During a report with a superior, Ninja-K is ambushed by the villainess Roku. She has taken the family of K's handler and friend, Neville. Roku will kill them unless Ninja-K steals an item from MI-6 for her. Ninja-K agrees, and this leads to a conflict with his friends and allies.
A big crossover event for Valiant that involves Ninja-K going toe-to-toe with most of their catalogue is inherently pretty awesome. Ninja-K is a great James Bond-esque ninja, and seeing him take on the likes of Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, Livewire, and the others should be pretty awesome.
Ninja-K vs. Valiant is certainly respectable in that it cuts to the chase. It doesn't waste time. Boom, here's the premise and conceit. Boom, here is Ninja-K picking fights with the rest of MI-6 and others in Valiant's character catalogue.
The premise is almost too simple, really. The comic makes it seem like it really wasn't that hard to just take Neville's family and blackmail Ninja-K. Roku is powerful and significant foe of Ninja-K, but this seemed like something of a cakewalk. Perhaps later issues will expand on how she and her accessed all this so easily.
The dialogue is by far the weakest part of this issue, though. There are some astoundingly bad lines in this comic. Much of Roku's dialogue is stereotypical villain speak. It's nothing you've not seen a lot before, and it doesn't denote her beyond "she's the bad guy."
Ninja-K gets some discount James Bond lines that only make him look a bit smug.
This isn't all of the dialogue, though. Some of it works just fine; it only gets bumpy whenever a character is supposed to be expressing personality (which is still an important thing, mind you). The expository dialogue is fine. It's not too lengthy or technical.
Conversely, the art is excellent. Joe Bennett does some excellent work here, and you're immediately reminded why he has the good reputation he possesses. Belardino Brabo collaborates with him well. Ulises Arreola provides some excellent color art to boot. The fight scenes look especially good. They're visceral, satisfying, and sequenced well. The entire comic looks very good.
Ninja-K vs the Valiant Universe #1 is a shaky start for the story. It gets straight to what you want to see, but some proper story building feels lost in the process. The dialogue is very spotty at times, and some lines wander into the realm of groan-worthy. The art is great though, and the action scenes are very well-orchestrated. In the end, the good outweighs the bad, but it's not a landslide victory by any means. I can recommend it to the Valiant fan, but, if you're not familiar with these characters, this one could drive you away pretty quickly.
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