Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly review roundup. This week, we take a look at new releases from Image and Valiant. And since we missed last week, we’ll throw in one of those titles too.
Ninjak #25 (Valiant Entertainment)
(W) Matt Kindt (A) Steven Segovia (C) Ulises Arreola
Valiant has had a pretty good track record since its relaunch with very few stories, let alone single issues, that are considered objectively “bad” by fans and critics alike (*cough* Dead Drop *cough*).Unfortunately, Ninjak #25 joins that rare company. Decompressed storytelling for the sake of the inevitable collected edition can prove folly, and this is Exhibit A.
Ninjak #25 accomplishes nothing over the course of the issue. It is spent following the Shadow Seven on their journey to confront Master Darque, with them one-by-one being picked off with no emotional impact on the other characters or the reader. These adversaries to Ninjak who had been developed over the course of the series are disposed of as if they are faceless cannon fodder. Matt Kindt stated in an interview (years ago) that Ninjak was his passion project, and that he had a ton of stories to tell. Well, he may have had the ideas, but he has truly dropped the ball executing them since the “Siege of King’s Castle” arc concluded.
At least the art by Segovia and Arreola is good. I mean, it’s really good, especially when you compare it to the script they were given to work with. Throughout “The Seven Blades of Master Darque,” they have delivered nothing but crisp, clean, and kinetic imagery that a book like Ninjak demands. But this time, it can’t salvage a story that is practically non-existent. Perhaps this will read better in a trade, but anyone who dropped $4 for this single issue has my condolences.
The Old Guard #2 (Image Comics)
(W) Greg Rucka (A) Leandro Fernandez (C) Daniella Wiwa
Greg Rucka introduces readers to a couple new characters in this latest issue. Andy’s team grows by one, with an initiation “ceremony” that is as disturbing as it is hilarious. Readers are also introduced to the story’s (or at least the story arc’s) main antagonist. He’s a classic, mustache-twirling villain that will likely be undone by his own hubris and penchant for playing games.
The art from Fernandez and Wiwa is reflective of the black-and-white worldview that Andy and her team share. The experiences they have shared over a multitude of lifetimes results in them not being bogged down by questions and concerns about life. There are no shades of grey. There is no in between. There is either this way, or that. The heavy inking by Fernandez and the use of simple colors by Wiwa reflects this.
It’s Greg Rucka writing. It’s beautiful thanks to Fernandez and Wiwa’s art. It’s good.
Bonus From Last Week:
Magdalena #1 (Image Comics)
(W) Trini Howard and Ryan Cady (A) Christian Dibari (C) Mike Spicer
For longtime fans of the Top Cow Universe, Magdalena #1 is a welcome addition to their pull lists. But does it satisfy those who are unfamiliar with the character’s long history and are picking this up on a whim? Yes. Yes it does.
Following Patience, the current Magdalena, and her presumed successor, Maya, the story features wonderfully horrific artwork by Christian Dibari and Mike Spicer. There is a raw energy to their craft that sets it apart from nearly everything in the Top Cow Universe. I can’t say for certain, but it appears that Dibari does some ink-washing throughout, which when combined with Spicer’s colors gives the book painted aesthetic, yet the linework is still conducive to fast-paced action.
There are questions to be asked about the connection between Patience and Maya, given the nature of the Magdalena mantle. However, the creative team of Howard, Cady, Dibari, and Spicer provide a quality story with enough intrigue to bring people back more.