Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Diego Bernard
The Lost Files Artist: Khoi Pham
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
If you are not familiar with the excellent Valiant Entertainment series ‘Ninjak’ then this issue is a great jumping on point. Colin King is a MI-6 agent deeply trained as a ninja assassin with lots of money and loads of tricked out gear. Through the first threads of story in the series we learn that Colin is the son of two uncaring parents, living in an old expensive castle with an abusive butler after being mysteriously abandoned by his parents, who defiantly runs away from home to pursue his own personal endeavours. Colin has gone through a lot in his life training to become a deadly assassin which has led him to the Shadow Seven organization and even to the Deadside (the dimension/plane of existence in which ghosts and paranormal exist in the Valiant universe). Being part of the Ninja-K project has Colin King facing women with hair like sharp blades, homeless looking guys in shiny spandex suits with floating tech balls, Dr.Silk’s cloned assassins, the Undead Monk, and even Shadowman as the Magpie. The book has gone to some wild places, all exciting and full of action, and always feel like a well done Batman/James Bond mix with heavy spy concepts throughout. Ninjak is an absolutely underrated book and this first act of the new story arc “The Siege of King’s Castle” proves that in many ways.
Ninjak issues are typically split into two halves where the first half is ongoing storyline where we see what Ninjak is up to, while the second half of the book is named “The Lost Files” which delve deep into pivotal & important moments and/or provide secrets behind Colin or another person’s history. The first half of “The Siege of King’s Castle” begins with Colin returning to his castle home to relax after spending around 30 days in the Deadside completing a mission, when he is startled to realize that too many subtle things are out of place in his house and that he has been found out. Colin barely escapes into a panic room in the floorboards escaping rigged explosions, but ends up being buried by his destroyed castle home. Little by little he discovers that he has been found out and his whole life begins folding in on him forcing him to survive in the shadows. Diego Bernard’s art holds up well and he does a good job of illustrating Colin King’s split decision making as he must make lots of impromptu choices as his life folds in on himself. Matt Kindt wrote this story with veiled secrecy and it seems like he wants us to peel back the story piece by piece as we peel back each issue in excited enjoyment. The Lost Files story in the second half of the book is one that goes way back to a time when before Colin was conceived which is kind of enlightening and explains something that was eluded to in prior Ninjak story. This side story is simple and interesting enough that you do not have to be an old reader to appreciate it’s nuance. The art is changed up for this second half with an edgy linear drawing style, and the art comes to life with a 70s colour palate that compliments the art well.
This book is a fantastic package of writing & art and is a great way for people to break into the Ninjak comics. Valiant offers some of the cheapest trade paperbacks on the market for people to break into the first stories which is a great way for people to break in, and the Ninjak series does a great job of consistently making each story arc fresh & exciting without having to know prior information. This book leaned a little more to the 007 James Bond side of storytelling in this issue so if you like espionage stories and badassery then you should give Ninjak #14 a shot. Valiant Entertainment is still very much an underdog in subscribers when it comes to facing the readership of DC and Marvel, but I believe people are getting wise to the fact that some of the best content in current comics seems to be coming out of Valiant right now. Order your copy now at your local comic book shop!
~ T.J Head