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Ninja’s comic book turns Tyler Blevins into digital Jesus

What if Tron, but anime?

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Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, with his magical headband HB, inside the world of Ketterung. From Ninja: The Most Dangerous Game comic. Ten Speed Press
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Professional gamer, Mixer personality, and Fortnite star Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is expanding his dominion. His publishing career began earlier this year with a book of gaming tips. Now he’s pushing into the world of comics with Ninja: The Most Dangerous Game. I read it, so now you don’t have to.

Blevins is listed as co-author along with industry veteran Justin Jordan, while newcomer Felipe Magaña handles the art. In actuality, it’s Magaña’s work that stands out the most. The lavish 144-page paperback first edition is colorful, the action is fluid, and the characters are distinct and expressive. It’s much better than the glorified storyboards I was expecting.

The story itself, however, is derivative at best.

Once upon a time, Blevins and a handful of his streamer super friends all receive mysterious packages on their doorsteps. Inside the package is a controller, which quickly turns into a robot, crawls onto their wrists, and teleports them out of the real world. When they wake up, they’re trapped on the Grid... sorry, The Game. It’s a 100-player, melee focused battle royale game called Ketterung where everyone dresses in pastel jumpsuits and fights with swords.

Ten Speed Press via Amazon

There’s just a few caveats to Ketterung, of course. First, when you die in the game you’re banished to a kind of digital purgatory outside of the real world and the game world as well, never to return. Even more concerning, however, is the fact that Ketterung isn’t a game at all, but a recruitment tool. It’s ruled over by a powerful warlord named Strigus Thule who uses it to create a monster powered up by bloodlust and the mystical energy released with each kill. The winner of this particular match will lead Thule’s forces in the subjugation of our Earth.

While one of Blevins’ pals starts killing people for fun — basically, playing the game — Ninja refuses. His anti-violent message is broadcast across a thousand worlds, each of which erupts in violent rebellion against Thule’s forces. At the novel’s climax, Blevins gives his own life to save the life of another, only to be reborn into the world of Ketterung, rescued from purgatory by a skilled engineer.

I almost forgot! Blevins’ special helper is a sentient headband, named HB, that works like Indiana Jones’ whip as played by The Incredibles’ mom, Elastigirl. It looks nothing like his official headband, now on sale at your local Walmart.

Amazon lists Ninja: The Most Dangerous Game as suitable for 12-year-olds, or those in grade seven to nine. I’d say that’s probably a bit too high. If you’re alright with Power Rangers-style violence, there’s nothing here that would prevent a smart eight-year-old from enjoying themselves for a few hours. The book goes on sale Dec. 3, and sells for a cover price of $16.99.