Bento Review: Ninjak: Weaponeer

NINJAK_001_COVER-A_LAROSA1

Comic Bento’s latest box came with the theme of “powerless,” or when people with little or no power take on the powerful.  I was surprised to find there were no Marvel trades this time around, but the selection I did get looks very promising.

So, let’s start with the first, namely Ninjak:  Weaponeer, the first volume in the latest series featuring the Valiant character of Ninjak.  I really dug Valiant’s Rai; would I feel the same about this one?

Well, not quite.  I could’t tell you why, but Ninjak didn’t grab me the same way Rai did.  Hey, they both use swords!  What’s not to dig?

Ninjak is the code name given to one Colin King, the world’s foremost ninja spy.  Colin had a rough childhood of neglect by his wealthy parents and physical abuse at the hands of a servant left behind to take care of him.  The guy has issues.

That’s actually one of the cooler aspects of the book.  Each chapter/issue opens with a diagram of some of Ninjak’s equipment (with one exception) and the description has more to do with King’s personal hang-ups.

The exception was chapter/issue 4 which details the backstory for Roku, Ninjak’s primary opponent in many ways.  Roku is a mystery woman with long, razor sharp hair.  Nobody knows much of anything about her aside from the fact she is damn near indestructible.  In her backstory, we learn she underwent some sort of mystical ritual that left her with next to no memory of her life before the ritual, and that she has complete control over every cell in her body.  That’s actually fairly awesome, and that would be the one thing that really grabbed me about the main story.

The main story itself seemed to be a rather by-the-numbers infiltration.  King is sent by his superiors in British Intelligence to infiltrate and take over an underground weapons  manufacturer and take out the seven mysterious people who run it.  The first was a semi-public figure.  The remaining six are still a mystery, though a back-up story offers some clues.  Roku works for them, though she seems to think there is something familiar about Ninjak.

The back-up stories are another treat.  Aside from the villain flashback, they detail King’s first missions and the disaster that occurred with his first handler.  Those have the added benefit of being beautifully illustrated by veteran artist Butch Guice.

Matt Kindt, whose work I really dug on Rai, has a good start here, but nothing that really grabbed me like the other series did.  The back-ups and the villains made for interesting reading, but there wasn’t enough from the hero, awful childhood notwithstanding, to make me want to jump into more anytime soon.  I’m giving this seven and a half ape waiters out of ten.

NEXT BOOK:  One of my favorite comic writers, Greg Rucka, is up next with a mystery involving his Stumptown work.  It’s a nice-looking hardback published by Oni.  Looks good!

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