Wednesday, January 24, 2018
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Long-time readers will remember their chart-topping titles in the 1990s, like Rai, X-O Manowar, and Secret Weapons. A buy-out by Acclaim Entertainment and some other unfortunate business decisions ended the Valiant Comics line. Until now, that is. Valiant Comics are back with a Vengeance!

The new version of the publisher, Valiant Entertainment, is re-energized with new creative and business teams and is re-launching some of the lines’ most popular titles this summer. Here are 5 major reasons you should be a part of the Summer of Valiant.

5 Reasons to be Part of the Summer of Valiant

X-O Manowar #1

I. Valiant’s endearing and enduring characters

When Jim Shooter, Bob Layton and Barry Windsor-Smith, some of the biggest names at Marvel at the time, left to create their own company and their own characters in the early 1990s, comics fans paid attention. The characters Valiant created, including Aric of X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, and the Harbingers, sold incredible amounts of comics and reached huge audiences. The X-O Manowar #0 issue sold 850,000 copies initially and Bloodshot #1 sold 900,000, numbers that are almost unthinkable for any comic issued these days.

And what’s not to love with these characters? Take the X-O Manowar comic, in which history and science fiction meet in the adventures of Aric, a warrior from the 5th Century who is captured by aliens, then escapes and returns to earth in modern times with the aliens’ most powerful weapon – the X-O Manowar armor. Aric and his X-O Manowar suit combine bravery, strength and knowledge powerful enough to defeat Romans in battle, with the power that comes from science and technology advanced far beyond that of modern humans. How cool is that?!

Now, X-O Manowar is back as the first comic reintroduced by Valiant. The initial two comics are excellent, and Valiant intends to keep the high-quality coming. Valiant CEO Jason Kothari notes, “X-O Manowar was one of the many reasons that Valiant became a legend in its time. This is an all-time classic character and we have big plans not just for him, but the rest of the Valiant Universe.”

Another fascinating Valiant character can be found in Bloodshot. Bloodshot is the codename of a soldier who has been severely injured on a US military mission, or at least that is what some part of his mixed up mind is telling him. He has been saved from death through revolutionary nanotechnology, but at the expense of his memory and his freedom. He has now become a human weapon controlled by the war enterprise Project Rising Spirit. While he now possesses superhuman strength, speed and recovery from injury, as well as the ability to communicate with machines, he has lost all connection with who he is and what his life has been. Imagine if Jason Bourne were combined with RoboCop, and you’d only have a small idea of what Bloodshot is experiencing.

Bloodshot will be joining X-O Manowar in delighting fans both old and new this summer, and you don’t want to miss out. The new comic, written by Duane Swierczynski, comes out this July. “This is one man’s violent and dangerous quest for his own identity,” Swierczynski informs us. “If you like surprises, violence, noir and crazy science that might make your brain hurt… then this is your comic.”


X-O Manowar #5

II. A comics universe with continuity, consistency and cross-over

Another vanguard of the original Valiant universe was interconnectedness between characters. What happened in one of the comics would often have far-reaching impacts on storylines of the other books. This was true of Valiant’s earliest comics, but became much more of a hallmark after their successful 18-part Unity event in 1992. Through the Unity event, all characters in the Valiant universe were linked across time and space and became aware of one another’s existence. The event united the characters throughout the Valiant universe and led to the release of some of Valiant’s most popular titles, including Bloodshot, Ninjak, H.A.R.D. Corps, and the Second Life of Dr. Mirage. Established characters would show up in the comics of others in the Valiant universe, and new characters were consistently introduced in the preexisting comics before being launched in their own titles. For example, Ninjak, the popular Valiant ninja super-spy, debuted in their Bloodshot series in 1993.

The new Valiant team promises that this continuity and crossover will also be a major part of the Valiant relaunch. Robert Venditti, writer of the new X-O Manowar, described, “One of the aspects that made the original Valiant line so successful was its interconnectedness. That’s going to be true of the new books as well. The events unfolding within the pages of X-O Manowar will have huge implications throughout the entire universe. Aric will be encountering more than a few familiar Valiant faces – heroes and villians.” One of these familiar faces has already been teased - fans can look forward to this September, when we will see the reintroduction of Ninjak to the Valiant universe in X-O Manowar #5.


