The brand new Valiant Entertainment is pushing on as their universe marches towards the end of its first year of publication. The company only publishes five monthly comics, six this month if you count the Harbinger #0 issue, but Valiant goes for quality not quantity. Here are their February solicitations.
If you don’t know Valiant Comics than you weren’t reading comics in the early 90’s. Founded by Jim Shooter, Valiant was a promising new company that published characters like X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, Shadowman, Eternal Warrior, Rai, Ninjak, and Archer & Armstrong. The popular company was bought by Acclaim, the video game company, in 1994 and the line was revamped in 1996. By 1999 most of their Valiant comics were cancelled . Acclaim would file for bankruptcy in 2005, but the rights to their characters were bought and Valiant Entertainment began publication in May of 2012. The entire line was rebooted and re-presented for a new generation.
Harbinger is about people with the incredible powers to reshape the world, called Harbingers. The most powerful of them all, Toyo Harada, takes in Peter Stanchek, a boy that’s even more powerful than he is with the promise of helping to guide their people into a new tomorrow. If this sounds kind of like X-Men, don’t worry, it’s not. Toyo proves to be untrustworthy and manipulative so Peter breaks away and attempts to survive his ex-mentor’s wrath. The book is written by Joshua Dysart (Unknown Soldier, B.P.R.D. 1946, B.P.R.D. 1947) and drawn by Matthew Clark (Doom Patrol, Outsiders). The 0 issue has art from Mico Suayan (Batman: Arkham Unhinged, All-Winners Squad: Band of Heroes).
Archer & Armstrong is about a naive assassin, out in the world for the first time, and a weary immortal, who’s seen and done it all. In their adventures battling an ancient conspiracy, the duo develop a true buddy comedy relationship. Armstrong’s brother, another immortal, the Eternal Warrior, shows up in the book too. Fred Van Lente (Alpha Flight, Herc, Marvel Zombies 3, Marvel Zombies 4) writes the story and Emanuela Lupacchino (X-Factor, Ame-Comi Supergirl, Ame-Comi Power Girl) draws the art.
X-O Manowar is the story Aric of Dacia, the Visigoth, who is captured by world conquering aliens and escapes with a futuristic power suit. When he finally frees himself of the alien spaceship, he learns that he’s suddenly in the modern world. Ninjak, a boy
turned into a ninja by a video game, keeps coming to blows with Aric who trained to become a ninja and a weapons master, has been contracted to take the armor from Aric. The series is written by Robert Venditti (The Surrogates, soon to be writer on Demon Knights and Constantine) and drawn by Trever Hairsine (Judge Dredd Megazine, Extermination).
Bloodshot follows a soldier who has been brought back from near-death by military science. He is now the perfect physical soldier in every way, but he has very little memory of who he was before. He’s sent out on missions, programmed with the right set of memories to get the job done and then it’s all erased once he comes back in. But then Bloodshot breaks from his programming and seeks revenge. The book is written by Duane Swierczynski (Birds of Prey, Cable, Godzilla) and drawn by Manuel Garcia (Iron Man Noir, Black Widow, Supreme Power).
Shadowman follows the new Shadowman, Jack Boniface, as he tries to follow the legacy of his namesake and protect New Orleans from a demon invasion. The only problem is that Jack has absolutely no experience and he kind of doesn’t know what he’s doing. Rising star Justin Jordan (The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, Team 7, Deathstroke) co-writes the book with artist Patrick Zircher (Hulk, The Invincible Iron Man).
It’s pretty obvious that they know what they’re doing and they have the talent to do it with. These are not the new kids getting published for the first time, Valiant has brought together some of the best up and coming and established creators around. Clayton Henry (Spider-Girl), Khari Evans (Carbon Grey), Phil Briones (Captain America Corps), and Lee Garbett (Ultimate Fallout) have all contributed interior art to previous issues. They even have some great covers from the likes of Neal Adams (Batman), Doug Braithwaite (Journey into Mystery), Eric Ribic (Thor: God of Thunder), Dave Johnson (100 Bullets), and others.
Valiant is beginning their first line-wide crossover called Planet Death. I know what you’re thinking, ‘ugh, more crossovers?’ And I’d say ‘tell me about it,’ but this is actually pretty cool, considering such a tiny publisher can coordinate such a thing. I’m curious. The six issue crossover will start in next month’s X-O Manowar #11 and focus on Aric’s attempt to save the Earth from an alien invasion. Issues 9 and 10 serve as a prelude to the story, before things kick in. Original series artist Cary Nord (Conan) returns with issue #11.
They’re also collecting their stories into trade paperbacks (thank you). The first five issues of Harbinger, the first four of X-O Manowar and the first four of Bloodshot have already been collected. They’re even collecting the original runs from before the relaunch in their Valiant Masters series, which so far includes Bloodshot and Ninjak.
Launching a new comic book company is a tall order in this market and this economy. Everyone wants to buy from Marvel or DC and no one can really afford to take a chance on an unknown quantity. Valiant Entertainment is making it look easy. Especially in the superhero department. I’m really impressed with their line so far and plan to keep an eye on them. I expect a few new titles, or at least one starring the fan-favorite Ninjak. This is the ground floor, people.