Believe it or not, there are comics out there that aren’t published by Marvel or DC. One publisher is about begin its journey into the world of live action with its superhero characters (and you should be pumped about it). That publisher is Valiant comics, whose line of comics is small but cited critically as some of the best work out there since its triumphant return to the stands in 2012. Thanks to its success, Valiant has quietly inked multiple deals to begin a cinematic universe with its characters, including Harbinger and Bloodshot. However, its first big release is a web series called Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe. In what looks to be an action packed chance to expose fans to a large swath of Valiant characters through the lens of fighting Ninjak, this series has the potential to create a brand new outlet for superhero media; and a very exciting one at that!
Ninjak is a great character for this web series to focus on because he has many facets that fans are familiar with and that have proven successful in the world of comics and movies for years. If you are interested in the character, there is a highly accessible entry point in the most recent Ninjak title by Matt Kindt, which wraps up in September 2017 with a zero issue. But for now, sit back and get a crash course on the star of Valiant’s first live action web series!
15. COLIN KING IS JAMES BOND MIXED WITH BATMAN
Ninjak’s secret identity is that of Colin King, son of a British spy who was left with a great deal of wealth. Colin is also extremely skilled with technology and weapons, and is a master of the use of stealth. These skills all feed into his ability as a ninja, but he is also a good-looking man with a personality that has been formed to not get too emotionally attached to anything.
This makes for a character who has just about every element of what makes people love superheroes and espionage. There’s just enough realism to make you relate to Colin King, but there is also so much ultra-cool stylized action and adventure to give it the edge many crave in their fiction. Much like Bruce Wayne with Batman, there is a sense that Colin King is more comfortable in the mask than he is as a regular person, giving him astounding levels of depth for such an outwardly vapid individual.
14. WORKS FOR MI6
In a large portion of his stories, Ninjak is a contracted agent of British intelligence agency MI6. He often works with Neville Alcott, his senior officer. It is his work with MI6 that leads to many of his adventures and encounters with some of the other heroes of the Valiant universe. MI6 is continuously involved in investigating activities involving super-powered individuals and potentially dangerous paranormal activities.
Neville has also used his role in MI6 to be involved in creating a team of individuals to deal with larger threats. This team was called Unity and Ninjak was one of the charter members. While Ninjak does what he is paid to do, he is also known to be able to separate from their agenda and do his own thing when necessary.
13. DEBUTED IN THE ‘90S
Anybody who grew up in the big comic sales boom of the ‘90s and read Wizard magazine might remember Ninjak as being a hot property during a point in that period. During the early days of Valiant comics, the character debuted in Bloodshot #6 in June of ‘93 and the issue would be a fixture on comic book store walls for the next year or so, prompting the release of the Ninjak solo series, with Joe Quesada art in November of ’93.
The solo title would launch with a chromium cover that would drive speculators of the era wild, thinking they would be able to save the book and have it be worth a ton in the future. The original volume of Ninjak varied in quality, but it was a big seller for a long time and may be many people’s first and only exposure to the character.
12. A MESSED UP CHILDHOOD
In the new volume of Ninjak that launched in March of 2015, Matt Kindt aimed to address the backstory of the character. In fact, the story was told in various periods of time, from Colin’s childhood, to his early MI6 days and in the present. The childhood era for Colin was revealed to be ugly and added a lot of new layers to the character.
Colin’s parents were British spies and almost never at home, leaving him in the care of his butler, Alain, who is revealed to be abusive to Colin. Colin actually makes attempts to kill Alain as kid, and is punished greatly each time. Colin eventually learned that Alain was in fact his biological father and that the man he thought was his dad was just playing the role. This prompted Colin to finally begin his path towards becoming Ninjak and leaving all of that behind.
11. HIS PLACE IN THE VALIANT UNIVERSE
Even though Ninjak is clearly the focus of Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe, the rest of the Valiant universe stand to be revealed as well. In terms of comic book history, there are various characters that have been involved with Ninjak over the years.
