I guess I haven't talked about The Adventures of Dr. McNinja here before, judging by its lack of a label (and none for Chris Hastings either? Did I really not start with the regular use of creator labels until after that Deadpool Annual?). There's no time like the present to rectify that, although starting with the 4th print collection, King Radical, is not ideal. But I hardly ever get around to reviewing trades, anyway.
At this point, King Radical's been an adversary of the doctor's for a while, even though a) most of the Doc's friends are on board with the King's plans to make the world a more awesome place through small business initiatives, and b) the two were forced to team up in a dystopian future where dinosaurs from another planet had conquered humanity. Which sounds pretty radical but, I guess King Radical only enjoys things that are radical that put him in charge. Much like how Darkseid wouldn't be cool with anyone else using the Anti-Life Equation to establish control over all beings in the universe, including him.
Also, the last, desperate attempt of humanity to regain their freedom did result in a pretty cool battle. Which is why you should purchase Timefist, the volume before this one!
Anyway, there's a lot of fighting, surprise reveals, random subplots involving the the McNinja family and evil teachers out to harvest souls that have almost no connection whatsoever to the main story, and we finally learn King Radical's true plan. Which, I realize now is entirely laid one in one of the pages I was gonna to post here, and I might as well not spoil the surprise (to the extent I can do that for a story that was originally posted as a webcomic and finished months ago). Damn, I really wanted to use that to make a joke about whether Claremontian levels of expository dialogue was radical*.
Since Hastings includes some sort of alt-text comment with each page when he posts it, those are included at the bottom of each page in the print version. They might get the biggest laughs from me, between the ones where he chastises himself for the designs of some of his radical characters, to his mention of there being so many violent doctors in the story. I want to see him make good on his boast that he will draw anything in a mask wearing a lab coat. I want Ski Robot and its ski mask to be more than something made up by Gordito's imagination, so we get Dr. McSkiRobot (beep boop)! All the mask-wearing, lab coat-attired weirdos we can get.
There are a few places where it seems like Hastings reuses particular poses for a certain character (there's one of McNinja's father that pops up twice, once as he's walking away from a bridge inside a volcano, and against as he prepares to fight doctor blocking the highway with a tank). I don't know if he did use the image twice, or if it was just a good stance to use that he could draw readily. It did seem appropriate for the character. It's not a major complaint, because it doesn't come up often, just something I noticed. He does an excellent job some extremely creepy and unsavory looking guys in this volume, between a couple of teachers and some of Radical's gang. They're just kind of unsettling in some way, like you wouldn't want to be in an elevator alone with them. They'd smell bad, and be kind of sweaty looking. Ech.
He's also very good at drawing extremely happy people, maybe because he goes for really exaggerated looks of happiness. Doc's joy at the end of this volume is clear even though you can only see his eyes. Maybe it was how he was slappin' dudes. The fight scenes are typically good, though it's better when he sticks to one-on-one fights. The more characters involved, the more things kind of bog down. Maybe how much they stop to talk becomes more noticeable? I shouldn't criticize that, I guess. My characters stop to talk all the time during fights, but there was something about the Doc/Old/Gordito/Hortense fight that just didn't flow as well as the brief fight with the gorilla in the forest. Not enough room in the panels perhaps. Hastings is definitely trying to give people some bang for the buck on most every page, and I'd certainly count King Radical as a success.
I'm curious to see if the fallout from something Doc's mother told his younger brother, about how Doc missed the point of being a ninja entirely (because of how they tried to get him to focus on training). He's been obsessed with stopping Radical, even when everyone else has urged him to knock it off. So far, he's avoided letting it cost him, but he's cut it real close. Not to mention he's basically abandoned his practice, and we've seen that he's one of the only doctors - maybe the only one - qualified to handle some of the strange cases that occur in his hometown. He might argue he's trying to save a lot of lives, and he might be right, but it's unclear if he's done anything but delay the inevitable.
* The answer is no, but it's necessary sometimes, because we don't live in a radical land. Mundane things are still integral here.