So, let’s just get right into it; kicking a guy out of a fucking building is always a solid cliffhanger, and the review shouldn’t take much of a preamble. The issue picks up with Ninjak and Roku still in a freefall after Ninjak sedated Kannon and ruined his finances. Ninjak realizes he’s going to have to erase himself from the security footage, so he engages some of his Ninjak-gadgets to get back into the building, kill some henchmen, and come face to face with the last people he wants to see in Kannon’s office. The bulk of character development takes place in the past of this issue, in another one of those classic Colin vs. Alain “who can kill each other first?” games. In the backup, Colin continues to build his skills while also maintaining an illicit affair with a coworker. That will surely end well.
I like a lot of the stylistic choices in this issue, and I don’t know if I should praise Kindt’s script or Mann’s paneling. There are two separate moments in the main story where Ninjak uses a very specific, almost tai-chi-like sequence of hand motions to trigger specific gadgets in his suit (although, having “haptic gloves” that type by themselves seems like overkill). I don’t know what it was about those sequences that stuck out particularly, but I really dug them, and the window they gave into a more practical aspect of Ninjak’s stealth suit.
The thing that continues to trip me up about this series is the relationship between Colin King and his erstwhile-Alfred, Alain. They’re constantly in this antagonizing relationship, and Colin keeps trying to kill Alain. I think we’re supposed to get that Alain is abusive, at least physically, if not just emotionally, and while I’m not one for lurid-for-its-own-sake, I don’t know that I buy it. He’s a crusty, mean old piece of shit, but he’s not on the level of, say, Euless Boss’s daddy or Clint and Barney Barton’s stepdad. Those guys behave abusively, and Alain behaves like he’s got a stiff upper lip and also hates his job. Anyway, here’s hoping that gets addressed or resolved soon, because, while I love flashback sequences into Colin’s mysterious past, I don’t know how much more interest I have in that.
I’m digging that the Lost Files stories from the ends of the issues are starting to become sequential and aren’t just scattered windows into the past of Ninjak. It’s like getting a real double feature every month, and it’s definitely a value-add on Valiant’s part. I don’t know how sustainable it will be, in terms of Kindt’s output mostly (if he’s focusing on Past Aways, now that Mind MGMT is just about over, he’s still got what, two? three? other Valiant titles?) I’d love to see him continue to do them, I just don’t want him to sacrifice one for the other. The continuity of the Lost Files is part of the reason why the flashbacks in the main stories aren’t really landing for me. Where a series like Southern Bastards has an arc to its flashbacks, or they’re specifically designed as a counterpoint to the current action, most of Ninjak’s feel like Amusing Stories From Colin King’s Unhappy Childhood.
Overall, Ninjak continues a stretch of good, character-focused Valiant titles out of the aftermath of The Valiant, right alongside Bloodshot: Reborn and Divinity. I’m still intrigued by each issue of the series, and I enjoy its tight action sequences. I just sometimes wish there was a little more to it.
Ninjak #3 Writer: Matt Kindt Artist: Clay Mann & Seth Mann; Butch Guice & Brian Thies Colorist: Ulises Arreola Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/20/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital