Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Trevor Hairsine
Inker: Ryan Winn
Colorist: Allen Passalaqua
Sometimes I need nothing more than to sit down with a comic, in a universe insulated in comparison to the Batmans and Captain Americas, and sink right into a story standing alone. On top of that, there’s a feeling of closeness to those stories, a sense of the world in the book becoming personal; as you watched it grow to what it has become. That is the case with Book Of Death: The Fall of Ninjak, and, in a greater sense, the Valiant comic universe. While there is a line wide event happening, it still feels personal, and the scope and story is all right there and easy to follow with little baggage. While I was prepared to be happy with this issue, I was still pleasantly surprised by certain aspects.
When it comes to Matt Kindt, there’s a high level of quality associated with his work, and his Valiant work has been nothing short of stellar. After loving The Valiant, which he did with Jeff Lemire, I made sure to pick up all of his Valiant titles, and so far his Ninjak book has become one of my favorites. This event tie in fit into the world he is building around Ninjak in his regular monthly title, which is perfect when it comes to tie ins. The idea for the Book of Death bannered books is that we are seeing the actual last days of the character being highlighted, which I find interesting on it’s own, but this one is filled with little easter eggy goodness. While we see Ninjak as an older warrior, we also see how New Japan came to be, which is very interesting for those of us reading Rai. The story balances the line of looking into Ninjak’s psyche, and his choices in his life on one side, and the relationship to the greater Valiant Universe on the other, as we see Livewire come into play as well as Harada being Harada. Also, we really take a look at the relationship between Ninjak and Gilad (The Eternal Warrior), which at first seemed to be almost foils, but by this point in their lives, more of brothers. The only caveat I have with this story is that I wish this was the cap off for the regular Ninjak series. If that says anything, however, it’s more of a weird continuity personal twitch; the story itself is excellent.
The pleasant surprise came in the Trevor Hairsine art. While I’ve liked his work in the past, the fluidity of his line always got a little muddy to me, which made the facial work take a slight hit. Here, however, he tightened the light just enough to make the panel to panel storytelling clear, but still maintain the loose, free line that he is known for. With that, the inking work on the tighter lines really made the figures pop. Passalaqua’s colors, much like Winn’s inks, worked very well with the line work, having some bright, bold colors contrast the almost gritty story. The contrast achieved more of an attention grabber than a possible distraction, allowing this to be, in my opinion, some of Hairsine’s best work.
If you’re reading any Valiant books, or have been curious, this is a great issue to check out. Even though it’s right in the middle of the Book of Death event, it’s got a lot for new readers to grab onto and dig deeper into Valiant. When all’s said and done, it’s looking like Kindt’s body of work at Valiant may be the best the Publisher has ever seen.
4.5 New Japan’s out of 5