“From Ringo Award-winning writer JEFF PARKER (Batman ’66, James Bond Origin, Thunderbolts) and visionary artist JAVIER PULIDO (The Amazing Spider-Man, Robin: Year One, She-Hulk), NINJAK #1 follows Colin King, aka NINJAK, as the secret operative is on the run after the identity of every MI6 agent is exposed. Now, Colin must embark on a global adventure to evade the deadly people who have him in their sights…”
The new Ninjak series is a departure for Valiant. The art is not what I would refer to as the Valiant house style and the plot is quite politically relevant for our time which is seldom the case for Valiant. It’s really quite bold and good to see from Valiant who have been less active lately.
When last we left Colin King he was alone as the identity of every MI6 agent including him had been made public. Now he’s working outside of… any official structure but is still taking on missions that had MI6 still been in operation and still employing him they might have passed his way.
I don’t think you need to know much about the character as this is so different to the Ninjak books that have gone before. If you are familiar with Ninjak and his supporting characters you will recognise them and certain moments might hit a bit harder, but I would say that no prior knowledge is really required.
The art is very much a key reason to read this book based on this preview alone. Javier Pulido has done some work for Valiant before in the form of a sequence in Generation Zero #6 several years ago but this is the first Valiant book where he’s the sole artist for the title and he seems to take full advantage, giving us some quite amazing panels.
My favourite part of the art is probably where Mr. Darbin and Neville seem to realise they have been drugged. The way the panels cut across faces and splice them together is really good and gives that feeling of reeling from the realisation of being drugged, creating a sense of disorientation really nicely.
The colouring is also bold and confident. There’s a lot of use of solid colour which sets the scene. The part in Istanbul is pretty much done with shades of yellow and orange and really evokes the feeling of heat and exoticness without needing to go into detail because the colouring conveys it perfectly.
The action is also well conveyed. The art is simple on the surface but every single part of it is used really well. There’s nothing extraneous here, it’s deliberate and clear and I really think the simplicity really tells the plot well.
Speaking of the plot, it is more political than we usually see from Valiant. I think anyone will be able to work out that the attempted murder of a guy at an embassy that involves a buzz saw does relate to a high profile murder/assassination that was in the news not too long ago. It’s another bold move because it very obviously relates to a real life event. It’s done well though.
The rest of the plot does intrigue. There’s questions about who the women in the bar are and why they’ve drugged Mr. Darbin and Neville – what’s going on there? Why is Ninjak being followed – does he know? What is Colin up to? Who is the guy the bad guys attempt to murder? I want to know more.
I will also say excellent lettering as usual by one of my favourite letterers Dave Sharpe.
Overall this is very different from Valiant but I admire the fact this is so boldly different. It feels like Valiant is willing to push the envelope a bit more, which can only be a good thing. I look forward to seeing what this bold new approach produces because this new Ninjak looks very intriguing so far. I look forward to more when it comes out in July.
NINJAK #1 by writer Jeff Parker, artist Javier Pulido, and letterer Dave Sharpe goes on sale July 14th, 2021 and features covers by David Nakayama, Caspar Wijngaard, Damion Scott, Ibrahim Moustafa, and Javier Pulido. The debut issue is available for preorder now at a comic shop near you.