By Matt Kindt, Diego Bernard, Alisson Rodrigues, Ulises Arreola, Andres Guinaldo, Brian Level, Chris Sotomayor, and Dave Sharpe.
““An angry woman is vindictive beyond all measure, and hesitates at nothing in her bitterness…”
― John Petit-Senn
Writer Matt Kindt‘s “Siege of King’s Castle” story arc that has taken place on the pages of Ninjak #14 and #15 has proven to be a quality tale that strips it’s hero down to bare-metal and pulls zero punches in the process. Since first appearing in the pages of 1993’s Bloodshot #6 and #7, Ninjak has been a highly popular and successful intellectual property for Valiant Entertainment (in addition to an Acclaim Entertainment run from 1997 to 1998). Promoted as a combination of Batman and James Bond, Ninjak has enough money, gadgets, and foresight to handle most situations with ease. While possessing no special powers, his mental, spiritual, and physical training have placed him amongst the finest of humanity, and supported by his innovative and resourceful use of technology to enhance his skills and abilities, he has taken down super-beings, faced off against gods, and lived to tell the story. However, Kindt’s “Siege of King’s Castle” story arc removes all this, and leaves Ninjak with only himself and his abilities against an enemy every bit as well trained and formable as himself. As it is said that a man is not judged by what he can accomplish at his best, but rather at his worst. This is a story that serves a number of functions. First, it expands what we know of Ninjak’s limits and his weaknesses. Second, it tells a prequel origin story with “The Lost Files” that expands what we know of Ninjak’s history. Lastly, it continues to make good on the promise made in Ninjak #1 where that Roku is “…in every way either your (referring to Ninjak of course) equal or your superior…” and a total bad ass.
While pencils are again provided by Diego Bernard (who has provided some high quality art on this story), this issue is joined by Inker Alisson Rodrigues (who has worked on Darkness and Witchblade for Top Cow, as well as X-O Manowar for Valiant Entertainment). Alisson’s work often has a retro 1990’s look to it (which is awesome in every way that sounds), but here matches Bernards style to make a seamless artistic transition from the previous team to the present team which speaks volumes about her professionalism. Colorist Ulises Arreola continues to impress, with multi-layered colors that create a three dimensional effect for landscapes and characters.
The second half of Ninjak #16 is the prequel origin story “The Lost Files” which is this time handled by Spanish artist Andres Guinaldo (pencils) and Brian Level (inks), with colorist Chris Sotomayor once again. Guinaldo and Level match well together to create a story with moments of sharp, gritty, violent action that is rendered quite well. It should be noted that Guinaldo is really knocking it out of the park right now with Valiant, and has most recently generated character designs for Generation Zero, Rai, and War Mother; in addition to the first cover images of Britannia. Sotomayor’s colors do seem a bit confused at times, as some panels are colored to provide a life-like and layered three dimensional appearance, while other panels (sometimes the same panel) have a flat and two dimensional appearance. Both styles are quality; however, do not blend together as well as they might have been intended to have blended. A minor criticism, to an otherwise well written and illustrated story that is quite engaging and intriguing.
Ninjak #16 is part of a well conceived and executed story concept that is both entertaining and enjoyable.