Ninjak #18: The Fist and The Steel Review

Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Khari Evans
Colours: Ulises Arreola & Chris Sotomayer

The Lost Files
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Andres Guinaldo
Colours: Chris Sotomayer

Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Release Date: August 10th, 2016

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One of Valiant’s tent pole series Ninjak begins a new story arc with issue #18 where the story takes place sometime in the future where Colin is an old grizzled looking man sitting on a train with Gilad the Eternal Warrior looking young as ever across from him. We learn that Colin at this point in his life has still never been accepted back into MI-6 and is on the “no-contact list” while Gilad is part of the latest incarnation of MI-6 as we learn it had fallen and a new & improved force called ‘MI-6X’. Gilad is requesting Colin’s assistance for something big despite him being on the no-contact list.

We have a new artist on this story arc, Khari Evans, and we are given a story that takes place way past the events of the King’s Siege story arc written by Matt Kindt who has been writing the entire Ninjak series. We also see the return of The Lost Files backstory in this book, however we are given more continuity taking place after King’s Siege through this backstory device. For me, this was the first book in the series that I was held back from fully appreciating this book as I disliked a good bit of things about this book. This book did do some interesting things and the good balances out the bad.

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*SPOILER WARNING*

 

Colin has a noteable moment where his head hurts while interacting with Gilad. We get some great dynamic between Gilad and Colin, despite age each character is still dangerous in their own right yet it must be said that when we see Gilad packing major heat (axes, assault rifles, grenades, etc.) under his clothes he looks much more badass than his usual self. Colin tells Gilad to hold back while he investigates the train car in a stealthy way and as he scopes out the train car he sees the target, Fitz (the ultimate fighter clone and original Shadow Seven member) but something is wrong when another person reveals themself to be Fitz, and another Fitz, and another until the entire car is filled with Fitz clones! Just then Gilad comes raging in cutting down the Fitz clones. This is when the amazing action pages begin and they are full of fun violence but after some interrogation the story then shifts to Colin and Gilad travelling to the mountains where the Undead Monk and his hidden temple once resided.

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Waiting for the duo is another remaining member of the Shadow Seven, the magic multi-armed thief Fakir who has a bunch of hazmat suited workers looking for any lingering/displaced DNA traces of the Undead Monk himself. As the hazmat suited workers are killed, the stealthy old Colin in his great looking Ninjak costume appears from the snowy foreground and scares Fakir sending him running towards a strange temporal portal. Colin fires a tracking arrow at Fakir and hits his target before jumping into the portal. As Gilad and Colin look toward the portal they tease each other with who will lead first towards this intimidating magic portal.

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The Lost Files then tells us a story starting with Colin standing in the rubble of his mansion having been destroyed with his MI-6 confidant Neville. Neville essentially tells him that he is sorry for how things went down and brings up a fact that the people that went into the Deadside with Colin in the Operation Deadside story arc were experiencing severe trauma and a magic sort of infection or disease that caused severe mental pain and that there is no cure for this, effectively warning Colin that he might experience something similar if he already hasn’t. Colin tells Neville that he’s fine and that he doesn’t need his help anymore, but as Neville leaves Colin falls to the ground experiencing severe head pain which suggests that he’s been dealing with this magic disease as well.

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The story is top notch and I love the direction of telling a story from a future standpoint and use current continuity as a base to continue the last arc through the backstory. The writing was well done and is effective for this future story, lots of extra story is teased to the reader as Gilad and Colin reference past events together which is fun to think about the time that has passed since the last story arc.

The art is where my problems begin. I like most of the art in this book however when it comes to human faces the detail in the face is too uncanny and off-putting as the torso and background art are finely done. It reminded me a bit of the video game Borderlands with that art style but it did not fit with the rest of the art. Khari Evans is not the person I would have hoped for on this book but I will have to stick it out through the story arc. The speech bubble placement was also pretty off-putting in certain panels taking me out of the story wondering who is saying the dialogue.

Despite this being a new story arc, if you were a new reader jumping into this story you would be lost as to who and what everything is and was throughout this issue. I have to say this was an issue I have mixed feelings about but we will see how the story arc turns out in time as I feel the book might improve drastically in the following issues. If I were to rate this issue and recommend it, I would not recommend it as a jumping on point and I would have to give this issue a 6/10.

~ T.J Head

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