Ninjasaur is a book that knows what it is: an action-packed series made to entertain without any lessons or ulterior motives. The premise — a ninja plus a dinosaur — is awesome, simple and fun. And the characters are entertaining and colorful making the comic perfect for kids.
Ninjasaur Volume 1 by Jason Horn introduces Ninjasaur, a stegosaurus ninja who fights evil and who sometimes just wants to watch TV. His first battle involves a confrontation with a Ninjazi (yes that’s a Nazi who is also a Ninja). The series introduces all sorts of weird characters making it feel almost like Axe Cop in its randomness, though much more constrained. A more apt comparison might be the other ninja-based series, Dr. McNinja (which is far less kid friendly). Ninjasaur has a lightness to it, making even the violence tolerable for youngsters. When Ninjasaur kills Ninjazi, it isn’t incredibly visceral (though when I was reading the Ninjasaur after a bunch of Spider-man comics, the sudden death of a bad guy did shock me a bit).
The book, which collects the stories in a different order than on the website, does eventually start building to a storyline dealing with magic, time travel and science, but the stories primarily work as standalone pieces, which is fine for the first volume. There isn’t a need to build anything yet.
An issue, maybe, for younger readers, is the vocabulary, particularly with Professor Deadbones and his time-bullets. Deadbones uses some big words, so if your child isn’t the most accomplished reader, give him or her a dictionary or read along with them. We could call this one a third-grade level comic.
My one other minor issue with the book is its thick spine, due partially to the thickness of the paper. The quality is actually fantastic for a book for younger readers, but since the pages don’t fully open without cracking the spine, panels can get lost near the fold. It is a problem that can be overlooked, but it is something I’ve seen a few times with books of this type.