At one point or another, every gamer has secretly dreamed of being transported to a video game world. In his first foray into graphic novels, streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins shows how disastrous that dream can be.
Ninja: The Most Dangerous Game manages to weave an adventurous but predictable story that will entertain the younger sector of Ninja’s devoted fan base. Older fans would be much better off checking out Ninja’s surprisingly helpful book on gaming.
The Most Dangerous Game, penned by Ninja and comic writer Justin Jordan, focuses around a mysterious battle royale game that becomes popular overnight. No, it’s not Fortnite, but some of the references to the game are heavy-handed. After acquiring fame by playing the game, Ninja is sent a mysterious controller that transports him into the battle royale itself. It’s up to him to find a way to survive without losing his own humanity.
Much like any battle royale, the goal is to be the last player standing. Anyone who’s mortally injured becomes “ghosted” and sent to a purgatory between their home world and the game. It’s a fun way to get around people actually dying. It turns out that the games are a spectacle for an evil dictator, Strigus Thune, and viewers across the universe are forced to watch.
Within the battle royale, Ninja has to contend with backstabbing friends and players only out for power. To any adult, the eventual plot twists are predictable and, quite frankly, pretty ridiculous. The cocky, jealous gamer ends up the villain. The character worried about her family becomes the morally gray side-switcher. Ninja, of course, becomes the hero.
Any adult who’s ever read The Hunger Games knows exactly how this widely-televised battle royale becomes a revolution with a lot of big words and little plot development.
That said, the message of doing the right thing despite the draw of ultimate power is a good one for young fans. Ninja’s character and a few of his gamer friends are turned into stereotypical archetypes, but the best stories lie beyond the streamer himself. The mysterious character Zephyr, originally presented as some form of game artificial intelligence, develops the most interesting and surprising character arc throughout the story.
The highlight of the book beyond Zephyr’s storyline is, by far, the art by Felipe Magaña. The artist creates a fast-paced, colorful story while expressing the emotions of the characters far better than the written plot does. Certain wide panels and close-up, emotional shots are genuinely breathtaking.
As one of the most popular streamers in the world with over 22 million subscribers on YouTube and millions more on Mixer, Ninja is capitalizing on that audience with The Most Dangerous Game. Young fans, especially those who idolize their favorite streamer, would be delighted with this graphic novel. Despite being light on plot and heavy on Ninja’s cool factor, it’s a quick romp through an exciting universe.
Ninja: The Most Dangerous Game is available online and in bookstores as of Dec. 3. It’s the first in a line of planned graphic novels from Ninja.