Character Spotlight: Ninjak

by Jason Laframboise on May 30, 2017

It was 1994. I'd picked up an issue of Wizard Magazine and like always I flipped through the pages to find out all the latest Valiant comics news, because in my small home town of Fenelon Falls Ontario we didn't have a big selection. One of the books being discussed was Ninjak. I loved the art right away, and the concept sounded so freaking cool! A ninja spy! How could this lose? Well then I picked up a random issue a couple years later and I hated it. It was the first time I really hated something Valiant put out, the art was good enough. The issue was drawn by Joe Quesada, I thought decent enough artist, but probably won't amount to much........ anyway. Flash forward to the second arc of the new X-O Manowar and it features the New Valiant first appearance of Ninjak. It was here that my love for the character started, and by the time I finished reading the Matt Kindt penned Ninjak solo series he had gone from a 90s oddity to one of my favourite characters of all time.  I'm going to focus mostly on the newer series, because I am much more familiar with it. I am slowly working my way though the older series, and I've recommended some issues below as these are the ones I've gone through.

In the new series Colin King is still Ninjak. He is still a spy, but in modern days he is more of a spy for hire, almost a solider of fortune. 
King's parents were wealthy spies that constantly leaving the young Ninjak at home with their butler, Alain who ends up abusing the boy. Young King frequently sneaks out and goes to watch a samurai movie. At one point the future Ninjak basically tries to kill the Alain with a toy car that he rigged to explode. This let's the young boy run away from the family castle into the woods around it where he lives for a few weeks. He is prompted back to the house when he finally sees that his parents are back, but they seem unconcerned that their child was missing and the only person that was worried about him was Alain. Colin eventually finds his way into his parents safe room where he finds their cache of weapons, and young Colin beings to suspect that maybe his parents aren't just going on trips.

Eventually teenage Colin King confronts his mother about his abusive surrogate parent. It's then that a world weary Mrs. King let's Colin in on their family secret, that his mother slept with Alain during a mission and became pregnant. Alain followers the Kings back to London and threatens to blow their cover unless he can stay with them and watch his son grow up. Colin is shocked by this lie he has been told and leaves home to make his own way in the world. We are then treated to seeing Ninjak's early first missions as a spy, along with his handler Angelina Alcott. King is supposed to assassinate a target but loses his nerve when he sees that his prey is a woman. Angelina is later murdered by the same person that King was supposed to kill.  The preceding information was from the Lost Files back up features.

When we first encounter Ninjak in the proper Valiant Universe he was sent by the then head of Mi6 to take down the ancient Visigoth warrior who was unleashed upon the world with his X-O manowar armour, Aric of Dacia. Although the two come to blows eventually they come to realize they have a common enemy, as the alien race the Vine have begun an invasion of Earth, and their half human half vine sleeper agents are in all facets of human society. Ninjak and X-O manowar eventually team up to start taking down the Vine and clearing them out of Mi6. This leads to Ninjak getting a new Mi6 handler, and his main supporting cast member Neville Alcott
Following the events of his encounter with Aric, Ninjak joins a team created by the psiot Toya Harada to take down Aric when he declares modern day Romania to be his new Visigoth kingdom. With Harada, Gilad the Eternal Warrior and the psiot Livewire, Ninjak forms the Unity Team. When the rest of the team realizes that Harada simply wants to have the X-O armour for himself they eventually turn on him. The team continues together and Ninjak finds himself with close allies in Livewire and Gilad. It's also during his time with Unity that Ninjak encounters his old school Valiant villain Dr. Silk, who unfortunately
doesn't factor into the Ninjak series.

Ninjak's solo series begins with a disguised Colin King infiltrating the Weaponeer organization to take over as it's CEO. Ninjak meets with the woman who will become a central character in the book, Roku who appears as a body guard for Kannon who is the current leader of Weaponeer. Roku and Kannon eventually expose Colin King as Ninjak, and they do battle with Ninjak coming out victorious. Ninjak seems to feel there is something familiar about his two adversaries but he cannot seem to put his finger on it. Kannon is taken into custody(in pieces) but Roku escapes to warn the rest of the foundation of Weaponeer, the so called Shadow Seven. During the issue featuring Roku's origin we are shown that the source of her power is the evil and mysterious Master Darque.

