While scrolling through my comiXology account on my iPad looking to get in “on the ground floor” of a current independent release, my eyes were caught by the cover of Action Lab’s “Shinobi: Ninja Princess” Issue 1. I was drawn to the contrast of a bright blue ninja costume against a subtle earth toned backdrop (I know, I know, you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover and I assure you I have no attention of doing such, but c’mon, I’m sure most of the industry will attest, a strong cover is an attention getter).
I studied the art on the cover as I admittedly am not a huge fan of Anime features (yeah, I suppose I’m scarred from having to sit alongside my kids through Pokémon and “Dragon ball Z”), but with “Shinobi” I found the softened features of the four ninja’s on the cover more realistic and aesthetically pleasing. In addition, seeing that production of “Shinobi” was currently only two issues in, I decided that this would provide me the perfect “elevator out of the lobby” and began reading issues 1 & 2.
“Shinobi” is written and drawn my Martheus Wade who teams with colorist Marvin Cheveallier and Inker Janet Wade to provide what I soon found was an eye-catching and deeply hued account into the life of 14-year old Shianndrea Toshigawa and her fellow Toshigawa ninja recruits Negumi and Hamasuke. The plot twists and turns as the trio are assigned a mission to provide reconnaissance against her evil father’s Azumi Ninja who are tasked with delivering Shianndrea to him.
From the very first panel Wade and team present an action scene full of collective ninja stealth as the Azumi ninja’s infilitrate Goya Industries in New Tokyo. I was immediately impressed by the brilliant blue hues and bold shading. As I read on my iPad, I was pleased at the panel flow an unconventional geometrically shaped panels filled with bright, high contrast, and boldly shaded images.
As I continued reading I found the storyline bolstered by personal conflict between the three ninja recruits as they challenge each other through dangerous decisions and preconceived stereotypes. In reaching the final panel of issue one and prior to diving headlong into issue two, I began to flip back through the art to better study a few of the more colorful panels. I was admittedly pleased with both the storyline and the accompanying art. The comic was professionally done and the isolation and symbolism through color served to accentuate the action you would expect from ninja warriors.
The action picked up smoothly in Issue 2 with our heroine defying the orders of her Toshigawa Master Gaudient and being forced to use her advanced training to rescue her embattled comrades. Whereas Issue one set the stage for the storyline, Issue two delivers straight out ninja action.
As I was reading “Shinobi” my 9-year old son sat next to me on the couch inquired as to what I was reading. I explained that I had just began reading “Shinobi” and I showed him some of the art and explained the basic storyline. His sole reply on review what I had shown was “that’s cool, girl ninjas…You never see girl ninjas”. Yes folks, my 9-year old sits down and delivers a 95 mph fast-ball right past me…you never see girl ninjas saving the boys.
As a father of young children and especially a daughter, I am constantly concerned about the new age of technology pushing images and ideas at my children at a pace faster than I can control. In “Shinobi” I realized I was holding a shining example of appropriate media that was devoid of the hyper- sexualized art and adult themes that seem so prevalent in today’s society. In a time of gender stereotyping and sexual objectification, I applaud Wade and crew for giving parents and particularly girls a heroine that not only saves the day but teaches integrity and strength.
PS. I found my son reading Shinobi later that day…
Shinobi: Ninja Princess #3 is up for PREORDER at your local comic book store! Tell them you want this awesome book and spread the word. Shinobi: Ninja Princess #3 Rekishi (History): When Ninja Master Jubei sees that Shianndrea is upset over the revelation of Kim and Ai’s romantic relationship, he tells her the story of her ancestor, Yamoto Toshigawa, the Princess Tokuhime and their fight against the all powerful Oni named Dagamon. Meanwhile, Hamasuke makes plans to win back his honor and become the hero he feels he should be. 32 pages, $3.99.
You can hear Martheus Wade talk about his book on The Rookie and the Geek.