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Ninjak #22

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By Matt Kindt, CAFU (Carlos Alberto Fernández Urbano), and Ulises Arreola

“♫ Fools, said I, you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence ♫”

― Paul Simon, The Sound of Silence (1964)

Written and penciled by Larry Hama, “Silent Interlude” was released in the pages of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #21. The issue is considered by many readers and collectors as one of the absolute best issues of the series as well as one of the most iconic issues of the 1980’s. The story introduced readers to not only the love connection between Scarlet and Snake-Eyes, but also to Stormshadow and the (at the time) mysterious connection that they shared. This was the starting point for some of the most memorable and significant stories that were told in that series, and continue to be told today.

In many ways, Valiant Entertainment’s Ninjak #22 can be compared to G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #21 (the story features only seven spoken words and is 99% silent). Instead, series writer Matt Kindt lets Spanish artist Carlos Alberto Fernández Urbano (CAFU) and colorist Ulises Arreola tell this story cover to cover. While very few words are spoken, Kindt’s concept and focus is apparent, and the story itself does a fantastic job connecting the reveal at the end of Ninjak #21 with the events of the upcoming story arc “The Seven Blades of Master Darque” set to commence next month in Ninjak #23.

Artist CAFU is (as always) the perfect choice for this type of story. His raw, uncolored artwork is truly a sight to see, as he has mastered a classic and professional comic art house-style that features clean, sharp lines with layered greytones which create a life-like texture and appearance on each panel and page. One area that CAFU excels at is the depiction of movement and motion of character, as well as metallic surfaces and inorganic materials. CAFU’s work (on this title, and most notably on his recent work on Rai) are of enough quality that it could honestly be enjoyed in its raw, uncolored form. CAFU is an artist that Valiant would do well to retain as long as possible, and feed endless work. He is a true talent.

Colorist Arreola has a lot to work with (in no small part due to CAFU’s clean and well-defined lines). Page #18 demonstrates the complete chaos and bloodlust of battle, and Arreola’s color palette could easily be compared to many of Frank Miller’s 300 panels depicting the Persian army vs the King Leonidas and his brave 300 Spartans. The color and glow appropriate for a battle under the setting sun, literally shown on pages #20 and #22 with an effective use of silhouettes with color. The character rising from the flames on bottom panel of the last page, however, is where the pairing of CAFU and Arreola is at its very best, with perfect rendering of smoke ember with the evil glow of the dark arts.

Ninjak #22 does not attempt to tackle geopolitical events or teach readers about philosophy; it is a visually stunning ass-kicking ninja bloodbath written in silence. It is a fast, and completely enjoyable read.

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