Valiant Comics' Killers debuted earlier this year, introducing us to a team of super-powered Ninjas on a secret mission. The series, written by B. Clay Moore (Hawaiian Dick, Savage), exists in the same world as Ninjak (aka Colin King), one of Valiant’s oldest characters. Ninjak was an MI6 operative trained in Britain’s top-secret Ninja Programme and first created by Mark Moretti and Joe Quesada (current EVP Creative Director, Marvel Entertainment) in Bloodshot #6 (1993).
When Valiant rebooted its lineup in 2017, writer Christos Gage (Netflix’s Daredevil) and artist Tomás Giorello (X-O MANOWAR) gave King a bit of an upgrade by altering his suit's design and the character’s history, as well as changing his name to Ninja-K.
That little punctuation change introduced us to an entire alphabet of secret Ninjas, all of whom had been trained before King. Ninja-K #1 (2018) also introduced us to Jonin, the ageless, mysterious Ninja who trained everyone from Ninja-C on, including Ninja-G (aka Blindside, given name Desdemona Rush), a weapons expert with a John Wick-style ability to hide in plain sight. She retired from the game with her girlfriend, a former mark and agent who worked for the Russians.
Now, Killers — Moore's new series drawn by Fernando Dagnino (Suicide Squad) with covers by Jonboy Meyers — pulls Blindside out of retirement when her home is attacked. The series introduces us to the bulletproof Ninja-J, the mute telepath sniper Ninja-E, and three more former agents who are forcibly pulled out of retirement by Jonin.
The Ninjas, six in all, have extraordinary abilities beyond just their Ninja training and are tasked with a dangerous international mission that will test their limits but ultimately bring them together. It's MI:6-turned-KI:6, and since Jonin has been a Ninja-K enemy for a while now, we'll just have to wait and see what side of the law this team ends up on.
SYFY WIRE spoke to writer B. Clay Moore about how he went about creating such a cinematic storyline, who would play the Ninjas in a movie, and whether they're the good guys.
What was it like expanding a universe that once just belonged to Ninja-K?
It was a lot of fun, really. We basically had the opportunity to expand on a corner of the "Ninjak Universe" that had been touched upon but not fully explored. So we were sort of allowed to make our own rules as we went, but within a loose existing framework.
Which of the super-powered ninjas is your favorite and why?
Probably Ninja-G, aka Blindside. She was the entry point for the story, and we were able to focus on her a little more right out of the gate. They were all fun to create and flesh out, but I think her story has a bit more depth, and I had a pretty firm handle on her.
How old is Jonin, exactly?
That's a question only the Jonin could answer. But, like, really, really old. Even older.
What was the most fun scene for you to write? What was the most difficult?
The most fun scene was definitely the battle that bridged the last two issues, as the Killers took on an army of, essentially, ancient zombie warriors.
The most difficult may have been the opening, which introduced Ninja-G and her partner, Devotchka. That scene was written, rewritten, edited, re-edited, and reworked multiple times. Originally it was a lot more violent, but it still works well to set up the story.
What was it like collaborating with Fernando Dagnino?
Very easy. Fernando is such a versatile, professional artist that I was always confident in his ability to improve upon the scripts he was handed. And I was right. The book jumps around geographically, and Fernando was always able to masterfully communicate something unique about each new environment. Just great work.
Will we learn more about Ninja-E, the telepathic mute's origin story?
I would guess so, somewhere down the line. We kicked around some really interesting ideas about his past, and it'll be interesting to see how that plays out as the characters entrench themselves in the Valiant Universe.
You’ve assembled quite the team. Is KI-6 about to be Valiant’s NinjAvengers?
I would say no. These guys are, first and foremost, trained killers. And while they're not bad guys, their motivation has little to do with saving the world for other people.
The volume reads like an action movie. Who would you fancast for each of the Ninjas?
Wow. I don't normally think in those terms when I'm creating characters in comics, but off the top of my head:
Ninja-G (Blindside): Pam Grier circa 1974.
Ninja-J (Carapace): Idris Elba. I mean, he could play any of them as far as I'm concerned.
Ninja-I (Snapdragon): Kate Beckinsale (I have no idea if she'd be right for the role, but any excuse to meet Kate Beckinsale ...).
Ninja-F (The Undisciple): David Tennant, after some protein shakes and bodybuilding.
Ninja-E (Sights): Dude never really takes off his mask, so I'm not sure it matters, but let's go with Tom Hardy because he can play anything.
The full volume drops in January, but any clues on future issues yet?
I think we'll probably see the group pop up in other titles before we see them return to their own book, but Valiant has so many plans for 2020, saying anything more would spoil the fun.