Reviews

Review – Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe #1 (Valiant Comics)

Ninjak vs the Valiant Universe #1 Photo Cover
Ninjak vs the Valiant Universe #1 Photo Cover

Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe #1

Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe #1 is meant to be a bridge in what turns out to be a very ambitious project from Valiant Entertainment. Valiant is producing a web series by the same name, to introduce their characters to the world at large. Coming soon to a website near you, this live-action version of the Valiant characters is designed to hook new Valiant viewers, much like the Marvel and DC shows and movies, but without quite the budget that those two companies have. 

Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe #1 cover by Mico Suayan
Ninjak vs the Valiant Universe #1 cover by Mico Suayan

The ultimate goal, I would imagine, is to also gain brand-new Valiant readers. To do that, Valiant has produced a new comic series with the purpose of filling in any gaps that might have been left by the web series and getting these viewers in the habit of now reading about the characters they were just watching. This project is perfect for someone like me, who has only read a few Quantum and Woody or Archer and Armstrong issues. I am a virtual newbie to the Valiant Universe. So I was pretty excited to dive right into this book and give it a try.

Introducing Valiant to the Uninitiated

With this concept in mind, the premise should grab new users while still holding the attention of long-time readers. Unfortunately, this is where Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe #1 falls apart. In the world of decompression that we live in, I have to give credit to Eliot Rahal for jumping right into the action. In other comics, it might have taken a good two issues before Ninjak was pitted against the world, but not here. About halfway through the first issue, we have the lead character going up against MI6 and other meta-humans (I am honestly not sure what they are called in the Valiant universe). Again, kudos to the writer for this.

Unfortunately, none of the dialogue is all that compelling. None of the characters come across as interesting, and the plot was incredibly thin and stale. Who is Ninjak? Who are any of these characters and why on earth should I care about the circumstances that have befallen them? By the end of this issue, I had no real clue who they were or why I should care about any of them.

The Valiant Universe Looks Pretty

I have been impressed with artist Joe Bennett since I noticed his work on the DC Comics series 52. His artwork here is the saving grace of Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe #1. The characters look great, the action is fluid and dynamic, and the energy pops off the page. This might sound silly, but in movies, I always notice when a character holds a firearm incorrectly. It bugs me to no end. Imagine my surprise when I notice that the characters in this book hold their weapons correctly. In one panel, we have someone with their hand cupping the other hand with a finger on the trigger. Another character has the same hand cupping but with their finger placed to the side of the trigger, not on it. These are real-world techniques and I appreciate that attention to detail so much. Thank you Joe and team!

Overall

I truly wanted to enjoy this book. Various friends have tried to get me to start reading Valiant books over the years. I thought this would be the perfect place to start. The attention to detail with the artwork helped elevate this book from what it could have been. Instead of writing it off completely, I may come back for a second month to see how that artwork progresses. In the meantime, I am left with a book full of characters I just don’t care for, in a story I just don’t care for, in a universe I was really hoping to like. I might not be chomping at the bit for the next issue in this series. But I have to admit, I am kind of looking forward to the live action version of this. It might not have been what they had in mind when creating Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe. But hopefully it turns out to be a pleasant surprise.


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About the author

Michael Adams

Michael has been collecting comics since his grandmother gave him copies of Peter Parker: Spectacular Spider-Man #124 and Huggabunch #4 at the age of 5. While he is a DC fanboy, Spider-Man 2099 is one of his favorite characters. Issue #1 of that 1992 series is his Achilles's heel, buying pretty much every copy he finds. He got the chance to live the dream in the last several years, working at a comic book shop on the weekends before that store closed. He now tours the conventions around where he lives, selling comics to attendees. Like every true comic fan, his "to read" pile of single issues stands at 3 short boxes and at least two full bookshelves of trades. He'll get to them one day. Right?

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