Rogers Beausoleil: Script and Layout. Nathalie Lagace: Inks. Nelson Joly: Letter (sic).
Editions RGB, 1988.
Sometimes the only appropriate response to a thing like this is internet snark.
Quite obviously published during the height of the black-and-white boom-and-bust, it’s hard to tell how much a shoddy piece of junk like this was published out of sheer creative enthusiasm, and how much of it was mercenary. I’ll give you the facts, and you decide.
1) The publisher — Editions R.G.B — only published one other issue of one other comic that I could find sign of: Heralds of Canada. Astoundingly, they also had a US branch called Quebec Comics. All for 2 issues.
2) That is one seriously stealthy ninja outfit on the cover. If you ever need someone on the Canadian Olympic ski team assassinated, this is the guy to call.
3) On the inside front cover there are a bunch of synopses. At first, I thought they must have been for other RGB titles on the stands at the same time, but they are actually for each subsequent issue of this series! (Which of course never appeared anyway.)
4) There is hardly a single sentence in the issue that doesn’t have grammatical or spelling errors (even on the cover!). This is one of the main impressions I left with. The writer obviously did not speak English as a first language. I’m assuming he speaks French. Why didn’t he write it in French? He has so much pride in being Canadian (apparently), why not have pride in his language as well? Did he think the French kids would prefer their comics in English? But then different people don’t screw up language in the same way, so it would be even more unintelligible to another French person. Why didn’t the inker or the goddamn letterer say something about it? Or maybe the writer didn’t give a shit about Canada but was hoping to exploit patriotic consumers. Weirdly, the word “Japanese” is spelled “Japenese” every time, whereas the French word would be “Japonaise” — so where did he get his spelling from?
5) It starts in 1964. A Canadian plane crashes near Kagoshima and everyone dies but one boy. Some Kagoshima residents — who dress like Vietnamese — rescue him. Several months later the Japanese family has “in secret looked after him during the investigation, decides to adopt the young Bo.” Because, you know, that’s what families in Kagoshima do. They secretly abduct crash survivors for no reason and are then able to legally adopt them.
6) The family then trains Bo to be a ninja. Because, you know, that’s what families in Kagoshima did in 1964 with their abducted babies.
7) Meanwhile Bo’s adoptive dad fears “an invasion by Lotan, master of evil.” Who is this Lotan? We’re not told any more than that, but guessing by his name, he’s not Japanese, so I’m not sure what he’s doing here.
8 ) I’m only up to page 2, by the way.
9) Page 3: Lotan’s ninjas attack and Bo’s Dad is killed. As he dies, Dad tells Bo to return to Canada — “Lotan will meet you there for the final battle!” How Dad knew this, I do not know. Doesn’t matter though, ‘cause Bo just up and absorbed his Dad’s spirit, which is bad ass.
10) Here’s what happens with Dad’s killer. He says: “Don’t move or… Lotan don’’t want you die, he just want your master. But one day might be yours, young ninja, if you won’t join us close to the master of evil!” Then: “with an energy exhalation from his own body, the Lotan’s ninja disappeared.” You know, it actually reminds me of badly subtitled ninja movies. Could it be that… Nnnnaaaaahhh…
11) On the flight over, Bo accidentally bumps into a hot girl — uh oh!
12) Cut to some kind of shady business deal in a limo? I’m not actually sure what’s happening in this scene. The villain does not speak English (he speaks an unidentified Eastern European-looking language, the translations are in captions), but it seems he wants his chauffeur to pay some guy, WHILE they’re driving down the street?
13) Turns out Bo is a comic artist in addition to being a ninja?!?! Or maybe this is just a line he uses to pick up the chick. Anyway they speak for five seconds, her thought balloon tells us she finds him attractive, and he then asks her to show him around Montreal. Fast, very fast.
14) Then there’s some kind of attempted sniping on someone involving the limo guy. This was so badly written and drawn, I couldn’t even tell who was doing what or why.
15) Bo and Francesca chat then kiss. The caption informs us: “After a few time that, they only look one another… Cupidon hits!”
16) Apparently the sniper was shooting some ninja — WHAT THE FUCK???!!!
17) Some fake military dudes show up to kidnap Francesca (her father’s a general). Bo fights them. In a thought balloon, while being slugged in the gut by Bo, one of them thinks: “No human being can move so fast! How can he do it?” Not fast enough apparently, since this guy was able to think all this stuff while getting thumped.
18) Then, “The sham sergeant attempts an ultimate attack.” Which turns out to be an ordinary punch in the jaw.
19) Have I mentioned how fucking ugly the art is? It’s fucking ugly. In one panel Bo and Francesca look like praying mantises.
20) Page 16: Well, just look at the scan. It speaks for itself
21) Francesca’s quote upon being reunited with her father: “Father! You miss me and I love you!”
22) After the failed kidnapping, the villain instructs his man to spy on Bo: “Spy on him! But won’t come back with your hand off, we should know who is it, where he from and what he do! It is capital to keep… the WATO’s life! [World-Wide Apocalypse Terrorist Organization] Too, you should kill the two other agents before theirs questioning. One week again and, I will rule the North America! The Canada and the United States even won’t be something with that! They just will die!”
23) And I am confident to say, without snark, that I really hardly had a fucking clue what was going on in this comic at any given time.
Kumar Sivasubramanian is the writer of Weird Crime Theater.
6 thoughts on “REVIEW: Canadian Ninja #1”
Amazing. I ended up here because i’m french canadian and did remember reading a black and white comic about ninjas some time in the late 80’s so i made a search for it. Thing is…I don’t even think that was the one cause the one i read was in french. UNLESS they actually ALSO published this in french? Well who knows, with more panel scans i might have been able to tell for sure if that was the one. The one i read i remember DID have clunky art. Maybe the same writer wrote other Ninja comics in french and this one was his attempt to “break into” the anglo market?
Anyway, i’m sure glad i got to find out about this review. And yeah it’s full of bad word for word translations. Like in french we say Tu m’a manquer for i missed you. Literally this would be something like you were missing to me but word for word of course an idiot would translate this to you missed me. Also, in french we always put le or la in front of a country’s name (“left for the canada”). “Meanwhile” in french is “pendant ce temps” hence, word for word “during this time”, etc.
It’s pathetic, i can actually HEAR the writer’s voice and thick quebecois accent as i read it. So sad. And since this was published by a quebecois publisher, i don’t think they were likely any better at understanding the language. The writer probably assured them he was perfectly bilingual…and i bet he believed it too.
Hey, Milk! Thanks for the comments. This comic was hilarious in it awfulness. And despite it, it did inspire me to one day write either NEW BRUNSWICK NINJA or even FREDERICTON NINJA.
I have a French language copy of this. Got it off the newsstand when I was visiting Canada as a kid. Mine’s NM. I bought it as a souvenir of my visit… and not to read.
Thanks for the interesting historical detail, themilford! It’s making the whole story of this thing even more interesting and weird!
Thanks for the review and scans. There is a copy for sale on eBay and I was just wondering if I should buy it. Probably not, it’s Canadian comic historical and quirky but… wow!? : (
Tim, if it’s only a couple of bucks and you like comic book oddities I would definitely recommend it!