Midtown Bloggerinos! Raph here, with a major blog event for you! Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be covering one of the biggest returns to comics. No it’s not Darkhawk (I wish there were enough material to devote to that), but it’s a major comics entity: Valiant Comics!
Founded in 1989 by Jim Shooter, Valiant and it’s universe was created with the premise that the characters be grounded in science fiction tenets: all powers derived from technology or psionic abilities. Valiant was a powerhouse in the 90’s, and introduced us to the world of X-O Manowar, Harbinger and many other characters. The company was bought out by Acclaim, which eventually went bankrupt. Valiant slowly began its rise from the ashes, coming back slowly in 2008 with reprints of their bestselling titles. It all came to a head with last year however, and the summer of Valiant.
2012 saw the slow, gradual return of Valiant, with brand spanking new releases. I’ll be speaking the team at Valiant about this decision, as well as their future plans, but for now, I want to take a look at the books Valiant has released, in order of their debuts.
Aric of Dacia is a brave and fierce warrior who leads his fellow Visigoths into war against the Romans, but the Romans aren’t who they seem. After being captured, Aric discovers that aliens have invaded Earth, and that he is capable of wielding the holy alien armor of the alien Vine, Shanhara. Sent into our present day, Aric wages war against the Vine. The art of Cary Nord in the initial art is gorgeous and Robert Venditti has been a great writer for the series, embracing the original roots of the character, while also modernizing a bit. The motivations of Aric are purely rage and revenge, but we see what drives this: the death of his wife, untold years of imprisonment and slavery, emerging into a world completely unfamiliar… all of these would drive a person insane. The series does a great job characterizing this, you could easily see Aric being the star of a Hollywood blockbuster revenge movie, and I’m looking forward to what Aric does next, and if he might ever find peace… but how can you find peace when you’re a Manowar?
The next book to be released was Harbinger. In the Vailiantverse, a select few have the ability to unlock the potential within. Toyo Harada is a rare Harbinger, an Omega; with a large array of powers and the ability to activate other people. Toyo is gathering Harbingers in an effort to save the world from itself, and encounters Peter Stanchek, the 2nd Omega in existence. The struggle of Peter as a young man born with powers and trying to medicate them away, vs. the old man who has nearly mastered the world. The writing of Joshua Dysart captures the dogmatic belief of Harada in his crusade to save the world, as well as showing what super powers really does to a person: a lifetime of confusion, fear, anxiety and frustration. Khari Evans’ art is beautiful as well, dark when it needs to be, and it does get dark. Between Peter’s life on the streets and Toyo’s machinations and secrets, this series is what Heroes could’ve been with a bigger budget.
I highly recommend both books, and the first volumes of both X-O Manowar and Harbinger are available for just $9.99. Valiant has clearly priced these terrific series to sell, and you are getting bang for your buck. A barbarian in advanced armor smashing aliens? A psionic superbeing going up against an evil corporation of psionic superbeings? The stakes are really high for both the characters in the books and for Valiant itself, but both are equal to their challenge and rise up to the occasion.
That’s all we’re going to do this week, like Valiant, I want to give you guys a little to digest at the time. I’ll have reviews of Bloodshot, Archer & Armstrong and Shadowman, until then—
“I have one rule.”