Good Ninjas and Bad Ninjas – Legend of the Shadow Clan

Aspen Comics is slowly but surely expanding their line of titles with books that are diverse, not just from each other, but also from those of other publishers.  To help them do that, they ran a promotional campaign in 2013 called 10 for 10 which consisted of ten new titles at a dollar apiece for every first issue.  There were new volumes of existing titles like Fathom and Soulfire and brand new properties like Jirni and Trish Out of Water.  One book which saw publication from that line was Legend of the Shadow Clan by Brad Foxhoven, David Wohl and Cory Smith.  Having done a good job on every title previously, it was certain that this book would be just as good.  Also having such beautiful covers by Joe Benitez and Eric Basaldua to entice you in could not hurt either.

With Wohl writing the bulk of the story and Foxhoven helping on plots, they came up with an idea that featured a family of ninjas who did not even know that they were ninjas.  In fact, this family is a part of a long and regal bloodline of ninjas that were forced into hiding.  Their estranged grandfather knows this and has been looking out for them from afar, but sometimes things refuse to stay buried and having the skills of a ninja, as well as their enemies, is one of them.

There is a lot of action in the book, which, as it is a story about ninjas, definitely did not hurt.  Cory Smith is a great storyteller in his own right and he lays down the action sequences with great skill.  The character designs were good, though Morgan and the twins, Rachel and Rose, really stand out from everyone else.  Come the next series, if Smith stays on the book, having more of the twins featured and having more of Morgan is a must, and not only because of a design aspect, but due to the fact that they are just a little more interesting than the rest of the family.  Except Pogo.  Having a little super-genius around is always a good thing.

A family secret like the one this family has might be considered a burden or possibly one of the best things to ever happen, yet there is a moment of disbelief in the book that bends the story a bit so that it almost breaks.  Throughout the course of the tale, Braydon, the eldest son, and Morgan, his sister, do battle with an evil organisation that would see them and the entire family dead.  Of course they fight back as is only natural, but they do not know how they are doing what they are doing when fighting off the enemy, only that they are able to do so.  In the last issue as Morgan is battling with an enemy ninja, it is chalked up to skills passed down through the ages like ‘muscle memory.’  Just because they have a centuries old lineage, it does not mean that the skills their forbears learned will be passed down.  If they were magical in nature, perhaps, but it was pretty weak to chalk their abilities simply to DNA.

Even after that, as hard as it is to believe, it did not take away from the story so much to make it unenjoyable.  Wohl is an excellent writer as proven over the years on multiple titles and this series was in fact quite light-hearted  and a lot of fun, especially when comparing it to many of its peers.  The characters are likeable and the family dynamic is great and really hooks you in.  It remains to be seen where they go from here, but it was left open for the evil ninja clan to make a comeback.  There is room for improvement of course, and seeing as how the book ended with a promise for more, let us hope that they do just that.

3.5 out of 5

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