'Ninjak' #1 Dishes Dizzying, Mesmeric Violence
The new Valiant reboot radically delivers on its style-suspense-sci-fi and swords.
New number ones always come with a string of gorgeously rendered incentive covers. Ninjak (Volume 4) #1 is not looking to break this trend, but don't allow yourself to be distracted by these heavenly visions either. Typically, we'd bow before David Nakayama, Caspar Wijngaard, Damion Scott, and Ibrahim Moustafa. But this isn't their show, and they don't come close to conveying the radical interiors found within the actual comic book.
When a publisher gives Javier Pulido the gig, they're guaranteeing that their comic won't look like anything else on the stands. As writer Jeff Parker notes in the first issue's backmatter, the artist's line-work is deceptively simple and mistakingly dismissed as cartoony by certain readers reared on traditional superhero tales. Pulido is no factory artist; he's a kinetic wizard who infuses his pages with a dizzying mesmeric quality. Pulido's panels are a trap, and your freedom rests with his will. He'll let you go when he's done, but you're forever tied to his leash, obediently returning whenever his pencils sing their whistle.
Pulido became my master during his 2014 She-Hulk series. He brought an intoxicating blend of style, humor, and cool to Jen Walters, and he does the same thing for Colin King. It's a blend that Valiant's ninja assassin so desperately needs, as the narrative fueling Ninjak #1 is dangerously familiar.
King's former MI6 handlers are compromised. A nefarious organization calling themselves "Daylight" has infiltrated their minds, exposing their secrets to the world and their undercover agents to their enemies. One such target, or "Songbird," is tailing King when the guns come out of the shadows. Thankfully, the assassin who was supposed to be her quarry has eyes in the back of his head, or maybe drones in the sky.
Ninjak makes mincemeat. It may not taste good, but it sure looks swell. Pulido's violence is the best violence.
Parker calls the book "style-suspense-sci-fi and swords." Hell yeah. We love all of that, right? He operates in the same arena as Jason Bourne, James Bond, Mission: Impossible, and Queen & Country. He dips into real-life tragedies like Jamal Khashoggi's gruesome assassination to add an uncomfortable dread. And while the hallmarks are easily recognizable, their combination swirled together by Pulido's unbeatable draftsmanship and flair transforms Ninjak #1 into an unparalleled beauty.
This comic was one of our most anticipated books of the year, and I'm utterly giddy to report that it's an absolute banger. Parker pairing King with his Songbird, Myna, suggests an exhilarating screwball-comedy partnership to bash against their super-powered opponents. And, oh yes, while the trappings appear lifted from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and his genre pals, Ninjak is still very much a Valiant book, and Valiant villains get damn weird.
Parker and Pulido supply a comic that does not require continuity familiarity. Colin King escaped Britain's ninja program to become the best of the best. That's all you need to know, and whatever other necessary details are distributed in the first few pages. There's no excuse as to why you shouldn't pick up this book.
And if you do, you'll join us as Pulido zealots. Welcome to the cult, friends.
Words and Art: Jeff Parker & Javier Pulido
Letters: Dave Sharpe & Javier Pulido
Cover A: David Nakayama
Cover B: Caspar Wijngaard
Cover C: Damion Scott
Preorder Cover: Ibrahim Moustafa
1:100 Prisma Glass Variant Cover: Javier Pulido
On Sale: 7/14/21
Synopsis: Out of the shadows and into the spotlight… the world’s greatest superspy has been exposed! Colin King is Ninjak and he has a target on his back like never before. With enemies lurking around every corner, how will Ninjak survive when there’s nowhere left to hide and the world is gunning for him? Jeff Parker and Javier Puildo are about to take you on a non-stop thrill ride.