Eric Palicki and Lucas Meyer’s Ninja Kaidan aims to reinvent the martial arts-meets-supernatural subgenre. Published by BlackBox Comics, the book promises all the hacking, slashing, and spooky goodness that fans’ hearts could desire. The upcoming series will follow a young martial artist named Yuki Snow as he struggles to run his deceased father’s company, investigates a mysterious suit of armor with paranormal powers, and fights all manner of formidable adversaries.
Ahead of the release of Ninja Kaidan #1 on Wednesday, July 27, CBR spoke with Palicki about this new series. He discussed how he and Meyer designed the hero’s suit, as well as the comic book and films that inspired the story. He also explained how he sees cats as the secret ninjas of the animal world.
CBR: Loosely translated from Japanese, kaidan refers to a ghost story. Judging by the first issue of Ninja Kaidan, it’s clear that apparitions will play a central role in the story. Are the figurative ghosts of Yuki’s past more dangerous than the entities in front of him?
Eric Palicki: Absolutely. The elevator pitch for this book would be “ninja versus ghosts,” but we mean it in both a literal and figurative sense. And it’s not so much the ghosts of Yuki’s own past as those of his father’s of him.
Yuki’s father appeared to be a man of secrets, and the same seems to be true of his son. As a ninja who’s supposed to operate in secrecy and the shadows, can the audience trust that Yuki is who he says he is?
Yuki has the best intentions, but to answer your question with a question, how does a man who has been trained from birth in the arts of subterfuge and assassination transcend that training and show himself to be a good man? And what even constitutes “goodness” to a trained killer?
What other stories did you look to for inspiration?
Shane Black’s screenplays of the era, such as Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, and Long Kiss Goodnightover-the-top martial arts action [movies] like Kickboxer, Marked for Deathand Showdown in Little Tokyoas well as early Image Comics, Frank Miller’s Sin Cityand manga like Lone Wolf and Cub. Much more recently, Ninja Assassin.
One of the best moments in the first issue is when Marybeth explains to Yuki that his suit uses technology inspired by cats and their ability to see what isn’t there. Is this something that you believe in personally?
I’m not sure I believe in ghosts, but cats are mysterious, murderous little beasts — and my furry guy Jerry is sitting on my lap [right now]. Basically, cats are the ninjas of the animal kingdom. And if any animal possesses the secret knowledge about ghosts, it’s got to be cats, right?
What else can you tell fans about Marybeth as a character and her role in the story?
Marybeth is a true believer with brains, and as such, she’s both Yuki’s confidant and his quartermaster. Yuki’s father and Marybeth were the only ones who truly believed in ghosts and in what the Kaidan armor project sought to accomplish. So Marybeth is Yuki’s only living link to his father’s legacy from him.
Artist Lucas Meyer certainly knows how to make an action scene come to life. Which of his previous works by him convinced you he was the right artist for this project?
Full credit to BlackBox publisher Dimitrios Zaharakis for finding Lucas! That said, I agree completely. Lucas is going places. I wo n’t be surprised to see his name gracing a Big Two book in the future.
There’s certainly an Iron Man-meets-XO Manowar quality to Yuki’s suit. What was the idea behind the suit when you and Lucas were designing it?
I think it’s more a sense of having a common inspiration. In our case, we leaned more into samurai armor, given Yuki’s martial arts background. Unlike the suits you mentioned, Yuki’s armor doesn’t impart its wearer with special abilities beyond how it interacts with ghosts, which is our big science-fictional concept. Given the peace we’re about to put Yuki through, I’m sure he’ll wish the armor gave him better superpowers.
Are there any plans to expand the Ninja Kaidan universe, or is this the intention to keep this as a standalone tale?
Without spoiling too much, there are some other characters in upcoming issues who could absolutely support their own stories, and the mythology we’re building certainly (hopefully) opens up the world for further exploration.
BlackBox’s Ninja Kaidan #1 arrives in stores on Wednesday, July 27, from BlackBox Comics.
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