NYCC 2016: Valiant Panel: Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe and more

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

Not be left behind in the comics-to-cinema boom, the award-winning publisher of books like Harbinger, Imperium, Archer & Armstrong, and Faith, Valiant Comics, have got something special to share with New York City Comic Con guests! Heading up a first-look at footage from Valiant’s forthcoming NINJAK VS. THE VALIANT UNIVERSE six-part live-action series was panel moderator Hunter Gorison, who proudly introduced CEO and Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani, Director of Digital Media & Development Josh Johns, and directors Aaron & Sean Schoenke – creators of the Youtube smash hit series Super Powered Beatdown. The panel also featured acting talent Michael Rowe (Ninjak), Jason David Frank (Bloodshot), Derek Theler (X-O Manowar), Chantelle Barry (Roku), Kevin Porter (Armstrong), Ciera Foster (Livewire).

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the character: Colin King is the affluent son of a Bond-level spy who works for the British Government. While growing up in the Orient, Colin’s father was murdered by an adversarial agent named Iwatsu. Wanting to continue his father’s important work, Colin trained in the art of ninjutsu, and honors his father’s legacy while fighting all of England under the name Ninjak. Filling Ninjak’s kevlar-clad pajamas will be Michael Rowe – who you might know him as Deadshot from the CW’s ARROW.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for fans of Valiant's tight-knit universe is that many of the chracters who helped put the publisher on the indie map will be joining Ninjak for his live-action debut. To kick things off, Gorison announced that Valiant will be introducing an "entirely new division of the company" called Valiant Digital. In regard to the Bat in the Sun produced Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe, the plot will see Ninjak being left with no choice but to steal something from the MI6 – to which the British Intelligence outfit will then activate a special task force codenamed "Unity" in response to Ninjak's thieverous actions. 

I've got to tell you, the energy in the room was really quite remarkable – with the obvious takeaway being that these Valiant fans have been climbing the walls for the chance to see some of their favorite comic book characters recieve the live-action treatment. As the time drew near for the trailer to be rolled out, the panelists encouraged the audience to chant the word "Ninjak" – and of course the eager fans responded in kind.. As the footage played out, each character reveal among the frenzied action beats was met with thunderous appaluse. 

Next, the panelists began sharing stories of their personal experiences while filming the show. Included in this sections were anecdotes about the creation of the Ninjak suit – specifically that it took 5-6 people to build the master assassin's gear. Jason David Frank then spoke about the makeup process for his Bloodshot character, and how it took 2 and a half hours to apply but only 45 to take off. Following up Frank's makeup story was Chantelle Barry, who remarked about being the only villain on the set. Moving down the line, Derek Theler then expressed his excitement for the X-O Manowar suit, saying that it's going to look just like it does in the comics. Kevin Porter than spoke about his routine to gain weight in preparation to play the almost-always-inebriated Armstrong – saying that he was required to go from a weight of 230 to 275 pounds for the role. Lastly, Sierra Foster spoke about being the first character to square-off against Ninjak, and how she packed on 8 pounds of muscle to look the part of a complete badass. 

As the behind-the-scenes talk continued on, fans learned more about the score, choreography, and "wardrobe malfuntions" involved in the making of this exciting series. Bat in the Sun then expressed that their goal is to create a show that feels as close to the comics as possible. The panel then fielded a few questions from the audience, but were a tad cagey about getting too specific with thier answers. To wrap everything up, Bat in the Sun announced that they had yet another clip to share that would assuredly wet the panel attendees ravenous appetites. What follwed was a clip of fan-favorite, Bloodshot, doing what he does best – being a regenerative badass.

The six-part digital-only series will premiere in 2017. Until then, Valiant fans will no doubt have bloody sugar plumbs dancing in their heads as they dream of the day when they finally can watch this much anticipated show. And yeah, as a comic fan, I've got to give it up for Valiant. They're breaking into the live-action scene in their own way and look to be making an effort to reamin as true to the source material as possible. In a time when Marvel and DC are dominating the box office, it gets me feeling a little warm and fuzzy to see a company like Valiant looking to make a splash in their own way.


About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.