In this latest reboot of Ninjak from Valiant Entertainment, we see a deliberate anachronism here. At least, in terms of art style. And story. And really, anything else that matters.
As mentioned before, this incarnation of Ninjak is Valiant Entertainment’s latest attempt to reboot the character. The original version of this character was born in 1993, back when Valiant was just Valiant Comics. This original Ninjak was actually the #1 best-selling comic book of November 1993, so it’s got a storied lineage here.
Ninjak #1 is by Jeff Parker and Javier Pulido. Javier Pulido also serves as the letterer for this comic book alongside Dave Sharpe. David Nakayama, Caspar Wijngaard, Damion Scott, Ibrahim Moustafa, and Javier Pulido are the artists for cover A, cover B, cover C, the preorder cover, and the 1:100 Prisma Glass variant cover respectively.
Ninjak #1 will go on sale on July 14, 2021 for $3.99. You can find print copies of this comic book at your local comic book store. If you’re fine with the digital version though, you can buy it on Amazon for ComiXology or Kindle.
Warning: spoilers for Ninjak #1 below. If you want to read the latest incarnation of Valiant Entertainment’s flagship comic book for yourself, stop here and come back once you’ve returned from this world of spies. And ninjas. Don’t forget the ninjas.
Ninjak #1: Plot Summary
Ninjak #1 starts off with a bit of the supernatural stuff. We get a blond psychic reaching into the minds of a pair of very high-raking MI6 officers and pulling out everything they know. The result is the biggest intelligence leak in the history of this world.
Not that Ninjak (aka. Colin King) himself knows that at the moment. Oh, no. He’s too busy protecting a journalist from an assassination attempt by a very large and angry mob. And it really is an “attempt” with Ninjak around to intervene. Turns out, guns aren’t that much use in very close quarters against a guy with a sword, and especially not the knives the mob mostly has. The mob of assassins is quickly dispatched, and the journalist safely escapes.
But anyway, the first time Ninjak actually finds out about the intelligence leak is when he has to protect the MI6 agent observing him from yet more assassins. Turns out, that intelligence leak also meant that a whole bunch of MI6 agents all over the world met an unfortunate end. This guy just prevented one more.
Seems like it’s a decent ending there, right? Well, not really. So he and his watcher are riding on a train back to the UK, when the train suffers a very sudden derailment. Turns out, Ninjak has a bunch of assassins who are also after him. Except, these assassins don’t seem to look all that human. So what is the deal behind these supernatural assassins? Well, we just have to find out in the next issue, because that’s it for this one.
Ninjak #1: The Good
I think the most compelling thing about Ninjak #1 is the art style. There’s a distinctly and deliberately retro look to the whole comic book. The solid lines, the vibrant colors, and the lack of detail and texture on surfaces make this comic book feel like a throwback to the ’80s. It makes for a unique look to the comic. Older readers might find it nostalgic. I just find it artfully distinct.
The introduction of supernatural powers and characters into an otherwise mundane setting also makes the plot rather interesting. I mean, it’s pretty clear that those MI6 officers at the beginning had no clue that telepaths existed, and thus had no defense against the one who read their minds. Those nonhuman beings at the end about to try their hands, claws, etc. at taking out Ninjak could also be an interesting plot element. It will be interesting to see Colin King out of his element for once, fighting against foes he has absolutely no experience in dealing with. Or King shows off his surprising knowledge of supernatural beings. We will just have to see in the next issue what happens.
Ninjak #1: The Bad
Maybe it’s just the first issue, but so far I’m finding almost all of the characters to be very bland. The only characters who aren’t are Ninjak himself, the blond psychic woman who spilled the whole jar of beans in the first place, and the supernatural assassins at the end. That’s about it. Maybe they will fix this in the next issues.
I am also not quite fond of Ninjak’s tail. She seems really inexperienced and weak for someone who is supposedly tailing Colin King. Yes, she justifies it by claiming that she joined surveillance to avoid combat scenarios, but really, if she absolutely wanted to avoid combat, she should’ve just stayed in the UK and have been an analyst instead. That’s why I find her explanation to be more of an excuse for her to be weak instead. I just wish she actually had some good combat skills, you know, as she should have as a field agent of any description. Alas, since this is an integral part of her character now, I don’t think it will get fixed soon. Maybe she actually learns combat under Colin King’s tutelage. Hopefully, that counteracts her current weakness.
Ninjak #1 harkens back to the glory days of the 80’s comic books, mostly in terms of art style. The story is solid, but the characters are mostly a hit-or-miss. Mostly a miss in this issue. If you are interested, head on over to Valiant Entertainment and check out this comic book.
Source: Valiant Entertainment