Nth Man the Ultimate Ninja. The most 80’s comic ever

One of the more baffling things about comics is what gets released and what doesn’t with regards to collected editions by both Marvel, DC and various other companies. By that I mean you can find the entire run of the champions, a book where Black Widow, Hercules, Ghost Rider, Angel and Ice Man hang out on the west coast of the U.S. but you can not find a collected book of Nth Man, ultimate ninja. I think we can agree, this is a shame.

If you haven’t heard of the Nth Man series, well stop me if you’ve heard this before. Set six months after the start of World War 3, a daring team of American Special Forces land in red square and free John Doe, a U.S. assassin imprisoned after a failed attempt to kill the head of the KGB. He is freed because he is needed to kill his childhood friend Alfie O’Meagan who has wiped out all nuclear weapons, which kick started W.W.3. All that happens in the first issue and while it was cancelled at 16, not the allotted 24 it does cram a lot of action in, and is perhaps one of the most 80’s comics ever.

It features Ninjas, America and the U.S.S.R. at war, time travel and is perhaps one of the more out there comics in existence. It suits the medium perfectly because it of the ability to tell a complete story without needing a huge budget for special effects. Written by my man Larry Hama with art by Ron Wagner and Don Keown it is a thing of beauty, and most issues had a glossary of terms in the back of the book with the letters column. While it does sit outside the normal Marvel Universe some characters do take inspiration from comics, such as Alfie appearing as Galactus, and John Doe’s mentor’s ninja outfit looks like Storm Shadow’s urban cammo job.

The fact that it doesn’t have a collected edition is sad but not really surprising. It only lasted 16 out of the allotted 24 issues which does tend to make a comic company cautious about releasing older books. The first volume of the Suicide Squad by John Ostrander was considered a flop and the fact that we are getting more volumes is I suspect due to the movie coming out and increasing demand. I mean if Peter David’s X-factor has stalled at volume 2, what chances does a cult comic from the 80’s have. In fact Peter David’s X-factor is a fantastic comic and the fact there isn’t a collected edtion volume 3 is a crying shame.

That said, if Marvel does every decide to print the entirety of Nth Man: Ultimate Ninja I’ll write the intro for free, as long as you promote my comics.

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How to cope when your favourite comic is ending.

This week, I shed a tear for Howard the Duck, whose comic which has brought me such great joy is ending soon. The fact that we even got a Howard comic since 2015 is surprising, considering if it wasn’t for that cameo in that movie were a human teams up with two green people, a talking tree and raccoon and fight space Thor at the end, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Yes Guardians of the Galaxy is responsible for Howard the Duck getting another comic, but it was the strength of Chip Zdarksy and Joe Quinones that made it the awesome comic it is. But with Chip confirming the comic is ending, rather than being cancelled, which is a bit of a semantic case the fact is that a Howard the Duck comic only has a limited shelf life.

I’m as big of a Howard mark as the next guy but truth be told it’s mostly because of Chip’s handle on the character, and how he wrote the loveable mallard, but I’d be hard pressed to admit that there is 50 plus issues of story that could be told. At the end of the day, he’s still a talking duck and that is difficult to fit into most stories. I mean when you already have the Avengers flying around or a guy with a painted on skull killing fools, it’s hard to take Howard seriously. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great comic and if you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should. But my point is there are only so many tales you can tell with Howard before you start to repeat because he is such a niche character in the Marvel U, and outside character studies, which Chip is doing, it’s best to limit his appearances.

So if you’re new to comics there will always be sadness when your favourite comic has ended. How do you you fill the void left by such a comic? Well you could always read the series again, from start to finish either in single issue or trade form. That way the series lives on, fresh in your mind. You could always try other books by the creators. Maybe it was the art work or the writer that drew you to the book, and you could perhaps look into other books that they have worked on.

Or use the time to discover new and exciting books. Find a character or setting you really dig and try that. You like Romeo and Juliet, but wished it contained more sci fi elements including a cat that could detect when people lied? Try Saga! Love zombies but wished they had more super heroes in there? Try Marvel Zombies! Want to start reading G.I.Joe because I won’t shut up about how great it is? For the older marvel books, you can start here, for the start of the IDW series, start here or for a kick arse take on Cobra, start here.

