Since the Ninja-K relaunch, writer Christos Gage has used the series not just the titular character, but how he fits into the larger tapestry of the Ninja Programme and to what degree past Ninjas leave their mark on his life today. Utilizing this notion of legacy, Gage is able to throw the spotlight on different members of the Programme as well as the different time periods in which those Ninjas operated and how that schema affected their respective missions.
This August’s issue #10 uses that idea in a story about Ninja-H navigating Great Britain during the time of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s tenure. Accompanying Gage on this one-shot story is legendary artist Larry Stroman, whose work on such books as Marvel’s X-Factor and his Image series Tribe have secured his reputation as an industry dynamo.
Mr. Gage spoke with me recently about the idea behind the Ninja-H tale in Ninja-K #10, how this standalone story will impact Ninja-K’s life, how the Cold War setting moves the narrative, and what we can expect in the series moving forward.
FreakSugar: For folks who are joining in, what is the conceit of the Ninja-H story in Ninja-K #10?
Christos Gage: The basic premise is that Ninja-H, who is the cyborg ninja agent seen in the flashback spread in issue #1 with a shoulder-cannon emerging from his body, has emerged from stasis and is on the loose. Ninjak has to stop him. That sounds pretty straightforward, but what it really is, is an exploration of what it’s like to be the first Ninja agent to whom MI6 attempted to give superhuman abilities…the many pieces of technology they put into his body, the A.I. that overrides his human moral response to war, and how it all affects the man at the center of it.
FS: Part of the fun of the series is getting the chance to view different Ninjas from the Programme operate throughout the decades. Without giving too much away, how does Ninja-H’s time as an operative inform the larger story you’re wanting to tell?
CG: Obviously, the Cold War was a time of arms races… every side, and often allies, escalating their ability to destroy the others, trying to keep up or pull ahead at any cost. This specific story is about how we can continue to refine and enhance the technology we use in war, but at the end of the day, there are still human beings in the thick of it. And increasing the deadliness of the weapons can’t help but have an effect on them. In a larger sense, it’s about how the human being at the center of this weapon is subverted to the reason for the weapon’s existence.
FS: Following up on that, will we see what occurs in issue #10 impact Ninja-K’s life in any way?
CG: Yes. My run on Ninjak has a very specific character arc. He’s essentially coming to grips with having grown up in an abusive situation, and what that means for him. Not just his parents, as we saw in Matt Kindt’s awesome run, but he’s also discovering he’s part of an abusive tradition in the Ninja Programme itself. This will lead to Colin having to face certain things and make some tough decisions. Every issue is a part of that process.
FS: Issue #10 takes place during Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Thatcher’s politics were decidedly conservative. Will you be showing how that impacted the Ninja Programme and how he operated during the Cold War?
CG: It’s less an issue of where things fell on the political spectrum than it is a look at what lengths people would go to during the Cold War to win that battle and keep pace with other nations, even allies. This is a period when the USA in the Valiant Universe had super-powered H.A.R.D. Corps agents, so it made sense to me that MI6 would explore the possibility of creating their own enhanced agents. However, as I keep coming back to, there is a human being at the core of it, and the story is about how it affects him to be this walking weapon of mass destruction.
FS: The issue is illustrated by Larry Stroman, who’s a legend in the comic industry. What was the collaboration process like with Larry?
CG: I believe I finished the script before he was officially on board, so there wasn’t much in the way of direct communication, but I’m a huge fan of Larry’s. In about 1991, I went to a convention in Boston and stood in line to get an autograph from Larry on X-Factor #71, so it’s a big thrill for me to have the opportunity to work with him. I can’t wait to see him cut loose on the issue! The cover I’ve seen so far is awesome.
FS: Is there anything you can tease about the issue or Ninja-K going forward?
CG: I’m very proud of issue #10. It’s a story I’ve been wanting to tell for a while, I’m excited Larry is drawing it, and I hope the readers like it. As for going forward, there won’t be a direct tie-in to Harbinger Wars 2, but we will see the fallout affect Ninjak…and not just in terms of his relationship with Livewire.
Ninja-K #10 goes on sale Wednesday, August 15th, from Valiant.
From the official issue description:
From the encrypted files of The Ninja Programme, another secret chapter revealed!
As revealed at Freaksugar today, Valiant is proud to announce NINJA-K #10 – a BLOCKBUSTER NEW JUMPING-ON POINT for the EXPLOSIVE ONGOING SERIES from acclaimed writer Christos Gage (Netflix’s Daredevil) and legendary artist Larry Stroman (X-Factor)! On August 15th, prepare for another incredible one-shot special issue exploring the hidden history behind one of MI6’s former secret agents… In Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, meet the future of espionage: the hard-hitting, brutalizing super-spy codenamed NINJA-H!
The Cold War is in full swing and the United Kingdom’s top-secret intelligence unit has come to a crossroads. As their once-elite collection of secret agents finds itself outmatched by the escalation of the United States’ H.A.R.D. Corps division, the spymasters of MI6 are about to develop a new kind of soldier for their never-ending war of global gamesmanship and international intrigue. Part man, part machine, and bound together with the most extreme technological enhancements that the 1980s have to offer, NINJA-H is faster, stronger, and deadlier than any who have come before…
This summer, discover a brand-new, breathtaking entry point into the critically beloved series that’s launched martial arts master Colin King into a new realm of shadows, subterfuge, and senses-shattering action.
Now, for the first time, the metal-crunching saga of MI6’s one-man, super-powered strike force – and his tragic fall from grace – can finally be told! On August 15th, renowned writer Christos Gage teams up with comics legend Larry Stroman to declassify the next shadow-laden chapter in the history of Ninjak’s fellow Ninja Programme agents with NINJA-K #10! Featuring an incendiary assortment of covers by Giuseppe Camuncoli (Superior Spider-Man), Larry Stroman (Alien Legion), and Darick Robertson (HARBINGER RENEGADE)!