I hate newspaper comic strips with ongoing storylines. How anyone can follow an arc of Spider-Man over the course of four months is beyond me. My opinion of webcomics is about the same: anything with a continuous thread more than five panels long gets on my nerves. Thankfully, Dark Horse Books has been compiling some of the most prolific webcomics into hefty printed volumes, the latest of which is Christopher Hastings’ The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Night Powers, which debuted at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.
Dr. McNinja has been around the interwebs for several years now, but all you have to know when picking up this volume is that the main character is both a doctor and a ninja. If you can wrap your head around this concept, Hastings does rather well taking it from there.
Night Powers contains three full-length features – “Monster Mart,” “Death Volley,” and “Doc Gets Rad” – that were originally posted on DrMcNinja.com from 2008 to 2009. These stories marked the comic’s foray into full-colour. Carly Monardo and Anthony Clark add a bright and vibrant palette to the already colourful world penned and pencilled by Hastings.
Dr. McNinja is a shining example of modern, offbeat internet humour. “Random” is probably the way to describe its stories and characters, although that doesn’t give enough credit to Hastings. The one-liners are hilarious and the timing is exquisite, even with the online format’s requirements for roughly one punch-line per page (one per post, of course). The only constants throughout the volume are the machinations of King Radical, a totally-not-Burger-King who rides a sweet motorcycle, and cameos by dinosaurs.
Most exciting for longtime McNinja readers is the preview story called “Beyond Winter Wonderdome” by Tick team Benito Cereno and Les McClaine. TCAF visitors will appreciate the Doctor’s foray into Canada and an Alpha Flight-ish comedy troupe, including a young woman who apparently is the manifestation of those Canada Heritage Moment videos. Couple that with Canuck cartooner Kate Beaton’s introduction comic, and you’ve got a volume bookended by some awesome northerners.
Night Powers stars a lethal doctor not seen since the likes of Autobot Ratchet. It’s in full colour. It has a motorcycle with a rainbow on the outside and the soul of a unicorn on the inside. If that doesn’t make your decision on whether to pick it up, I’m not sure what else I can tell you.