Saturday, March 27, 2010

Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja (Marvel, 1989-90)

I read, collected and enjoyed this title immensely during my high school days. It's a surreal little slice of bat-shit insane science fiction with some great art by Ron Wagner. Thanks to Zen Tiger for the scans...

From Wikipedia:

Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja is a comic book about an American ninja set in an unspecified near future where World War III has started. It was written by Larry Hama between 1989 and 1990, based largely on his success writing the G.I.Joe: A Real American Hero comic, which he wrote concurrently with The Nth Man (and also features a modern ninja as one of the main characters). Nth Man and Alfie O'Meagan first appeared in Marvel Comics Presents #25 (August 1989).

The series starts in medias res with American soldiers parachuting into war-torn Moscow in an attempt to rescue the Nth Man. Using TV news commentary as a plot exposition device, it is revealed that the war was caused by Alfie using his psychic abilities to neutralise all nuclear weapons on the planet and upsetting the balance of power.

As the story progresses, we learn that Alfie has grown up in an orphanage alongside John Doe (the "Nth Man" of the title). Doe was adopted by an elderly Japanese man who worked for the CIA's "Black Ops" division. Doe was raised as a ninja, taught to kill without regret.

While in the orphanage, O'Meagan had visions of possible futures (the "could-be's") and over time, his powers grew so that he was able to control matter and produce other effects that were against the physical laws of the universe.

The story has numerous twists and turns, as Alfie gains vast power while losing his sanity. When the Soviet Union launches biological weapons, Alfie's attempt to turn them harmless backfires. Using a narrative jump of one year (which was forced upon writer Larry Hama in order to wrap up the story, due to the cancellation of the series), we see that the biological weapons were turned into a mutagenic virus, and millions are transformed into psychotic, cannibalistic "moots".

The storyline is complex, following numerous characters through war zones, plague-ridden post-Apocalyptic landscapes, inside a video game, alien worlds, and various points in time and space. The conclusion of the story makes use of a paradox and Doe and O'Meagan are shown to be responsible for their own origins.

Issues #1-#9

Issues #10- #13

Issues #14- #16

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