Eternal Warrior by Frank Miller

III. Appreciation of the contribution Valiant has made to the comics industry

In its short period of publishing, the original Valiant made groundbreaking contributions to the comics industry that continue to have an impact on today’s comics. As mentioned above, the continuity and crossover they employed in the Valiant universe was hugely popular and created expectations among comic fans that the industry is still held to. Their well-loved characters and intriguing storylines also enabled the small, new publisher to compete head-to-head with the big guys. At their high point, Valiant reached a market share comparable to DC Comics, and beat out DC and Marvel for Diamond’s Publisher of the Year award in 1993. Much like Image Comics, which was established around the same time period, Valiant forced Marvel and DC to compete for readers' attention. Marvel in particular lost some of their best talent to Valiant and Image, and were challenged to rethink the way they dealt with their artists and writers.

Valiant also provided fans with a level of realism that was uncommon in comics at the time. Their superheroes existed within a realistic universe, one in which scientific fact and theory mattered. In Valiant’s books, the laws of physics were not thrown to the wind and explained around, as they often were with other publishers. Readers were able to believe that these characters could actually exist because they were based on real-world science and experienced time at a recognizable pace.

Valiant also put out some great artwork in their time. Some of the biggest names in the industry lent their artistic talent to the Valiant universe, including Joe Quesada, Bart Sears, Steve Ditko, Mark Mignola, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jim Lee, Walt Simonson, and Frank Miller.

The new Valiant sent a message that they intend to continue to influence the quality of the comics industry with their first release, X-O Manowar. The first issues have met the old Valiant standard of strong storytelling, true-to-life warcraft, and believable science fiction. They have also signaled their intention to continue to bring us great artwork by bringing on Eisner Award-winning artist Cary Nord for the title. They have been rewarded in terms of sales, with X-O Manowar #1 now on its 3rd printing and initial numbers putting it at #2 for all non-DC or Marvel sales in May, behind only Image’s The Walking Dead.


Harbinger Voice Variant

IV. Creative marketing

Back in the day, the original Valiant became known for their marketing innovations, including being the first publisher to introduce #0 "origin" issues and producing their popular, if now dated, chromium variant covers. The new Valiant has continued this tradition with several creative, never-before-seen marketing strategies. One such innovation was the creation of “voice variants” for their X-O Manowar and Harbinger comics. With these variants, fans can use the “QR Reader”, which comes on all Droid smart phones and iPads and is available for download on iPhone, to enable an image of the main character’s face to “come to life” and speak to readers in the character’s voice.

Valiant has also used creative marketing strategies to keep retailers’ interests at the heart of their relaunch. They implemented a “pull-box variant” program, in which variant covers are made available only to readers who come into their local comic shop and set up a subscription for Valiant comics. The program both ensures sales for the retailer and rewards long-time Valiant fans for signing up to follow the new comics. The idea for the pull-box program resulted out of another innovative marketing strategy – Valiant’s goal to contact every comic-book retailer in the US and Canada to get their input on the relaunch. As they communicated in a January press release, “Valiant Entertainment is proud to announce the appointment of Eisner Award-winning former comics retailer Atom! Freeman to the position of Sales Manager. As his first order of business, Freeman is contacting every comic retailer in North America to open an ongoing, direct line of communication between Valiant and the retail community in advance of the publisher’s 2012 relaunch.” The employment of Atom! Freeman and the extensive outreach effort is a signal to fans and their favorite retailers that Valiant is willing to do things differently than their competitors to get their new comics off on the right foot.


Harbinger Poster

V. New comics full of action, adventure, and sci-fi with a fresh twist on tried-and-true characters

At the time of this article, readers have already had access to three of Valiant’s new comics. X-O Manowar #1 hit stores in May, and Harbinger #1 and X-O Manowar #2 followed in June. Both comics have been right on the mark with great storytelling and enchanting artwork that make you eager to continue reading. Harbinger refreshingly brings us amazing super powers that come from the mind rather than brute force, including telekinesis, atomic spatial distortion, and levitation. Writer Joshua Dysart describes, “Our Harbingers are not like traditional super-heroes. They’re dark and weird and straight-up awesome… Right now, my favorites are a monk who bleeds perpetually from a never healing wound but does not die and a child who projects images from your past back at you.” The child who projects past images is not in the first issue, but that gives us something to look forward to! And we’ve particularly enjoyed X-O Manowar, which has kept us on the edge of our seats with both historical and futuristic battles and an endearing character we can’t help rooting for. With its Roman battlefields, alien abduction, time travel, and high-tech suit of armor offering extreme power, X-O Manowar is anything but boring.

The new issues are staying true to everything fans loved about the original Valiant. But the relaunch of these comics is not just a rehash of the old stories. The characters and storylines have been updated to fit our current world, and the science fiction has been updated to reflect modern technological developments. If you read the original comics, you will find that new twists and surprises have been added to bring the stories to new life. We don’t want to spoil these for you, so read, find out, and let us know what you think!



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