Ninjak vol. 2 #1
Acclaim Comics/Valiant Heroes (March, 1997)“I Call On The Power Of Ninjak!” WRITER: Kurt Busiek PENCILER: Neil Vokes INKER: Mike Avon Deming COLORING: Atomic Paintbrush LETTERER: Dave Lanphear ASSISTANT EDITOR: Jeof Vita EDITOR: Jeff Gomez
In this version, Ninjak is a popular video game character in the game of the same name, and young Denny Mecham is one of his biggest fans. Denny’s an average kid whose home life is messed up with his oldest sister getting married and the next sister in line trying to make him “normal” by her standards. When he solves a puzzle in the game that nobody’s figured out yet, he gets zapped through his friend Town’s monitor. While the computer is fine, Denny soon learns that by using the opening and closing catch phrases of the game he can now transform INTO Ninjak! Sensing his power, a strange pair of glowing bug eyes grants a fired construction worker the power to become Brutakon, one of the boss enemies of the game called the Dark Dozen. And when Denny/Ninjak is able to defeat him the eyes reach out to more people.
What they got right:: I really like this story of a teen who gets to turn into his favorite video game character Captain Marvel style (the original Billy Batson one, for the record). Denny and Town are supposed to represent typical gamer nerds who are also into Godzilla (as any smart person is) but we’ll have to see if it drifts into Big Bang Theory depictions before the series is through.
What they got wrong: Fans of the original Ninjak series were probably confused by this total change from the original concept. In the original and current Valiant stories, Ninjak is government assassin Colin King. Now he’s some post-puberty kid who turns into a video game character. I don’t know to what degree Acclaim changed the concept versus Busiek because I wasn’t there at the meetings. I know other Valiant heroes got a lot of makeovers to reach a new all-ages game playing market (X-O Manowar underwent some similar alterations as we’ll see later on when Ninjak crosses over to that comic) but while I prefer this take I can fully understand the original fans being pissed at this huge a change from the character they loved to a namesake in a similar costume.
Recommendation: If you’re a fan of Mr. King, you may not like this comic. Or maybe you will, I don’t know. But it the concept at all interested you, give this issue a look.