Ninjak #25 (Valiant Entertainment)
Okay, take the best parts of Batman and James Bond and combine them, through in some nihilistic Buddhism, throw them in a blender, and the end result is Ninjak.
Ninjak is Colin King, a wealthy Brit who works as a spy after his parents died and he was left in the care of his abusive butler, a person so loving the Colin spent most of his childhood haunting the grounds of his estate rather than deal with the man.
He lends himself out to British Intelligence, combining all sorts of skills, gadgets, and wealth to take on the most dangerous assignments anyone can think to give him: in the past he’s been tasked with stopping alien invasions, assassinating X-O Manowar, and regularly hangs out with the Eternal Warrior. He’s a Badass Normal in the Valiant-verse, and so writer Matt Kindt gets to play with the full weight of this sort of character.
The end result is a comic that started slow and got progressively better, to where it’s now one of Valiant’s best but weirdest. There’s a lot of strange philosophy here, centered around a character who is effectively an adrenaline junkie with a death wish and enough skill to keep from dying. It’s blockbuster material.
At the start, Colin was investigating the Shadow Seven, a group of high-tech weapons dealers who dealt with cutting edge technology and weapons of mass destruction. Since then, he’s started working with them to fight off a larger threat: Master Darque, the Shadowman villain who beat his hero by recruiting him and is the background bad guy of the whole Valiant Universe, a literal god-made-flesh.
Shadowman was the weakest of the opening salvo of Valiant comics, a meandering tale that couldn’t come to terms with its hero or concept but who did have an immediately engaging villain. The protagonist faded and Darque has since plagued the Valiant Universe, causing massive destruction on a handful of occasions, and he’s one of those villains that wins even when he loses.
Back in the strongest issue of the old Shadowman series, we were given an origin story for Darque and that story has entered and currently haunts Ninjak in the form of Sandria Darque, a relative and another mysterious god-made-flesh who is clearly up to something, helping Ninjak for reasons of her own, reasons that have never been revealed, reasons that we just might learn this issue.
Artist Stephen Segovia is doing some interesting things in this book with panel layout that give an interesting illusion of movement while also making infodumps interesting. Writer Matt Kindt is Matt Kindt, so you know the story is going to be good and head in directions you might not expect – which is perfect for this title. If you like Batman and want to try something different you really should give this a look.