out who the other seven leaders of a group named the Shadow Seven are. No problem, right? Well it seems pretty cake when he ends up singing karaoke with the guy. I enjoy the way the book has been flowing as far as the "now" portion. The way they transition and fit in the Roku mission with his new mission is done well, it provides clarification without being overt in a subtle but effective way.
I’m sure that things get crazy later but for now things flash back to when he is a child and is sneaking into his room but he gets caught by some big guy with a mustache. At this point the only thing I don’t really dig is the short flashback story line. I wish the flashback was more than a page here and there between the “now” parts, but I can see the back story setting up for something bigger or at least painting the picture as to why a little rich boy would want to become a ninja.
As the “now” part rolls on my hunch about things getting crazy with Kannon were right, they strip him and naked and drop him five miles outside of Tokyo expecting him to make it to an appointment at eight. Ninjak is a ninja so of course he makes it on time but the next test had to be hard for Ninjak; he has to take a beating. As a ninja I assume it would be hard to fight off the urge to kill all of them, but he does it with no problem.
The books main story line comes to an end with a “then” where he gets a whooping by the big guy with a mustache and a “now” where he earns the trust of Kannon and is granted anything he wants. Ninjak asks him for a stealth jet outfitted with top secret nano-tech and chemical weapons payloads. There is a small back story bonus at the end that chronicles a job ten years ago where he gets his butt kicked but it’s just a bonus to the actual story.
I certainly want to know more, that hook was way too good, and the questions I want to know are from both the then and now story lines. I like the dual approach to the story line though they could do more with the then part. There could be more, sure, but I’m still interested and still hooked. I love the now part because it has everything a spy thriller fan could ask for, government agents up to and including Ninjak, bad guys and bad guy organizations, and other BA villainous people like Roku. Ninjak hits on all cylinders and I’m glad I picked it for my first Valiant book. I will definitely be checking out book two.