“Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception…”
― Carl Sagan
Fresh off the heels of Operation: Deadside (see Ninjak #10, #11, #12, and #13) writer Matt Kindt provides readers in Ninjak #14 the beginning of what is clearly a strong Ninjak story that is based within the context of a world the character should and would operate in. Part 1 of “The Siege of King’s Castle” story arc, Ninjak #14 strips its hero down to bare metal, and provides a close look at the man behind the mask and the skills that make him a capable weapon. As it has been said, “it is the man that makes the man” and not the weapons or costume that he or she might wear. It is the mind and body connection, the years of practice, and the awareness of one’s own physical/psychological limitations and what is human possible that can truly make a man a dangerous. However, what grounds “The Siege of King’s Castle” story with a sense of believable reality, is that his opponent is every bit as capable, if not more. So often, antagonists are written as threats that only serve as filler until the hero inevitably defeats them. The threat is not legit, and the reader is left unimpressed. This is not the case with Ninjak #14, as the antagonist is not even seen in the story; yet their presence and menace is quite real and apparent.
Ninjak #14 is two stories, both written by Kindt, but illustrated by two separate creative teams:
“The Four Noble Truths” is the first part of “The Siege of King’s Castle” story arc. The creative team of artist Diego Bernard with colorists Ulises Arreola and Pete Pantazis resulted in a visually appealing book that even the most discriminating Valiant fan will enjoy. Page after page it becomes quite clear that Bernard took his time to craft each panel to its intended effect. With Ninjak out of costume most of the book, Bernard cannot simply draw a blank-faced costumed hero, but instead must capture Colin King (aka Ninjak‘s) emotion and movement in such a way that readers have seldom seen in recent issues. Bernard’s work really shines with his mastery of motion to capture the moment of each scene, and provides the background and elemental structure for both weather conditions and lighting that allows Arreola and Pantazis to bring each page to live in realistic colors that do not overwhelm at all, but visually add to Bernard’s pencils and inks.
“The Lost Files” is not directly related to “The Siege of King’s Castle” story arc; however, it is directly related to the history and mythos of Ninjak. This (flashback) story is illustrated by the creative team of artist Khoi Pham, with colorist Andrew Dalhouse, as well as Eisner Award-nominated colorist Jeromy Cox. Visually speaking, “The Lost Files” appears quite different from “The Four Noble Truths“, though by no means is it of a lesser quality. Pham’s line are well-defined and crisp, with a nearly surgical precision. Shading is minimal and only as required for each panel. When backgrounds are present, the fit the mood and scene well, and when they are not present, it is so that the focus is on the characters and events in that moment. It is an example of less being more, and with a visually appealing style that works well with this story. Pham’s lines provide Dalhouse and Cox a lot of space and freedom for their work, which they make good use of. As events of this story occur in various location and at different times, Dalhouse and Cox add a color tint to certain panels to differentiate them as such for easy reading. Never do the colors overwhelm the reader, rather they add a visually appealing touch to a professionally solid product.
Ninjak #14 is the perfect starting point for new readers to jump into the world of Ninjak while telling a story that longtime readers and fans will no doubt enjoy.