Publisher: Valiant
Jeff Parker and Javier Pulido – Words and Art
Dave Sharpe with Javier Pulido – Letters

I was very impressed with the preview for this new run of Ninjak and I am delighted to say that the full issue lives up to expectations. There’s pop culture references, strong art and some real fun to be had. It’s really nice to be able to say this is a great opener for this title.

This full issue has a lot of action in it. As it’s a new number one you would expect some exposition but this is really well done. It comes in the form of surveillance agent Myna who narrates a lot of the early plot. Sometimes narration can seem a bit much but here it works very well. It feels like she’s taking the time to speak to the reader in a friendly but guarded way. We get a strong insight into her inner thoughts and I very much enjoyed hearing what she was thinking.

The narration helps move the plot allowing the art to show and not tell. It also helps ease newer readers unfamiliar with Ninjak to get the general gist of who Colin King is and the kind of person he is, which you need for launching a book like this. Everything feels like a light touch, it’s not heavy handed.

Also not heavy handed is the fact many of the tropes and plot going on will be familiar to anyone who has watched spy or thriller films. Likely if you have ever watched a modern Bond film you will be familiar with some of what’s going on here. The release of the names of the cover agents for example does remind you of the plot of Skyfall (well it did me) albeit in a very basic way.

We also get the classic male lead secret agent rescues a female agent who is suddenly in trouble, along with globe trotting and asides to the media. However, it’s all done really well and it feels very fresh. I recognise the tropes but honestly they are still dealt with in a really original and unique way.

Part of that is due to the bold art. It’s so strong and stylish. It really works for the tone of the book. The colouring helps pick out changes in scene and location and even flashbacks so easily. There doesn’t need to be a huge amount of detail but there is enough to keep things interesting and set the scene. This art feels confident and as a result conveys the confidence of Ninjak at the same time lending it the slightly unreal quality I am sure we’d have if we saw an MI6 ninja foil an assassination in Istanbul. It just makes it feel like a spy thriller.

The character work is also well done. Myna has some really nice moments showing her stress and tension as her world has turned upside down following the leak of her name as an agent. She’s very much the more human of the characters with Colin King still styled very nicely as Ninjak though there is a great panel with his eyes and mask. Even Colin’s civilian getup with sunglasses screams suave secret agent.

There’s also some really nice touches of sarcastic humour from Colin as he states the grim reality now facing Myna. This book never feels grim and I think part of that is due to the way the art and writing work well together to build this world. It has a great tonal balance.

The ending surprised me in a good way. Whereas the earlier stuff in Istanbul felt like quite a modern spy thriller with a touch of current politics, the ending decides to throw some more classic comic book weirdness at us. I am very excited to see where that goes because I was not expecting it and yet there’s no jarring shift of tone. It works so well.

The lettering too fits perfectly. It’s clear and well defined and works so well with the art. I do like it when it just melds together and shows how much care and attention has been put into this book on every level. It feels like a real collaborative project.

If you have never read any Ninjak before I would certainly say this is a great jumping on point. If, like me, you have read a lot of Ninjak in the past you will certainly find a lot to enjoy here. I am looking forward to seeing what lies in store for this run of Ninjak. I am most definitely on board for more.

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