Set in the world of Valiant’s Ninjak series, Killers #1 is the perfect jumping-on point for newcomers who want to read a simple, clean, and visceral action series. Writer B. Clay Moore, artist Fernando Dragnino, colorist José Villarrubia, and Letterist Jeff Powell craft a brutal and straightforward entry point for new readers into the Ninjak and Valiant extended universe.
The script will not wow you, as it is formulaic, but it achieves what it sets out to do, be a visceral revenge tale with tons of action and violence. Moore’s words are efficient and kinetic, meaning the story mainly acts as a vehicle to direct the reader from fight to fight. The story boils down to someone is tracking down and attempting to murder a group of enhanced assassin’s called Ninjas. Ninja’s can live longer and have supernatural abilities such as invulnerable skin, super strength, quick reflexes, etc. A couple of Ninja’s survive their assassination attempts and join together to defeat their attackers.
If the plot sounds familiar, it’s because it is. But Moore adds some fun flavor to it to keep the reader entertained. The character’s dialogue is punchy and abrupt, and characters breeze through plot exposition efficiently. It’s almost as if some of the characters have heard this story and just want to get to the action as much as the readers have. While Ninja-G’s interrogation scene would have taken a third of the chapter in similar issues, in Killers #1, G gets her information within three chapters.
Some of the characters definitely have more thought behind them than others. It is evident in the number of unique quirks present in each one. Ninja-G acts as a pure force of destruction with little to no personality, which is understandable considering her circumstances, while Ninja-J is witty and personable with local merchants. J even goes to extra lengths to inflict punishment because his attacker destroyed his favorite Vape pen. Little details like that make the difference when fleshing out characters and making them relatable.
Dragino’s art and Villarrubia’s colors contribute immensely to Killers #1. Dragnino’s style is more realistic with intense and distinguishable line work, and Villarrubia’s heavy shading gives the story a noir vibe.
Where Dragnino and Villarrubia especially excel, is at depicting fight scenes. The best example is Ninja-J defending himself against his attackers. The entire fight takes place within five pages, but so much controlled destruction happens within those pages, and it is an excellent showcase for J’s fighting prowess and abilities. There is a fantastic kinetic energy in this scene that makes the reader jump from panel to panel, and each series of movement is punctuated with J doing something supernatural like breaking a knife on his body or deflecting bullets. There are individual touches like the environment shifting to green whenever something supernatural is happening and then fading away as the fight ends that are incredibly effective.
Killers #1 if anything is a violent romp through the Ninjak universe. Moore’s script is punchy and engaging enough to carry the plot towards Dragnino and Villarrubia’s frantic fight scenes. While not perfect, there is nothing wrong with having some violent fun with Killers #1.