Recently I was asked for recommendations for things that were similar to DC’s Grayson and really the only thing I could come up with was Ninjak. But here’s the thing, it’s not so much that Ninjak is comparable to Grayson, it’s that Grayson is comparable to Ninjak. Because if we’re all really honest with ourselves, Ninjak is a far better series and is doing the superhero espionage game a lot better. I’ve gotten used to Matt Kindt’s writing on his Valiant series. He tends to create a formula for a storyline and stick with it until the end. It’s not a bad thing because he always manages to add twists and turns along the way, but you do tend to get the idea of how the issue is going to go. Such is the case with Ninjak #7.
The second chapter of the “Shadow War” kicks off in front of a school. Our Shadow Seven member this time is Sanguine, but I’ll be honest I don’t remember her name ever being said. It’s also worth noting that it feels as if more time has passed since the last issue. Sanguine is watching Neville’s daughter which brings Collin out to talk to her. She asks him to follow her and as they walk she tells him her backstory. If you read the “Lost Files” from the previous issue, you’ll see that Sanguine’s journey brings her to a familiar setting and we also see a familiar bad guy during this time as well. The rest of the issue goes about as excepted.
And I’m okay with that. Here’s the thing. Ninjak is fucking badass. He shouldn’t have a five issue fight with everyone. He should basically be able to take down most people. Why you ask? So that when he does face a big baddie, there’s some weight to the fight. They become a credible threat. As it stands, Sanguine is still a threat to other Valiant Universe characters so it’s not as if her stock is lowered by losing to Ninjak. Oh, spoiler, she loses to Ninjak, but then you really should have seen that coming.
What works for Kindt’s story is that it’s really not about how he’s taking down the Shadow Seven, though I find it interesting that the cat is out of the bag about him taking over the Weaponeer position. It’s the fact that he can’t kill them. He can’t even remotely fuck up, because if he gets the wrong one… boom! It’s this challenge and potential fuck up that makes it interesting and frankly very espionage inspired. It really comes across as a plot line for a James Bond film if old 007 was a bad ass ninja, which he is not. I will also mention that I continue to love Ninjak’s dialogue and one-liners, he’s just so snarky it’s perfect.
If you know anything about me then you should know that I feel that Juan Jose Ryp is one of the best artists working in comics… ever. I absolutely love everything he illustrates and so it’s difficult for me to find new things to compliment or adore when I just love it all. He has a talent for gore which is highlighted some in this issue. Perhaps what I found most amazing about his artwork and visual storytelling is that when Sanguine and Ninjak begin taking a walk, visually they’re not shown until we come out of Sanguine’s story, but I still had the overwhelming impression of them walking. The man is amazing and he and Kindt make a great team.
The “Lost File” was very cool and shows how connected and well-plotted Kindt has this storyline. I seriously think that Valiant should just spin that off into its own book, but release them at the same time so that Kindt can continue to mix the story like he did here.
While this issue has a pretty straight forward formula that was basically introduced in the last issue, it’s still an incredible read. It’s taking a formula and keeping it interesting that’s truly impressive in comics, because otherwise it would be dull and you could just read the first and last issue of an arc and know how the rest turned out. With Ninjak, you don’t want to miss an issue because of all the extra tidbits that make the formula great.