Every hero has an origin, but Valiant is letting its creators lose on telling their endings -- beginning with Ninjak.
As part of the recently announced "Book of Death" summer event for Valiant Entertainment, Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine are taking an in-continuity jump into the near future to spell out how it'll all end for Ninjak in the fittingly titled Book of Death: The Fall of Ninjak one-shot.
This is part of a larger wave of titled under Valiant's "Book of Death" event for summer 2015. Kicking things off in July with a four-issue Book of Death series, the event will grow to feature Book of Death one-shots subtitled The Fall of Bloodshot, The Fall of Harbinger, The Fall of X-O Manowar and this series.
Kindt has worn his fandom for Ninjak on his sleeve for years, and in an exclusive interview with Newsarama the wrtier talks about his excitement with the charact and also working within the Valiant universe. The Mind Mgmt writer is quick to key in on the fact that Ninjak is one of the few non-powered players in a comics universe like Valiant's filled with superhumans, aliens, and those with advanced technology, and looks to use that contrast in Book of Death: The Fall of Ninjak.
Newsarama: Matt, you've been pretty open about your love of Ninjak as a character. What makes a Ninjak book your dream project?
Matt Kindt: He’s a ninja/spy. Which kind of sells itself you know? Basically combining the two coolest things you can write about into one character. But beyond that superficial aspect, I’m attracted to the creative challenge of making this character relatable and grounded. So I’m really taking two approaches to this character: one as the 12-year-old me that thinks ninjas and spies are the coolest, and the grown-up me that is interested in flawed characters with unique sets of problems. So a typical round of scripting would be like this: “It’s be so cool if he had poison darts that shoot out of the soles of his boots!”...and then grown-up me says: “Well, sure, but why would he have that and what kind of crazy upbringing would make poison boot darts seem like a good idea to a grown man?”
Nrama: Obviously the events of The Valiant have some big ramifications moving forward. How will we see that reflected in Ninjak?
Kindt: I think it’s going to take a while for Ninjak to catch up to the events in The Valiant. Ninjak’s series is very much about a non-powered character in a world with lots of power floating around. So eventually we’ll get to see how this “normal” man can not only exist in a world with power-suited barbarians (X-O Manowar) and immortal warriors (Eternal Warrior), but how he’s able to go toe-to-toe with them. We saw some of how he’s able to do that in The Valiant – going against the Immortal Enemy. So in the first few arcs of his own series, it’s more about telling the story of how this normal human armed with a sword made himself into something that isn’t just pissing himself when confronted by the ultimate evil.
Nrama: What role will Ninjak play in the "Book of Death" event as a whole?
Kindt: Ninjak plays a key role in the future of the Valiant Universe. A lot of different universe-changing events hinge on his involvement – which we’ll end up seeing in the Book of Death: The Fall of Ninjak one-shot. Ninjak ends up being on the fringe of things – manipulating events from a thousand different ways on the outside and from the shadows, in true master-spy fashion.
Nrama: Book of Death: The Fall of Ninjak one-shot explores part of the Book of the Geomancer. What will we see Ninjak dealing with as a result of that?
Kindt: We’ll see Ninjak at the end of his life, basically. It takes place almost 80 years from now and he’s old. A lot of things have happened, so we’ll catch up with him at the very end of his life. Without revealing too much, we’ll get to see a glimpse into Ninjak and Livewire’s potential relationship, we’ll see the fate of Unity and we’ll also get our first glimpse at the origin of Japan in the year 4001.
Nrama: This event is called "The Book of Death" and at least the "Fall" of Ninjak has been promoted by Valiant. How important is this series for Ninjak, and will anyone important die in your Ninjak issue?
Kindt: Well, yeah. Ninjak dies. Semi-spoiler...ha! – but I think the conceit of these books is to show the ultimate fate of the character, which was really fun to write. You sort of have to project out years of unseen continuity and then drop the reader in at the end...but do it in a way that is tantalizing, but doesn’t lose the readers. A lot of hinting at the past and references to things that let readers sort of fill in the gaps with their imaginations, which is a lot more fun and powerful, I think, than just showing every single thing that happened. It makes for a great story set up. And more importantly, it’s a fun way to connect Rai to the present day in a way that hasn’t been seen yet.
Nrama: Valiant is marketing these “Book of Death” titles as the in-continuity future of its line. What's it like jumping ahead for this story, and then writing to that in your other work?
Kindt: It’s been a lot of fun. I think you can tend to get a little myopic in your view of characters – just looking ahead six or 12 issues at a time – and with this project – it really forces you to push things out to their ultimate conclusion – with stories that will really take 20 or 30 years in real time to get to. And ultimately I think it helps you get to the core of that character. It forces you to really boil them down and see what they are at the core.
Nrama: Trevor Hairsine is handling art chores for Book of Death: The Fall of Ninjak. What’s it like working with him on interiors?
Kindt: I can’t say enough about Trevor’s work. I’d been a fan of his and really was excited to get him on Divinity – which I think has been the best work he’s ever done. He’s just a master of taking complicated visuals and storytelling concepts and laying them out in a way that really sells the story and the moments. So having him on this issue is amazing – we’re packing 80 years of history into this one issue and I’m not hesitating at all in putting a lot of crazy ideas into this because I know he can more than pull it off. My first script for him I thought “Boy, I hope he can pull this off.” The next script I thought “I know he can totally nail this.” And now he’s raised my game and is pushing my imagination, so with this one I’m going in thinking “let’s see if he can pull this off.” And you just know he will.
Nrama: I'm told that Ninjak will still be involved with Unity in this future story of “Book of Death”, but that the team will be quite different. What can you say about that?
Kindt: Yeah – Unity will have gone through a lot of changes over the years. Much like the glimpses we’ve gotten of the early Unity teams from the 1920s through the 70s – there have been as many incarnations in the next 80 years. Eternal Warrior is still around of course...and GIN-GR will play a huge role – she’s sort of the Unity character that has remained constant over the years. Meanwhile, Ninjak and the others grew older. And we’ll see what happened to Livewire – she ends up being the key that ties the 21st century to the year 4001.
Nrama: Big picture, why should people -- Ninjak fans and non-Ninjak fans -- want to pick up this issue?
The only thing more badass than a young Ninjak in his prime is a super-old Ninjak who’s seen it all and is a thousand times more cool. He’s a grizzled veteran and he’s missing an arm. But really this issue is going to be a really fun window to glimpse the future of the Valiant Universe through…to see where favorite characters ended up – some alive and some dead – and connecting a lot of dots between present and 4001 events. It’s got the most ideas that I could pack into 22 pages and it covers a lot of ground.