Ninjak #17, in short, feels like the culmination of everything writer Matt Kindt has done with the character so far. Every story in the last 16 issues has basically been leading up to this story,“The Siege of King’s Castle”. Every thread led here.
Diego Bernard and Alisson Rodriguez’s art in this issue is absolutely phenomenal, and the dimensions added by the colors of Ulises Arreola and Andrew Dalhouse rounds out what has been a consistently stunning set of visuals for Matt Kindt’s story. The art is fairly standard modern comic book art, but is beautiful in its simplicity. It isn’t trying to distract you with flashy visuals or abstract colors, it’s simply visualising the story for the reader, and that’s wonderful. It’s the kind of art you want to see on a long running book, consistent, gorgeous, but no where near gaudy.
Now, this issue suffers from a bit of the same plights I’ve found throughout the entire series, in that it just feels like nothing was really fleshed out. The issue just left me feeling like I read a book where nothing much happened, despite this being the climax to what should be a fairly engaging story. I think the reason behind this is the relatability of our protagonist.
While Ninjak is a fantastic character, I’ve found it difficult to relate to him throughout the series, and that doesn’t change with this issue. The events that surround him are a lot of fun to read, he’s literally a ninja/spy/secret agent, and that’s a classically cool concept for a hero. The problem is long term relatability, which is something comic book characters need, as they’re generally designed to be read about for years on end.
Ninjak isn’t entirely unrelatable, his relationship with Angelina and the tragedy involved therein is fantastic and very easy for readers to empathize with. His abandonment by his parents is also something that readers can latch onto. However, these are not the traits that the Ninjak book generally focuses on, which turns the character into a brightly-colored James Bond, fun for a bit but not someone you see yourself in.
Now, this issue does focus on those two aspects of Colin King, his relationship with Angelina and his parents, much more than normal. That would explain why this is one of the better issues in the run. While I’m not saying the book has been subpar in the past, it very much could have been better. This issue isn’t perfect, but it did a lot better in allowing me relate to Mr. King than past issues. This is good given that this is probably Ninjak’s lowest point. If we can’t relate to a man who’s hit rock bottom, then we have a problem.
Ninjak #17 also reveals Roku’s identity to Ninjak, which naturally comes as a huge surprise for the character. Roku is angry about what happened to her, and blames it entirely on Colin. He of course feels guilty himself, but tries to explain to her that he did everything in his power to rectify his mistakes. The dialogue in their interactions feels natural and works very well towards the dynamic of a scorned woman and a man whose best wasn’t good enough.
This issue’s installment of ”The Lost Files”, the stories we get at the end of each issue that explain a piece of Ninjak’s background, finished the saga of his parents, the Russian double agents who couldn’t care less about their child. The characterization of these two, and especially of the mother, as cold-hearted, soulless people whose emotions have been stamped out by lives of violence has always been fantastic.
We get to see the actual abandonment of Colin as a child, and just how little it affects his parents. We also see how a life of espionage and deceitful seduction has destroyed what love was between these two. Their story has always been a fascinating backup for me, and this issue provided a good ending to it.
Andres Guinaldo’s art for the backup feels like a natural transition from the rest of the book. It’s very slightly rougher and more simplistic, but there’s definitely nothing to complain about. It’s well done, but won’t blow anyone away.
Ninjak #17 is good, but nothing to write home about. The art is rich, deeply colored, and smooth, providing an extremely pleasant visual experience for the reader. The climax of the “Siege of King’s Castle” storyline is satisfactory, and while definitely enjoyable, isn’t likely to leave any lasting impressions on its audience, which can partially be blamed on a failure to focus on the relatable aspects of Ninjak himself.
- Beautiful, clean art
- Satisfactory climax to "Siege of King’s Castle"
- Engaging closure to parent’s story
- Protagonist can be difficult to relate to
- Protagonist can be difficult to relate to