|"That's not what happened at all!"
The Challenge of Samukai is a LEGO Ninjago book that was released in 2011 and the first volume of the Ninjago graphic novel series.
The "Masters of Spinjitzu" come to Papercutz in their first graphic novel appearance written by Greg Farshtey, the hit force behind the LEGO BIONICLE series.
Under the tutelage of their master Sensei Wu, the "chosen four" ninjas Kai, Jay, Cole, and Zane must learn to use their elemental powers of fire, ice, lightning and earth. Their mission: defeat Sensei Wu’s evil brother Garmadon and his army of skeleton warriors before they can take over the world!
A fatal gambit!
Sensei Wu has trained Cole, Zane, Jay, and Kai to be Masters of Spinjitzu, and together they defend the world of Ninjago from the dark forces of the Underworld. But when Samukai boasts that he can defeat Sensei Wu and his four young ninja, Garmadon takes him up on his bet!
The Wager, Part One
Samukai is sitting on his throne, thinking about how he believes that if Garmadon was not involved, the Skeleton Army could have easily conquered Ninjago. All of a sudden, Garmadon appears behind him, insulted by the accusation that he is slowing them down. Samukai and Garmadon begin arguing, and Garmadon offers a bet; if Samukai is able to wipe out the Ninja and Wu, then he will rule over Ninjago with Garmadon as a subordinate. However, if he fails, Garmadon will be the ruler of both Ninjago and the Underworld, and Samukai must leave Ninjago forever.
After a bit of convincing, as well as a mention of their initial meeting, Samukai agrees to the bet. Samukai leaves to retrieve Kruncha, Nuckal, and Krazi, and Garmadon thinks about how easy it will be for him to win. However, Samukai thinks the same, and they both challenge the Ninja in their minds.
Samukai thinks back to the origins of the Golden Weapons, as well as Garmadon and Wu.
Thousands of years ago, the First Spinjitzu Master created the Four Golden Weapons. After his death, he entrusted them to his sons, Garmadon and Wu. However, Garmadon wanted the Four Weapons for himself, and they began fighting. Wu won, and banished Garmadon to the Underworld.
Wu became a hero in Ninjago, fighting for justice. He hid away the Golden Weapons, knowing they were too powerful to be wielded by anybody. However, one day, he detected Garmadon in the Underworld, and knew that he had allied with the Skeleton Army. He tried to stop them, but even he could not be everywhere at once, and he needed help. He decided to recruit a team of Ninja, finding Cole, Zane, and Jay.
Kai and Nya, siblings, ran a blacksmith shop in a small village. One day, their village was attacked by Skeletons, and enraged, Kai tried to fight them off. However, while he was distracted with the fighting, the Skeletons were able to kidnap his sister Nya, and brought her to the Underworld.
Later, Wu explained to Kai the reason behind the attack. Kai's father had made a map for Wu, detailing the locations of the Four Golden Weapons, and it was hidden in the blacksmith shop. The Skeletons had stolen it. Wu offered for Kai to join his Ninja team, as a means of saving his sister. Kai agreed, and began training with Wu.
Over time, Kai trained with Wu directly and in a training arena, and his final test came. He had to fight Jay, Cole, and Zane, and he had to succeed. In the end, he did, and he became a full-fledged Ninja of Fire. The other three became full Ninja as well, becoming the Ninja of Lightning, Earth, and Ice respectively.
Samukai finished reading over the history of the Ninja. He decided he would strike at Kai, somebody who held his friends very close to his heart, and a weakness that was easy to exploit.
Nuckal and Kruncha were waiting near the Ninja's campsite. They were going to lead Kai to the Crystal Cave. Nuckal ran at the Ninja, startling him and causing him to follow. He ran towards the Crystal Cave, and though Kai remembered Wu's warning to avoid it, he decided to follow. Suddenly, Kai got dizzy, and lost track of Nuckal. He decided to give up the chase and return to the campsite.
However, when he returned to the campsite, the other Ninja attacked him. He tried to convince them that he was Kai, but they didn't believe him, and even Wu told him that such a simple trick would not work. Confused, Kai managed to escape in a river, and noticed in his reflection that he looked like a Skeleton.
He decided to return to his hometown, hoping that somebody there would recognize him and be able to help. However, they all saw a Skeleton, and threw things at him until he ran away. One of the villagers told Kai to "go back to where he belongs", and it gave him an idea - to return to the Crystal Cave.
On his way back, however, the other Ninja spotted him. Kai fought off the attack for the rest of the day, and finally managed to flee back to the Cave. Quickly dispatching of Nuckal, he reentered the Cave, and the Ninja followed him. He started feeling dizzy again, and managed to escape through the ceiling before the other Ninja saw him.