The latest incarnation of Ninjak was first brought into the modern Valiant era when he was hired to take down X-O Manowar — Valiant’s heaviest hitter, a sort of mix between Iron Man, Conan and Superman — in “Enter Ninjak,” the second arc of X-O Manowar. Ninjak’s time with the Unity team was the beginning of his somewhat romantic relationship with Livewire, who is currently playing a big role in the Secret Weapons series. Ninjak is also known to have the longstanding respect of Eternal Warrior, as revealed in Book of Death: The Fall of Ninjak and “The Fist and the Steel” arc of Ninjak. It is unclear how much these interactions will resemble what we see on the web series.
10. COOLEST COSTUME IN COMICS
There are many comic readers who started in the ‘90s and while there may not have been astounding quality throughout, there was an edge to things that was fun, albeit absurd at certain points. Ninjas are timelessly cool; they are fun to look at almost by definition, but often portrayed in a standard black costume. Ninjak’s costume has the black, but accents it with purple and gold to create an aesthetic masterpiece.
The costume also features the classic hair coming out of the top of the mask that was so common in the ‘90s, but stands the test of time here. The belt, swords and weapons are not overly gaudy, but sport a stylish and believable gold accent that goes perfectly with the rest of the costume. It looks as though the costume is spot-on for the web series and that the looks of all the characters will be sharp.
9. THE SHOW FEATURES SOME ACTORS WITH COMIC TIES
Fans may or may not recognize Ninjak in his mask as Michael Rowe, a relatively inexperienced actor with one big claim to fame, his role as Deadshot on the CW’s Arrow. The transition from Deadshot to Ninjak seems to make a great deal of sense as they have a lot of common skill sets.
The biggest name on the show may actually go to Jason David Frank, who has a massive fan following for his work as the Green Ranger on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and its many spinoffs. Frank will be playing Bloodshot and if early footage is any indication, it is going to be fun to watch. Others may recognize the Eternal Warrior’s casting as John Hennigan, known to WWE fans as John Morrison. These recognizable cast members should bring some familiarity to the show as it gets its start.
8. THE CREATORS HAVE A STRONG TRACK RECORD
Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe is going to be produced by “Bat In The Sun,” whose co-founder Aaron Schoenke has garnered a lot of attention for his ability to take limited resources and turn them into incredibly high quality features. Much of Schoenke’s early work focused around Batman films such as Batman Beyond: Year One and Dark Justice among others. This pedigree seems to serve the Bat in the Sun team well in terms of creating something with similar elements involving Ninjak.
While fan films are out there in droves, it is clear that this is a major break for the crew to be able to make something with the backing and promotion of Valiant. It will be interesting to see how the web series takes off and what it might lead to for both Valiant and future opportunities for the people at Bat in the Sun.
7. BATTLE WITH ROKU
It has been confirmed that the main villain of the web series will be Roku, the deadly assassin who was introduced early on in Matt Kindt’s run on the character. Her red hair is actually an incredibly deadly weapon as it generates heat, is extremely strong and razor sharp. The hair is actually considered to be psychokinetic in that is has individual strands running to different parts of her brain, allowing each strand to have different possible abilities.
Roku’s backstory is a complex one that is at the heart of the emotional arc of everything Ninjak experiences in the 25 issues that Kindt wrote. It is not clear how much the show will delve into things, but suffice it to say that Roku has demonstrated the ability to rock Ninjak to his core emotionally, physically and even economically. She is the perfect foil to attract attention to the web series.
6. HE IS ACTUALLY “NINJA-K”
The secret history of the Valiant universe actually spans back as far as human history, but in terms of Ninjak, it starts somewhere around World War I when the British and the Japanese collaborated to create the “Ninja Programme.” The first of those was called Ninja-A, the Queen’s “silent weapon of World War I,” and there have been subsequent operatives for each letter of the alphabet.