The sad part is, collecting and reading comics can be a crap shoot. What may start out as a solid idea, “A group of villains team up to commit crimes” may sound good in paper but doesn’t often translate into sales for what ever reason. Poor choice of opening story, luckluster reaction to a niche character. Market saturation. Some times a book just reaches it’s natural conclusion and to go on would be trying to wring water from an already dry towel. Rejoice that for a time, some one decided that there really ought to be a title of your favourite character out there, and for what ever reason, it just sadly didn’t work.

Am I sai Howard is leaving us? Of course I am, it was one of my favourite books of the past year, I took a chance on a weird, niche character and walked away with a really awesome book that I love talking about, much to delight of no one. Books get cancelled all the time, and while it is sad, it’s part of the publishing process. So enjoy your favourite books while you can and give support to the creators who write them. You’ll never know when they might be cancelled.

G.I.Joe Deviations

Paul Allor is a fantastic writer. If you don’t believe me, then you should check out G.I.Joe Deviations, in which over the course of 24 pages he tells a complete story set in an alternate world of G.I.Joe where Cobra wins, which makes Cobra Commander go a little stir crazy. The nature of the book is more comedy than action orientated, which isn’t to say it isn’t action packed, but the focus of a lighter tone works a lot better then a gritty end of the world type.  The idea of Destro and the Baroness settling down and having kids is brilliant, as is the idea of having to replace several nannies. I won’t spoil it for anyone except to say you should check it out as it’s perhaps one of the better books out there.

But it does lead to a slightly larger problem. While the book is fantastic, I have to question who it is really written for? The Deviations range is certainly inventive, it’s also a bit baffling because they’re seemingly made for fans of the respective title,s of which there are four other books. That’s okay, but they’re not really user friendly, because unless you have a vested interest in the characters already, you won’t really care if Mulder was abducted by aliens or if Optimus Prime decided that he’d rather not die. To be fair there is a recap page in the cover explaining the series, but I can’t really imagine anyone who isn’t already a G.I.Joe fan walking past it on the shelf and deciding to read it. No matter how great the review is. The same goes for the other books as well. Unless I’m already a fan of the series, I don’t really care how a world would be different if X happened and not Y.

That’s not to say that they’re not any good, because they are and if Paul Allor were to write a G.I.Joe book I’d sign up for that in a heart beat. But seeing as the goal of a comic company is to increase readership of these titles, offering an alternate look into what could’ve been doesn’t really strike me as some thing will bring in new readers, and while the concept is cool, I can’t really see it as a basis for a monthly title.

Streetfighter X G.I.joe review

So the the biggest comics of February has finaly arrived. No, not Aveners the secret of Pleasant Hill or what ever it’s called (Although that is a cracking good tale) no silly, we finally have Streetfighter x G.I.joe arrive. The story itself is pretty sweet, with the reason the tournament is conceived is that Destro can have the ultimate weapon that can only be powered up by one on one fights. While it may not be the best story ever conceived, it does provide a fantastic back drop why they are fighting in the first place. The winner gets access to the weapon, but all things being comics, I suspect some one will cheat meaning the good guys have to team up to stop M. Bison and Destro.

The fights themselves are really cool,visually interesting and are really entertaining. Writher Aubrey Sitterson and artist Emilio Laiso   has exceeded my expections and delivered a ripping good read. The action is broken down into 4 fights for the first two issues, and features comedy gold. Roadblock some where things it’s appropreaite for him to use his 50 calibre machine gun in a martial arts tournament is a pretty funny. The fights never really as go as you think they would, and while you can sort of guess the overall outcome, half the fun is arriving at the end.

The book also features character profiles on the fighters involved and a quick recap for fights they couldn’t show you which is better left for you to read. It isn’t for everyone, and while it’s designed for mostly fans of either franchises, anyone can pick this up and enjoy it. Aubrey Sitterson has done a fantastic job in writing a book that is equal parts welcoming to newcomers as for diehard fans themselves, and if you’re a fan of fighting comics or either franchise then check it out.