07th Aug2019

‘KIllers #1’ Review (Valiant)

by Dean Fuller

Written by B. Clay Moore | Art by Fernando Dagnino | Published by Valiant Entertainment


Judging by the title, cover, and first page, subtlety is not something this title is aspiring to. That’s not a bad thing, as these days it’s a crowded comic book shop shelf you need to stand out from. Truth be told, that’s exactly what got me to pick the book up. Interesting cover, concept seemed cool, B.Clay Moore always seems to turn up on generally interesting stories, and the art looked good. I only dip into Valiant very occasionally at the moment, but know they are making a really strong push at the moment to freshen up their line and get attention. Psi-Lords was pretty decent, so let’s see how Killers shapes up.

From the beginning this looks like being a high octane book. We jump from Colorado, to Italy, to London in the space of a few pages, as we start with an attack on, and seemingly murder of, a lone woman in her home. We quickly learn the intended target was not home, a second woman who just happened to be a retired assassin. Not just any assassin, but part of the Ninja programme, Ninja-G (which all ties into the Ninjak books of the past), a woman presumed dead by most. She has come to London to find her old handler, Alcott, to see if MI6 put a hit on her. He denies it, saying that all the Ninja operatives, from A-K, have many enemies, but most are lying low, dead, or no longer traceable. Except one.

That particular Ninja agent, Ninja-J has been lying low in Burano, Italy. Until now that is, as an assassination attempt is made on him several highly skilled hit-men. He manages to take them out, just, before a mysterious girl summons him. That same mysterious girl also makes contact with Ninja-G, also called Desdemona Rush, who has arrived to try and find Ninja-J, also known as Roger Thorpe. The girl, who seems a little older than her age indicates going by her dress sense and mannerisms, reveals that she is the daughter of The Jonn, who is the former sensei that trained Desdemona and the other Ninja agents. Turns out that Desdemona is actually in her seventies, though she looks half that age, a technique the sensei taught her. It seems his daughter wants to call in a favour, to find an artifact called ‘The Tears of the Burning Monk’.

Why Desdemona? She was apparently his favourite pupil. Why her particular skills? In typical adventure movie fashion, the artifact is hidden away. In a heavily guarded underground chamber. In a 1000 year old glacier. Short of waiting for global warming to help, specialists are required. She tracks down Roger, Ninja-J, explains the similarity in attacks on them both, and what The Jonn requires them to do. The two decide that the best thing to do is to pool resources and try to find out who is behind the attacks on them, and why. As Ninja agents tend to follow on from each other, (Ninja-G operated in the Seventies, Ninja-J the early 2000’s) they rarely team up, so to see two in action together is a rare treat. Actually, hold that thought. Roger just punched Desdemona through a window several stories up. Bet she didn’t see that coming.

This was actually far more fun and entertaining that it had any right to be. Yes, a little derivative in places perhaps, but I like to think Moore took the best elements of the relevant genres, spy films especially, and worked with them, throwing in a little Eastern mysticism. I loved the fact that even a relative newbie like me was completely up to speed by the end of the issue, so the (mini) series could be happily read as a standalone, or as part of a larger Ninja-K universe if you are a long time fan. The story was exciting, had plenty of action, and enough intrigue to keep you curious. The art was very strong, channeling the story nicely, with excellent panel composition particularly in the fight scenes. I always like the feeling of motion in panels, of kinetic energy, and this book had it in spades with Dagnino’s art. Villarubia’s murky colours also played their part creating a suitable atmosphere too.

A strong opening issue, that manages to bring fresh life to a sometimes jaded genre, the spy thriller. Good characters, strong concept, good creators. Sort of a ‘if Jason Bourne had super powers’ vibe.

We like.

**** 4/5

Killers #1 is out now from Valiant Comics


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