Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Francis Portela
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
What You Need To Know:
Back in 1993, Ninjak #1 was the first Valiant publication to hit number one in sales. The character’s been a Valiant staple ever since, and played a key part in the brand’s 2012 relaunch. Valiant’s currently attempting to push interest in Ninjak again, particularly in light of a deal with Bat In The Sun to produce a web-series Ninjak Versus The Valiant Universe. This #0 is part of the promotional strategy, and the aim is to introduce you to the character.
What You’ll Find Out
Who is the man called Ninjak? If you’re at all curious about the super-spy, then this is an issue for you. It’s broken up into two time-periods, one set in the present that puts Ninjak on a pretty standard mission. The second is essentially a summary of his life so far, helping you to understand the character, introducing you to his complex backstory, and setting the scene for his greatest enemy.
What Just Happened?
All in all, this is a pretty standard introductory one-shot. It serves its purpose perfectly well; it’s basically a class of Ninjak 101, and you leave with literally all the information you need in order to understand his ongoing series. Unfortunately, as a result more Ninjak-aware readers will find a lot to less to take away from this.
That said, Kindt does a decent job telling the tale. He’s been writing Ninjak for a while now, and he handles the character with effortless ease. Meanwhile, I have to say that Portela’s artistic choices really do help this book avoid just being a formulaic introductory comic. Although he employs a number of gorgeous splash panels, the standard page is divided into two halves. They’re intersected by a flying arrow, and the reason becomes clear by the end of the issue. It’s an intriguing artistic choice, one like nothing I’ve seen before in a comic. I’m really impressed at his creativity.
Dalhouse’s coloring skills are critical to this issue. He uses a duller palette to get us used to the flashback sections, and we swiftly become familiar enough with the approach that it’s not even noticeable when he skips to normal coloring for the flashbacks too. Parts of the flashback sequence stand out just as much the contemporary tale.
The real artistic highlight of this whole book, though, is a gorgeous image showing Ninjak’s mystical visions. Portela renders this scene in a fascinating and unusual style, and Dalhouse inverts the colors beautifully to emphasize it.
All in all, this is a beautiful book. That said, if you’re familiar with Ninjak, I don’t feel you really need it. If you want to meet the character for the first time, though, it’s a must-read.