Ninjak has defeated Roku and survived “The Siege of King’s Castle”. What’s next for our now homeless hero? Apparently, it’s one of those periodic Valiant flash forward stories.
“Many years from now”, or some variant of that, seems to be a popular way to start a story arc over at Valiant. Granted, many times that is exciting or refreshing if a character seems to be stuck spinning his or her wheels. In Ninjak #18, I was more than a little disappointed to get thrown into Colin’s far future. His castle was just destroyed. His wealth depleted. Ninjak’s life is in ruins. I guess I was just ready for that story, instead of geriatric Ninjak fighting martial arts clones on a train.
Luckily, Matt Kindt is as capable as ever, making this story that I didn’t want, at least be one that I could enjoy. This is largely due to his ability to write compelling interactions for these characters. In this case it’s a team up between Colin’s gray hair and the Eternal Warrior. We get some allusions to a past event, presumably the aftermath of the previous arc, that involved Ninjak bringing about the demise of MI-6. This reinforces him as a bridge-burner and a maverick, always operating by his own code, consequences be damned.
Ninjak of course wants to do things his way, and Gilad isn’t having any of it. The quips between our two protagonists ring true, and Kindt successfully manages to make the long history between them apparent. I was particularly fond of an exchange that ended with Ninjak remarking, “Problem is, if all you have is an axe…every problem looks like a tree.”
Thankfully, the back-up story in this issue is set around the end of the last arc, so at least we get a little bit of present day storytelling. Unfortunately, it appears to be calling back to the recent “Operation: Deadside” arc, which in my opinion was not one of the stronger arcs of the series. Colin also threatens to stab Neville with a sword during this segment, which falls flat for me. Although, they are literally arguing in the middle of the ruins of Colin’s castle, so maybe I should give him a pass.
Khari Evans takes over the pencilling on this issue, which is fine. Evans provides good artwork and I’ve greatly enjoyed his previous work on things like Harbinger. I can’t help but wish we would have gotten Diego Bernard for a little longer, as I think his style fits this particular book a little better. That said, Evans and Bernard aren’t polar opposites by any means, and the transition is not jarring. Evans continues the trend of this series by telling the story without getting too crazy. The colors are fine, and help with the transition in artists. Ultimately, there isn’t anything particularly remarkable about them. At the same time, they aren’t given a chance to shine, as much of the issue takes place amidst snow covered backdrops.
Ninjak #18 is good but not great. Fans of the series have no reason to quit now, but I can’t necessarily recommend this as a good jumping on point for new readers.
- Solid dialogue between the protagonists
- Did we really need to have a flash forward right now?