By Dustin Cabeal
I’m sure for some they’re probably tired of reading the backstories of former Ninjas, but I for one wish we had already gone through the alphabet once with this story. This issue is all about Ninja-G, and her story has similarities to the other Ninjas, but her race and gender make her story different.
It’s the fact that Christos Gage has embraced that fact, especially in the #MeToo time we’re in that makes this particular issue so powerful. The harassment and racism play a role in G’s story, it’s not the entire story, but a significant role. Especially considering what we’ve learned about the Acclimation Bureau in the last issue. That’s the brilliant part of what Gage and Valiant have done here, they’ve made sense out of all the drama in the stories. Colin’s entire backstory is what makes him the person and character that he is, but by using a third party to control and construct his life from the shadows, it explains why his character is that way but leaves him open to change in the future. Frankly, being MI-6’s ninja is only going to be interesting for so long, and by going down their route, it frees him to do more and be more.
Again, this issue is all about G. By now you should be able to figure out the formula that Gage has established. There are some twists that are obvious this time around, but ultimately, it’s a well-told story from Gage making it the stand out issue in the arc.
Working with Valiant has made Juan José Ryp’s artwork grow. He’s always been phenomenal, but with the wrong colorist, his artwork would look waxy and fake. He’s adapted his style so that it’s still very detailed, but now it meshes with a broader variety of colorists. That and his overall storytelling is top notch, especially on this issue. You can see G’s attitude and defiance all throughout the issue, but then see the switch to how mellowed and reserved she’s become. In particular, you can read the fear on her face when she realizes she could lose the life she’s built while hiding from MI-6. It’s some of Ryp’s best work since teaming with Valiant, and it only makes me look forward to more.
The backstory was solid on this issue as well. It’s a straight continuation of the last issue and is likely to tie into something revealed in the next issue. Olivetti’s artwork still looks a bit out of place in the Valiant U, but maybe with time, his style could grow as well.
What’s great about this new series is that if you’re just coming into the Ninjak world, it’s intriguing, full of mystery, spies, and action. It’s enjoyable just for what is happening without knowing all that came before. If you did read all the previous Ninjak stories, then there are extra layers of story that are paying off. It’s the type of pay off that most companies reserve for big events, but with Valiant, it seems to be for the betterment of the character and stories to come. It’s a vision of the future that I’m sure more fans would appreciate in their superhero comics.