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By Brendan Hodgdon. If, like me, you’ve been wondering whether Valiant’s most recent relaunch would be friendly to newcomers, fear not: if Ninja-K #1 is any indication, this new round of books will be very accessible indeed (and damn good to boot).
This debut issue from Christos Gage, Tomas Giorello and company does a great job of setting up the history behind the eponymous hero, in a way that both establishes the main story and quickly answers the question of how the hell MI6 wound up with a ninja division, for those of us who didn’t know but were desperately curious. The montage-y first 8 pages are a great showcase for Giorello, who delivers a ton of great action and some really fun character designs; indeed, the double-splash that concludes this part of the issue could set up three or four spinoff series all by itself.
Wrapped up in Giorello’s kinetic artwork is Gage’s effective story, which builds off of the opening history lesson by quickly and cleanly establishing Colin King’s present status quo. Under Gage’s steady plotting, we meet a Ninja-K who lacks the patriotic fervor of his predecessors, motivated by a good mercenary payday as much as a belief in right and wrong. But we also see a man struggling to connect emotionally to the people around him, including fellow hero/casual lover Livewire. Gage writes their scene together very well, hinting at what I assume are the events of past Valiant stories in a way that still functions as weighty-yet-unspoken backstory to the likes of a neophyte like me. And while the main purpose of the scene is to establish K’s emotional isolation, it also establishes Livewire so well that I immediately wanted to find more stories featuring her.
The issue wraps all this up with a scene that effortlessly combines all three of the threads from the rest of the issue. Colin King’s outsider status within the Ninja programme, his disconnection from the people around him, and the history of the programme itself all come together to launch us into the mystery of the series’ first story arc. And after how well Gage, Giorello et al. set this story up, I’m very curious to see where it goes from here.
Written by Christos Gage.
Art by Tomas Giorello.
Colors by Diego Rodriguez.
Letters by A Larger World Studios.
7.5 out of 10
‘Ninja-K’ #1 hits stores November 15.