One of the newest comic titles to be launched (or relaunched) by Valiant Entertainment, Ninja-K had a lot of buzz surrounding it before its relaunch. This, as it turned out, was for good reason, as Ninja-K #2, by Christos Gage, Rafael de la Torre, and Tomas Giorello, is one of the comics that comes to mind first when I think of the best alternative publisher titles I've read this year.
The first arc of Ninja-K has consisted of him investigating the death of Ninja-D and the intricacies and conspiracies therein. As I said in my review of the book, this book makes me very reminiscent of Ed Brubaker's Captain America. Both contain duty-driven protagonists working for or in tandem with government organizations in a James Bond-esque fashion, uncovering mysteries relevant to their past as well as the organizations with which they're working.
I said this in my review as well: reminding me of Ed Brubaker's Captain America is a very good thing to do.
The mysteries in Ninja-K are aptly compelling, and the protagonist reveals his personality in subtle ways as he advances through the story. He's competent yet naive. He has a strong sense of justice, yet he is clearly a bit lost in this system. He's a good soldier, and that's what will make him dangerous to those who seek to abuse that.
Madame Charade is a great character as well. She's not in Ninja-K #2 for a particularly long span of time, but she makes an impact with her mixture of vanity, pragmatism, and odd sympathy for a person she used to fight.
Rafael de la Torre, Tomas Giorello, and Diego Rodriguez do a good job of making this comic as compelling to simply look at as it is to read. The world of Ninja-K is vibrant and attractive. De la Torre does a good job of doing up the flashback sequence, and Giorello makes the present look great. Rodriguez makes certain that the colors are up to snuff in both sections, and the resulting comic is visually stunning.
Ninja-K #2 came in late this year, but it is no less earning of a spot in this list. It's an absorbing and tense read, and it earns its #2 slot.