This would make Colin King the eleventh Ninja in the program, and that means there is a vastly rich history to explore. The comics are turning to that history in the upcoming new series Ninja-K which starts in November and is written by veteran Christos Gage with art by Tomas Giorello, whose art on X-O Manowar of late has been incredible. How much the web series explores this angle is hard to say, but it is a fun fact for future stories.
5. MASTER OF WEAPONS TECHNOLOGY
One of the coolest parts of the recent Ninjak series was that issues in the beginning of the series started with a recap page that focused on a particular piece of tech that Ninjak used or was part of his costume. They were often juxtaposed with a psychological analysis of Colin King to pair with the various technology and weapons he kept on him at all times.
By reading the comic and these recap pages, readers learn that Ninjak carries various poisons of various toxicities, as well as adhesive overwatch mini-cameras in his belt. He keeps sodium amythal as a “truth serum” in his glove, which also has battery-powered joint strengtheners. Parts of his suit serve as an exo-skeleton armor for protection. Of course, you also get throwing stars, swords and incredible martial arts action as well, but the whole package just makes Ninjak that much more awesome.
4. SURVIVED THE LAND OF THE DEAD
Fans of ‘90s Valiant may remember a character called Shadowman, who had his own comic book title and well-received video game. The Deadside is where people go when they die in the Valiant universe. Many vile things “live” there and it has been Shadowman’s job to protect people from it. The only problem was that Shadowman was essentially defeated by his nemesis Master Darque.
What does all this have to do with Ninjak? Well, he has been there on multiple occasions, in both his own title at the behest of MI6 and the recent Rapture miniseries. These stories are focused largely on Shadowman’s potential redemption, but they also serve to give Colin King a real perception shift in terms of science versus mystical elements in the world. Perhaps if there is more Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe to come, this could be an intriguing setting.
3. THE ACCLAIM DAYS
There is a period in Valiant’s history that is largely forgettable, but involves a story that needs to be shared. The video game giant Acclaim bought Valiant comics back in 1994 and rebooted all of the characters, including Ninjak. In one of the more bizarre aspects of this rebooted world, Ninjak was actually a video game within the story, and when a kid named Denny Meechum unlocks a secret code within the game, he becomes Ninjak himself. He then battles the game’s bosses in the series’ 12 issues.
Depending on your perspective, this either sounds really crazy or somewhat cool, but the most astounding thing was that it was written by comic book veteran Kurt Busiek, whose work on books like Marvels, Avengers and Astro City is legendary. For anybody that remembers this, there probably won’t be much similarity to what we see on the web series.
2. CAN MENTALLY FIGHT OFF PAIN AND ILLNESS
Ninjak’s complex history includes time with a group that have essentially become his rogues gallery known as the Shadow Seven. By working with this mystical group, he actually has abilities far beyond those of crazy awesome rich ninja. His mind is an incredibly powerful force that can assist in his healing on multiple levels.
It has been shown to be capable of meditation to the point of speeding up the healing process to the extent of even a broken back. He has also demonstrated the ability to process poisons in his body. One of the most astonishing feats he has performed with his mind was extending his life by controlling the cancer cells in his body, allowing him to live well past 100 years old. In understanding the big picture of Ninjak’s life, you only grow to appreciate the character more and more.
1. DEADLY IN COMBAT
Ninjak does everything you would expect in a highly trained ninja, with mystical abilities on top of all that. However, no matter how much you can imagine, seeing him in action on the pages of a comic has exceeded expectations over and over again. Everything from going toe-to-toe with the insanely powerful X-O Manowar to taking out swarms of agents of a shadowy organization at a time will give action-lovers a huge kick out of Ninjak.
He is known to be able throw multiple shuriken at a time and take out multiple enemies in the process. Ninjak has even been known to be able to dodge bullets without even having to look. Seeing some of this in live action is the reason that Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe was made in the first place. Over the top action seems to be the focus and the amount of characters promised to be involved should make it all the more entertaining.
How psyched are you for Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe? Let us know in the comments!
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