By Matt Kindt, Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Winn, and Allen Passalaqua
The latest offering from Valiant Entertainment’s miniseries that tells of the demise of heroes focuses on Ninjak, a spy, assassin, and current member of Unity. It’s an excellent read and a must for fans of Unity, Ninjak, and Rai.
Ninjak is a complex character. Born into wealth yet suffering great neglect and abuse, he embraced a life of espionage and violence, relying on both his extraordinary fighting skills as well as his advanced technology. His willingness to kill, his brashness and superior attitude, and struggle to follow rather than lead often find him at odds with his Unity teammates. While nothing in this description makes him sound heroic, and despite his sometimes questionable motives, at his core Ninjak is a good man with his own moral compass.
Writer Matt Kindt, who also helms the Ninjak title, has written a poignant tale. He turns a sometimes antagonistic and aggravating character into a dedicated, thoughtful man. The story is a page-turner, both when the action is high and when Ninjak is recounting past memories. Some familiar faces are found amidst these stories with plenty of shocks along the way to keep readers immersed.
The book leaps ahead 100 years from the present. Ninjak is a mortal man, and this plays into the storyline. The fates of his Unity team members are revealed throughout the narrative, although Kindt leaves readers with more possibilities than definitive answers. Fans of his Rai series will find this book particularly enlightening. Kindt sows seeds that bloom into the world of Japan 4001.
One of the great draws of the “Fall of” series is learning tidbits about potential future Valiant Universe events and understanding the circumstances surrounding a character’s death. The stories thus far have been grand character exposé, giving readers a deeper look into the nature of the characters. Perhaps one of the most enjoyable aspects is seeing how lone wolf operative Ninjak evolves into a true team player, creating significant relationships and serving a larger community. His dedication and moral stance make his sacrifice even more heart-rending. The story is simultaneously intriguing and melancholic. Readers will notice that there is no such thing as a happy ending in the Valiant Universe. By choosing to serve the larger arena of the world and beyond, Valiant heroes sacrifice that which they strive to protect for the rest of us: normal lives.
Fall of Ninjak is illustrated by Trevor Hairsine with inks by Ryan Winn, who worked together with great success on Divinity. Hairsine’s style is a good fit for this book. His work is both detailed and gritty, lending realism to the bleak future of Ninjak and his contemporaries. He also uses eyes to great advantage. Some of the character’s expressions, especially their eyes, speak volumes to the reader. Colorist Allen Passalaqua effectively covers a range of settings. Most noticeable is Ninjak’s signature purple, which gains in usage as the plot’s confrontation escalates. Then it disappears, just as Ninjak the man did, subtly reinforcing our loss.
The Book of Death: Fall of Ninjak is a paradox: in his fall, Ninjak elevates himself into a far greater man. Thoughtfully developed, this book does for Ninjak what none of his other tales have yet done for him: made him completely admirable and likeable. This story is a must-read, especially for fans of the larger Valiant Universe.