Writer: B. Clay Moore
Artist: Fernando Dagnino
Colorist: José Villarrubia
Letterer: Jeff Powell
What if MI-6 utilized ninjas as their elite agents, akin to James Bond’s Double-0 program? Imagine there was an agent for each decade, and a single man was responsible for training the majority of MI-6’s ninjas. Now imagine that this trainer taught each of them to access an innate superpower, and now, decades later, he needs them to acquire an artifact so he can continue to slow his aging. The ninja secret agents in Ki-6 Killers are this special breed of elite assassins.
B. Clay Moore has taken the philosophical concept of the Japanese “ki” or life force and turned it into a superpower. It’s an especially fitting concept for these former ninja spies in a world with immortal monks. Getting superpowers through meditation isn’t the craziest thing that’s happened in the Valiant Universe. Moore has developed a diverse cast of characters, each of them with a unique personality. They aren’t stereotypical characters, except for maybe the hippie ninja. but even he is very interesting. I was, however, disappointed that one of the characters was primarily motivated by her partner being “fridged.”
Fernando Dagnino’s art is extremely dynamic. No two pages in Ki-6 Killers look alike in terms of panel layout and content. He does an incredible job grounding the book in reality, showing real locations that range from Italian street markets to Chinese prisons. This grounding allows readers to connect with the characters and truly understand their motivations. It also serves to make the supernatural aspects of the ninjas more believable while still creating a sense of wonder. José Villarrubia’s colors aid in that simultaneous sense of grounding and wonder. Astrally projected dragons and a psychedelic look inside the mind are just two beautiful examples. Villarrubia even employs a sepia-toned coloring style for flashbacks to differentiate between the past and the present.
Jeff Powell’s lettering is exciting to look at, and it doesn’t distract the reader from the story or artwork. While many of the sound effects may be spelled similarly, his lettering gives each one a different timbre, resulting in very unique sounds. Even the incantations that the ninjas use to access their ki are eyecatching.
Ki-6 Killers is a great globetrotting adventure book about ninja spies with mystical powers. This book is perfect for fans of classic spy flicks or ninja movies. For readers new to Valiant, this book is a great introduction to this universe and will make them want to know more.