Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Tomas Giorello
Cover A Artist: Trevor Hairsine
Cover B Artist: Lucas Troya
Interlocking Variant: Kenneth Rocafort
Ninjak Icon Variant: Philip Tan
Pre-Order Edition: Tonci Zonjic
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Review by Stacy Dooks
As I’ve mentioned previously, for all their cinematic incarnations and their daydream appeal, to actually be a spy in the real world is likely a very dirty business. Trafficking in secrets and clandestine information might seem romantic when we’re reading a James Bond novel or thrilling to the cinematic exploits of Jason Bourne but to actually live in that world is likely highly unpleasant. Of course, spy comics don’t have to operate within the constraints of the real world (thank God), so we can get everything from the grim and gritty realism of a book like Greg Rucka’s Queen & Country to the go for broke energy and escapism of Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ninja-K #5 falls somewhere between these two polarities, while at the same time creating something wholly unique that is at once escapist and unsettling at the same time.
Following the events of last issue, Colin King (aka Ninja-K) and his predecessor/opponent Ninja-C have called a truce to investigate allegations brought forth by C about the existence of the Acclimation Bureau, a hidden division within MI6 that ensures the agents of the Ninja program have no external attachments outside of MI6. . .by killing every potential connection an agent could have. The pair met with Ninja-G, the only agent to successfully escape the ninja program by faking her own death. After getting confirmation from her that what C’s been alleging is true, Colin agrees to help C storm the Acclimation Bureau to get answers, all the while grappling with the increasing uncertainty about his own background: specifically the death of his parents (agents of MI6 in their own right) and just how much of his choice to become part of the ninja program was really his to begin with. . .
A cursory examination of my previous Ninja-K reviews will show I am fully in the tank for this series. Written with a nice mix of action, intrigue, and gallows humor, Gage has crafted a highly entertaining story that leaves you wanting more exploits of the previous ninja agents while at the same time making you appreciate Colin as the latest in a long line of heroes (full disclosure: I love legacy heroes, and finding out that Ninjak is just one in a long line of previous MI6 operatives and their respective backgrounds is awesome beyond measure). What can I say about Tomas Giorello’s art that hasn’t already been said? I knew he could do fantasy from his amazing work on the Dark Horse Conan series, but his work here leaves that already-impressive art in the dust. His mixture of gritty realism and fantastic elements is thrilling, with a feel in keeping with previous spy comics while providing a contemporary flare that makes the book its own animal. The fight scenes, the quiet moments, and everything in-between, is done with style.
The Verdict: Buy it.
I’ve been banging the drum for a while and I’ll continue to do so: Ninja-K #5 is a comic you need on your to-read list. It’s fun; it’s intriguing; it’s suspenseful; it’s the kind of comic you want in your monthly pull list. Recommended.