Pirates vs. Ninjas #1

By | Thursday, January 04, 2007 1 comment
Okay, first off: why has it taken so long for someone to do a pirates vs. ninjas comic? I mean, c'mon! It's a brilliantly simple concept that requires no explanation beyond the title.

"Hey, Sean! Whatcha readin'?"

"Pirates vs. Ninjas."

"What's it about?"

"Um... pirates versus ninjas."

That said, it is in fact a dangerous concept to tackle. The pirate versus ninja debate has been going on since the mid-1960s, and it's a question that instantly gets your imagination racing. And precisely because your imagination is filled with tons of imagry and a host of different scenarios, almost any interpretation of that is going to fall short. (Rule of thumb: interpretations always fall short of your imagination.)

But in the case of Antarctic Press' Pirates vs. Ninjas, we're treated to every highlight of every pirate versus ninja debate since the idea was first introduced. We've got pirates brushing off throwing stars, ninja stealth gliders, pirates chopping off ninja heads, ninjas sneaking aboard a pirate ship, pirates being fired out of cannons... but, I'm getting ahead of myself.

The story (yes, we have an actual story on top of cool fight scenes!) revolves around an ancient map the pirates have to the treasure of the old gods. The scrawlings on the map are so obscure that only one navigator can interpret them, and the ninjas swoop in to try to capture the navigator and the map for themselves, in the hope of reviving Raiga, father of ninjutsu. The ninjas succeed and the issue ends with the navigator in the clutches of the ninja.

The prologue sets up most of the story for us in the first five pages. The ninjas reveal their plot on the last page. Just about everything in between is a rip-roaring fight between the pirates and the ninjas. It's just all-out fun across the board -- the pirates act exactly as you'd expect and the ninja act exactly as you'd expect. Every reason you've heard why a pirate or a ninja should or shouldn't win a fight is on display and, what's more, many of the qualities that some people cite as advantages are simultaneously used as disadvantages. Sure, the pirates are drunk, but that also means they don't feel the little pin pricks caused by the ninja's small blades. Sure, the ninjas are practiced and orderly, but that doesn't mean didly in the chaos that is a pirate ship.

Let me put this succinctly: Pirates vs. Ninjas is a fun book. It could easily have relied too heavily on the concept and let details like art and storytelling and dialogue fall to the wayside, but the book lives up to (and indeed exceeds) my expectations.

Like Marvel's promotions of "Civil War", Antarctic Press has used a "Whose Side Are You On?" campaign slogan to tout the book. Unlike Civil War, though, Pirates vs. Ninjas is well worth the price of admission!
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Unknown said...

Kleefeld, old slug, I was delighted to see this review. Surprised by it, too. I didn't think anyone outside of Texas ever looked at an Antarctic Press comic. Not since the Warrior Nun fell out of favor, anyway.

I've always supported AP -- cheering on the underdog, so to speak. I like Babiar's style (and like Espinosa's even more...although I think they chose the right artist for this particular book) and I was glad to hear they'd done the subject right.

On your recomm, I'm gonna go track this sucker down.