This weekend at New York Comic Con, Valiant Digital and Bat in the Sun debuted a teaser trailer for a forthcoming project titled Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe.
The first officially-sanctioned live-action adaptation of Valiant properties, the series goes all-in, with the 90-second teaser trailer featuring at least five Valiant heroes and one major villain besides the titular Ninjak.
Of course, Valiant isn't Marvel or DC. For the most part, casual fans and non-comic book readers don't know the characters of the Valiant Universe like they do the bigger superhero worlds.
Valiant hopes to fix that, in part by bringing not only Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe to the web, but by releasing feature films based on Bloodshot, Harbinger, X-O Manowar, Shadowman, and Archer & Armstrong, at least.
That's great, but those are coming way down the line at this point, and for many fans, their first taste of the Valiant Universe might be when Ninjak...umm...fights it in 2017.
That's alright: ComicBook.com is here to give you a quick and dirty guide to the characters we spotted in the Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe trailer. If we missed any, feel free to chime in below.
The first familiar face we see in the trailer -- probably logically -- is Ninjak (played by Arrow's Michael Rowe).
Ninjak is an MI-6 weapons specialist named Colin King, the son of a wealthy spy who was raised in Asia but went back to the U.K. after his father's death. He trained and ultimately became one of the greatest fighters in the world, typically depicted as being rivaled by only a few, most of whom have powers.
In the comics, he's been known to fight powerhouses like Bloodshot and X-O Manowar to a standstill.
The premise of the series appears to be that he'll be doing battle with numerous heroes and villains from around the Valiant Universe, who are likely somehow under the control of Roku, his arch-nemesis who was seen later in the trailer.
Former Mighty Morphin Power Rangers standout Jason David Frank appears throughout the trailer as Bloodshot. It's not immediately clear whether Bloodshot is a major player in the series -- his series actually featured the first appearance of Ninjak in the '90s -- or whether they're just trading on how popular and recognizable "JDF" is, especially with the crowd at Comic Con, where this trailer debuted.
What we do see is some pretty badass shooting, fighting, and...well, Deadpool-style healing.
Yeah, Bloodshot is a soldier whose memory was wiped out and body enhanced when he was injected with nanites that help him to be stronger, faster, smarter, and help his body to recover from injuries small and large. He's a hard guy to keep down, with most of his real weaknesses being mental rather than physical (exploiting his damaged/missing memories, for instance).
As you can probably tell from the trailers, Livewire is a young, African-American woman (played by Ciera Foster) who has electrical powers.
Created by comics legends Jim Shooter and David Lapham, Livewire was a fixture in the '90s version of Harbinger, and appeared in the 2012 reboot as well. She would go on to be the most visible Harbinger representative in Valiant's team-up book, Unity.
Orphaned at a young age, Amanda McKee was taken in by Toyo Harada and ultimately became fiercely devoted to the mission of the Harbinger Foundation. She nevertheless aided Peter Stanchek in his escape from Harada, feeling it was the right thing, and was taken out of action by Harada after those events for a time, until he decided to use her for the Unity project to bring X-O Manowar under control. After she briefly bonded with the X-O Manowar armor, she realized the true extent of Harada's duplicity and left him to stand alongside Ninjak, X-O, and others.
Gilad Ani-Padda is the first of three immortal brothers who have played a major role in the history of the Valiant Universe: The Eternal Warrior.
His brothers Aram (Armstrong) and Ivar (Timewalker) don't always see eye to eye with Gilad's no-nonsense way of doing things, but he has been at the center of numerous key moments in world history since the day in in the ancient city-state of Ur that he was murdered, and his brothers used a powerful device known as The Boon to resurrect him. The resulting explosion (The Boon wasn't exactly stable) ended up giving each of the three brothers powers and immortality.
Gilad is more or less, as his name implies, a warrior. He's an incredibly skilled fighter and tactician, and has been at the center of numerous key battles during his thousands of years of life.
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG
Eternal Warrior's brother Aram turned out to be kind of the black sheep of the family. A layabout who used his immortality to drink himself stupid, have wild adventures and a lot of sex, and stay as far away from world-saving as he could, he ultimately became the target of a cult who believed him to be the antichrist.
One member of that cult was Obadiah Archer, the son of its leaders, who has the ability to successfully mimic and memorize physical actions, from playing the piano to advanced martial arts. A fight scene between Archer and Ninjak, thenw, should be a pretty interesting one -- but something that relies primarily on Ninjak pulling surprises out of his bag of tricks so that Archer is caught off-balance and can't figure out a good counter to the fighting style.
Armstrong, meanwhile, is basically just strong and invulnerable. It's harder to picture him putting up a huge fight against Ninjak, as his strategy would likely be to just overwhelm the opponent out of the gate. He does, however, have a bottomless, magical bag of tricks...!
Aric of Dacia, heir to the throne of the Visigoth people, battled against the Roman Empire for the early part of his life, before rather unexpectedly being kidnapped by an alien race known as The Vine and forced into slavery in space. After years in captivity, Aric led a rebellion against The Vine, storming their temple and stealing Shanhara, a sentient armor, to which he bonded. The powerful relic allowed him to defeat The Vine and force them to return him -- but due to hyperspace travel and relative time, he was returned hundreds of years after he left, to the modern day.
In the series, he's played by Baby Daddy's Derek Theler, who we see a few times in the trailer -- both as Aric and as his armored superhero persona, X-O Manowar.
We only see X-O briefly, in a CG shot of him flying in the armor, but it's one of the big reveals of the trailer. In the current iteration of the comics, a battle between Ninjak and X-O was one of the big moments of the first arc of Unity, when Aric and his people tried to retake a small nation that had belonged to them in the past and had to be brought to heel by a team of Valiant heroes.
Last but not least: the villain of the piece.
Chantelle Barry plays Roku, one of Ninjak’s most dangerous nemeses, who was introduced in Ninjak #4.
When she was first introduced, Roku was introduced as an aide to Kannon in the Weaponeer organization. Besides her mastery of martial arts, she’s got both mental powers — she can telpathically interfere with opponents’ combat — and some nifty biological additions to boot. Everything about her — down to her hair — can be used as a weapon.
With Roku involved with the story, it throws some clarity into those “Ninjak battles other heroes” rumors. She’s the kind of master manipulator who not only has a mean-on for Ninjak personally but could easily be working behind the scenes to ruin his life.