Grumpy Old Men
Bear with me for a brief comic related story. I think I discovered what could possibly be one of the worst fears of any comic reading individual this week. Let’s say there is an issue you like to read and follow, Ninjak for example, but for whatever reason, it slips your mind to the point you forget to pick it up that month. By the time you finally come to the realization you’re a giant dummy, it’s too late. You just figure you’ll get back on track next issue, no problemo. However, when you finally get your hands on your long lost friend, you find out it resembles something you don’t recognize at all. Like walking into a parking lot and finding the same car, with the same interior, but your key doesn’t work. God damnit, that’s frightening and it happened to me reading this book. Well needless to say, I sucked it up and did my best to eat up whatever Mr. Kindt and Valiant was putting down for me. So, let’s dig in and hope it tastes better than the blood kisses Roku was serving Ninjak last time I tuned in (issue 17 for those keeping score at home).
We start off this issue in part two of the "Fist and the Steel" arc. An older Ninjak (the part that made my brain loopy) and the Eternal Warrior are continuing on in a future (starting to get it) where they’re in hot pursuit of a bad dude. This bad dude, named Fakir, has escaped through a portal of some sort with our heroes hot on his tail. Like any “good” portal would, it transports everyone to Las Vegas, Nevada leaving these two strangely dressed old geezers with sharp objects as out of place as Jim in an actual Comic Book Store.
From here, Ninjak and Eternal Warrior decide to check into a nearby hotel and formulate a plan, parade around in towels, and sharpen weapons while they wait for a change of clothes to be delivered.. After freshening up, the two heroes head out for a night on the town back in pursuit of leads to Fakir or maybe possibly hookers … I mean this is Vegas after all baby!!!
Following a real estate lead, the two heroes are directed into a “biker bar”. Once inside, nobody there looks too happy they’ve been graced with the presence of Ninjak and company. This leads to a Roadhouse-esque bar fight and I imagine Ninjak would fill the Patrick Swayze role pretty nicely … just with, you know, a sword instead of fists and pure American muscle. Eventually, the broken bones and chopped limbs lead to pissed pants and progress as our two heroes head off on lead number two.
This time deep in the depths of the Nevada desert, Ninjak and Eternal Warrior finally find Fakir up to no good. Fakir, I feel safe saying, is a strange looking fellow. Think Goro from Mortal Kombat on a no carb diet with a couple of hard-ons for weapons. Not someone you really want to be chasing through portals at an old age. At a time when our heroes look to be able and gain the upper hand the twists start coming fast and furious which leads to our cliffhanger. It seems Fakir isn’t the end game after all and there are mystical forces at play here from Ninjak's past ... but to find out what those are is what Wednesdays are for folks.
Matt Kindt does a superb job of putting Ninjak in different situations to keep the title fresh. You never know where this book will go, what age, time, or part of the story you’ll find Ninjak in, and I love not having expectations or knowing what’s ever coming next. The art team of Khari Evans and Ulises Arreola draw some excellent looking fight scenes, with clean panel layouts, and bright colors. You can be sure you're never looking at a dull page in this book. The addition of Eternal Warrior adds another character in the Valiant stable that I find myself caring more and more about too. Now that's a good plan going forward indeed!
Bits and Pieces:
I love me some Ninjak and issue nineteen is no exception to this rule. Despite my initial shock of reading about Grandpa Ninjak, the catch up page and some good writing helped bridge the gap for what I missed and I was off and running in no time. We also get a backup story, as usual, which ties the future into the present in a very clever way. It’s an excellent touch the team uses to keep all moving parts knit together well. I continue to like where this series is going and can’t wait to see how this arc impacts Ninjak in both timelines moving forward.