LEGO Ninjago: The Challenge Of Samukai!
WRITER: Greg Farshtey
ARTIST: Paul Henrique
COLORIST: Laurie E. Smith
LETTERER: Bryan Senka
EDITOR: Michael Petranek
Samukai the skeleton and the villain Garmadon have a bet that if Samukai can’t defeat the Ninjago ninjas he must surrender the underworld to Garmadon, but if Samukai wins then Garmadon will become his servant. After a quick recap of the TV series story, Samukai first tricks Kai into a cave that gives him the appearance of a skeleton warrior to everyone else, hoping to divide the team. When that fails he traps Kai and Jay in another set of caves and challenges Cole to choose which door is the correct one. Cole is up to that challenge so next he and the others do the trap-setting, handing Samukai another defeat, and unknowingly winning the best for Garmadon. The only thing that saves Samukai from leaving is that he knows Garmadon’s shadow form can’t survive forever in the underworld, and so the status quo is restored.
I get the feeling this is more of a trade collection than Papercutz’s original story. The various events have different titles, more like chapters but each story would stand alone if not for Samukai and Garmadon’s bet, which bookends the story with “part one” and “part two” while the traps and flashback each have their own titles. The comic treats this as an issue #1 despite being a trade, so it’s nice that they included a recap of the plot for the benefit of those who haven’t seen the show. I do like how the artwork resembles LEGO minifigs that would appear in the line, but isn’t following the theatrical idea of kids at play. This is true not just for the first LEGO Movie but The LEGO Batman Movie, despite the story not involving the kid playing. They still maintain the structure of a kid playing. This is more like a story taking place in a LEGO world.
However, and not having seen the show I don’t know if this is true for Ninjago: Masters Of Spinjitsu, it doesn’t really take advantage of the LEGO concept like other LEGO productions on TV, in video games or home video. Not being a parody but just a comedy I guess they didn’t play up the aspect of being a LEGO toy set but it’s something I always thought kept it separate from non-LEGO world stories. LEGO City even played with the idea, instead of kids playing with the bricks the bricks make up the world. It’s something I found missing, at least to me personally.
Overall though this was an enjoyable story, though not a series I would personally go further into, and kids who like LEGO and ninjas may still enjoy it.