They followed him through the hole, and were glad to see him again. However, when Kai turned around, he just saw three Skeletons. And so, he had to explain what had happened to the other Ninja.
A Choice of Dooms
Samukai has captured Jay and Kai, and it's up to Cole to save them. He must pick between two doors, one of them containing his friends, and the other containing certain doom. Cole threatens to use Spinjitzu and attack Samukai, but he just laughs it off and points out that that wouldn't save the Ninja.
Cole enters the cave, and looks down the two paths. One path contains a giant wolf, and the other contains 100 swinging axes. To try and pick a path, he thinks back to training he did the day before with Wu.
Wu tells Cole to follow the northern path, and when he reaches the first fork, to read the first line in a scroll. He reads the scroll, which informs him that bandits have stolen treasure and he must follow them. He follows the path with deeper tracks, assuming that the treasure must have been gold or jewels.
After walking for hours, he finds a new note. The note informs him that he chose the incorrect path, and that not all treasure is heavy; the bandits had stolen a book of knowledge. He is informed that the bandits have now crossed a river. He must now decide between descending a hill and crossing it, or going across from above.
He decides to go above by throwing a rope on a passing dragon hawk and flying across. However, he worries about a surprise alluded to in the scroll. When he reaches the other side, he lets go of the rope, catching himself with Spinjitzu and landing safely. He is then ambushed by the bandits, and must fight them off.
However, Samukai had gotten wind of Cole's test. He decided to kidnap Kai and Jay, and give Cole a true test of choices. Cole beat the bandits, but before he could read the next note, he was interrupted by Samukai. He informed Cole that he had kidnapped Kai and Jay, and told him to come by the cave the next day.
And so Cole had to pick a path, either a giant wolf or 100 swinging axes. While contemplating the two choices, he noticed that flies were flying around the axes, and realized that the axes were made of sugar. He picked the correct path, and was successful in saving Kai and Jay.
His friends fought off the Skeleton Soldiers, and Cole went up against Samukai. However, before he could reach him, Samukai returned to the Underworld. The Ninja returned to camp, with Cole wondering if he had passed Wu's test.
The four Ninja are planning a trap for the Skeletons. However, as they are planning it, Kruncha is in the bushes, spying. He reports the information back to Samukai. Kruncha reports that the Ninja are going to tell people that Wu will be meditating next to Katana River. Then, when the Skeletons arrive to attack him, they will ambush them. Samukai decides instead to spring the trap on the Ninja, turning the tables.
Cole and Kai finish their plan, and go their separate ways. Jay is standing guard, when he is suddenly ambushed by Wyplash and two Skeleton Soldiers. However, the Ninja had actually set his own trap, and Wyplash was sent flying into a tree. Kruncha and Nuckal, who attacked Kai, also got trapped, and covered in a bucket of glue.
The Ninja report back together. Kai says that he caught two in the glue trap, and Jay mentions the three in trees. Zane has caught four in a pit trap and Cole got three in a dragon rope puzzle cage. They notice that they didn't catch Samukai, however, and as they wonder where he is, he appears behind them. Samukai had seen through their trap, and was waiting to ambush them at their rendezvous point.
However, the Ninja had another trap waiting. They let a net fall, trapping all the Skeletons who had come with Samukai, as well as Samukai himself. The Ninja easily defeat the Skeletons, of which some know Spinjitzu, and Samukai retreats to the Underworld.
When he returns, he immediately runs into Garmadon. Though they argue at first, Samukai finally admits defeat in their wager.
The Wager, Part Two
Samukai is attempting to flee the Underworld after his loss in the wager against Garmadon. He is paranoid about Garmadon following him, then chastises himself for being so cowardly. However, in the middle of his monologue, he notices that he casting two shadows, and Garmadon appears before him.
Samukai denies owing anything to Garmadon, and enraged, Garmadon attacks him. However, before he can fully defeat Samukai, the Skeleton reveals that Garmadon cannot stay forever in the Underworld. He reveals that despite Garmadon existing in a shadow form, he cannot survive for much longer, and if he does not get the Golden Weapons, he will cease to be.
After some convincing, Garmadon agrees to keep Samukai around. They agree on a new deal: Samukai would be allowed to rule the Underworld, and he would get the pleasure of battling the Ninja. However, Wu belonged to Garmadon, and the Golden Weapons were his as well. Though, Samukai had his own ideas for the Golden Weapons. He remarked that there were four weapons, and he had four arms... a nasty surprise may await Garmadon in the future, he thought.
- Master Wu
- Krazi (Mentioned)
- The First Spinjitzu Master (Mentioned)
- On Page 52, Zane is shown saying one of Jay's lines
- On Page 55, two Frakjaw are seen using Spinjitzu