Ninjak then begins his Shadow War, his efforts to take out the remaining members of the Shadow Seven. Ninjak has been told he cannot kill any of the shadow seven as one of them has a dead man switch attached to a nuclear bomb. He first starts with La Barbe, who is extremely wealthy and has sunk a lot of his money into gadgets, cloaking devices, holographic projections and the such. La Barbe is able to hack into all of Ninjak's gear leaving him to fight the old fashioned way. Before he is knocked out La Barbe mentions that they are bonded together by the Undead Monk. One by One Ninjak takes out the shadow seven, Sanguine who doesn't feel pain and has had her internal organs moved around and has had  other surgical enhancements made to her body, such as her teeth and finger nails that are now talons. Next up was Fitzy who was one of a group of clones created by the evil Dr. Silk. Fitzy is one of the only members of the shadow seven who seems to be on the good side, however Ninjak still takes him in. The last member to fall is Fakir, who is the member of the seven that has the dead man's switch. Fakir is using the Undead Monk to implement the switch, so Ninjak stabs the monk seemingly killing him. We learn at the end of the story that The undead monk is why Ninjak is unable to remember his ties to the shadow seven.

After defeating the shadow seven, Ninjak is sent to the Dead Side to retrieve Fakir when he is kidnapped by a Dead Side creature named Ember. He teams up with the mystic Punk Mambo, who had been on a previous operation to the Dead Side where a military team was lost. They fight Ember and his master, Magpie who turns out to be the long lost Jack Boniface aka Shadowman. Punk Mambo defeat Boniface and bring him back to the living world.

Following his adventure in the Dead Side, Ninjak comes home to finally rest and relax, but just as he's getting time off his castle home is destroyed, along with all of his equipment. His bank accounts are emptied. His identity is compromised and he has had Mi-6 turn against him. It turns out that the person behind the attack was Roku, who we learn now was the woman he loved once Angelina. Roku in her mad plan for vengeance again Colin King had kidnapped and killed his mother and the man he grew up thinking was his father. Alain is also kidnapped and he helps his son escape, but dies. Roku goes to confront the last person who's key to her anger, Master Darque,who following his defeat during the book of the dead series has been turned into a tree. 

During his mission to the Dead Side Ninjak contracted a paranormal pathogen in his brain. To fix this problem Ninjak's consciousness travels to the future, where coincidentally his future self is helping the future Eternal Warrior fight the evil Dr. Silk and this leads them to the dead side. Ninjak is able to use the Deadside Intelligence Mechanism, which Silk was trying to use to gain all of the available knowledge, to cure the parasite that he contracted.

In the series finale-The Seven  the Shadow Seven are recruited by the sister of Sister of Master Darque, Sandria, to kill her brother. Ninjak's ties to the Shadow Seven are finally revealed-- He isn't just hunting them he was one of them! Master Darque is free from his forest prison, and it comes down to Roku and Ninjak to stop him. Unknown to Ninjak Roku had made a deal with Darque to finally end her life, and in return she had to turn over the other members of the Shadow Seven, Ninjak included, so he can steal their power the Undead Monk had imbued them with. Roku defeated Ninjak and Darque pulls the nail that gives her her powers, and Roku dies. Ninjak through pure determination fight's his way into the action and is able to use an explosive device to finally "kill" Master Darque. Ninjak isn't able to let go of the woman he loved and puts the nail back into Roku/Angelina's neck reviving her. Roku swears that she will never forgive him for bringing her back and Ninjak lets her go.

90's Valiant Era 
Valiant Masters: Ninjak Volume 1- Black Water .this book collects the first 6 issues of the first Ninjak series, and the two origin issues 0, and 00. If you want to see the early version of the character and see some early art from Joe Quesada then pick it up. Don't expect great things from this, but it's a fun piece of history. I mean come on this was Wizards top book in there hot books list! 
Recommended for the art and if you are 

Acclaim Era
N/A. Sorry fans of these stories. I've not read any of these, the concept sounds fun enough involving a sort of video game shazam, but I've none of them. Plus my experience with Acclaim books has been.....well....avoid Acclaim books not titled Quantum and Woody. 

X-O Manowar Vol. 2 Enter Ninjak.
So we have to begin our modern day with a stop off not in Ninjak's own series but in X-O Manowar. Ninjak is sent to bring down X-O Manowar, but instead stumbles into an alien invasion plot. He forms a strong alliance with X-O and helps take down the Vine plantlings throughout the world.

Ninjak Vol. 1: Weaponeer
In the opening arc we start off by meeting the single most important character not named Ninjak, Roku the deadly member of the shadow seven, who also has a mysterious connection to Ninjak's past. The art is great, and if you are a fan of spy stories this is a great read.
Highly Recommended!

Ninjak Vol. 4: The Siege of King's Castle
A story that strips Ninjak down to basics and ties up a lot of the story points explored in the previous issues. A lot of Great action and great art. This is a high point of a series of high points. The final reveal of who Roku is or was makes this a must have.
Highly Recommended!

Ninjak Vol. 6: The Seven Blades of Master Darque
The end of the line for Matt Kindt in this volume. All of the plot point seeds that Kindt planted in the first issue, grow into their final stages. We get a final battle between Roku,  and the reveal of what Colin King's tie to the Shadow Seven really is. Any time we get Master Darque as the villain it's a good read. Maybe my favourite books of the series. 
Highly Recommended!!