Monday, 12 November 2012

Review: Ninjago Graphic Novels #1 & #2

LEGO have created a rich back story to the Ninjago theme, which is explored in different media to create a full experience for young fans. Papercutz are releasing a series of Ninjago graphic novels aimed at children, and with Christmas approaching they might be a great gift to accompany that great big LEGO set. Read on for the All About Bricks review of LEGO Ninjago #1 and #2.

Ninjago #1: The Challenge of the Samurai

The book opens with artwork depicting Jay, Zane, Cole, Kai and Nya as well as a neat map of the Ninjago world. The cover art shows the four Ninjas bursting into action, and reflects the artwork found inside.

The story is framed by Garmadon and Samukai, the two lead villains, placing a bet on whether Samukai can defeat the Ninjas – and whoever wins will take control of their forces of darkness. This nicely sets up the relationship between the two of them, hinting that conflict with the Ninjas will not be all they have to contend with. 
The chapters that follow show the various attempts of Samukai to defeat the Ninjas, which range from using Crystal Caves to confuse Kai’s allies to hijacking Sensei Wu’s challenges to trap the four heroes. An early chapter is an origins story, revealing how Kai came to be trained in Spinjitzu by Sensei Wu. A nice moment towards the end also explains why the villains are so determined to steal the Ninjas’ weapons.

This graphic novel introduces all of the key characters in a nice, well paced story. The artwork nicely complements it with clear movement and action, with detailed panels where necessary as well as Saturday morning serial style panels with a kinetic feel. Paulo Henrique has found lot of expressiveness from the two-dots-and-a-line minifigure faces, even when they are often covered by their Ninja hoods.

Ninjago #2: Mask of the Sensei

With the story set up already, the second story jumps straight into the action. There is some nicely written banter between Kai and Nya, seemingly setting her up for a bigger role better. But before long, Sensei Wu has been brought to the siblings injured... and when he seems to have recovered, not quite himself. The Masters of Spinjitzu must figure out why Sensei Wu suddenly wants to take control of the world of Ninjago, and complete several challenges along the way.

Greg Farshtey writes this second issue as he did the first, and injects some nice humour along the way – in particular a seen in which Jay must figure out how to get a dragon angry stands out. This graphic novel is not episodic like the first, but one grand adventure. Once again, the artwork fits the fun-filled action story perfectly. 

These graphic novels are a fun, breezy romp in the world of Ninjago. They would be great for young fans who enjoy building LEGO Ninjago, as they flesh out the characters and world of the toys, but would also work as a great introduction for those who haven’t taken the jump yet. For adult fans of LEGO, they provide a fun, readable LEGO adventure and have a nice nostalgia factor as they are stylistically similar to the cartoons of the 1980s.

To order Ninjago graphic novels, head over to Amazon or your local bookseller. 

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