Valiant. If you've read comics at any point over the last 20+ years you've heard the name and if you were a collector back in the early 90's than there is a very strong chance to had a few of their comics in your collection. After a long struggle rife with idiotic companies and other such bumps in the road, they're back in the saddle and they're better than ever!
Many know about the old Valiant Comics that published such titles as Solar, Magnus: Robot Fighter, Harbinger, X-O Manowar, Eternal Warrior, Shadowman, and Turok, but you may not know about Valiant Entertainment. Valiant Entertainment is NOT the same company that was known as Valiant Comics back in the early 90's, they're a completely different company who has stepped out from the shadows to gain the license of many of the original Valiant Comics characters that were so successful in the 90's so that they could publish comics based on these characters in today's market. Without getting into the story about the legal battles and the old Valiant Comics, I want to focus on the NEW Valiant and the titles in which they have been producing and plan on producing in the near future. Rebooting the characters back to day 1 and focusing on putting out quality books with superior art and great storytelling was the goal of Valiant Entertainment and they decided to launch the line with a promotional campaign titled “Summer of Valiant”, and so far they're off to a fantastic start. They kicked things off in May with X-O #1 which as of this writing has had orders of over 50,000 copies with 4 printings, a feat that is VERY rare in today's struggling comic book market. X-O Manowar is a story about an ancient warrior named Aric who is kidnapped by a race of aliens known as “Vine” and kept in lockup for a number of years which led to him and his captured comrades to break free. Aric stumbles upon a set of armor that is worshiped by the alien race and when he put the armor on he was transformed into an even more powerful warrior than he was before. The second book was Harbinger in June, a title that revolves around a young man (Peter Stancheck) who is recruited by an organization via a man named Toyo Harada thanks to his exceptional powers. Harbinger was followed by Bloodshot in July, which is a story about a man who literally can't die and is sent out into suicide missions by the military only to be betrayed and have it revealed that he was implanted with false memories of his personal life. And the final of the 4 initial titles is Archer & Armstrong in August, a book that teams up a skilled archer with a stumbling drunk that has hilarious religious overtones and a strong story behind it. So far it's been announced by Valiant that all 4 #1 issues have sold out through Diamond and high sales figures and multiple printings have been the norm since Valiant Entertainment entered the comic book market, this is a success in independent comics that has not been seen since the day's of Image when they were tearing up the sales and orders charts in the early to late 90's. And Valiant isn't done yet.
Launching in the Fall was a title called Shadowman with other possible books hitting shelves in Spring of 2013, rumors of Valiant releasing titles based on Eternal Warrior and Rai still loom but many believe that they could just be used as side characters in existing books similar to how Ninjak is currently being used in X-O. One thing that is refreshing is that Valiant appears to be listening to it's fans with the announcement of Shadowman, while a good portion were excited for Eternal Warrior and/or Rai it seemed that the fan-base was absolutely thirsting for Shadowman and the publisher had it's ears wide open for us. Valiant has noted at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con that they hope to eventually have up to 15 titles on store shelves within the next few years, so far they've been very successful with the books they've released so 15 may not be out of the realm of possibility but many think that releasing that many books may hurt Valiant's goal of keeping strong continuity between titles. Either way, the publisher has more than enough characters in it's stable to support such a goal and if they capped off at 15 maximum titles than I could see this totally working out in their favor, especially if orders remain strong for Valiant throughout. Since the launch just before summer of 2012, Valiant has put into place a few other key things to ensure success with their titles that have fans scratching at the bit for more. “Harbinger Wars” will be hitting store shelves in 2013, this is slated to be a mini-series that will tie into the core Harbinger book and Bloodshot. And “Planet Death”, which is going to be a mega event kicking off in 2013 within the X-O Manowar book, and Valiant isn't done yet. The publisher is also teasing a universe wide crossover sometime in 2013 as well that will span all of their titles, but as of right now it appears as if they want to continue telling great stories within their books and building their universe one character introduction at a time.
Seriously, if you're on the fence about Valiant's books than I invite you to check out reviews of these titles on any major comic book review site, they're breathtakingly positive and some are calling Harbinger, Archer & Armstrong, and X-O the absolute best comics being published today. I'm inclined to agree. It's been years, and I mean YEARS since an independent publisher has thrilled me this much with their comics, the last time I truly felt this way was with Crossgen Comics back in the early 2000's when they had their “Sigil-Verse”. I used to walk into the comic book store multiple times a month and my excitement was at an all-time high when new Crossgen comics were waiting for me on store shelves, and for the first time since 2004 I truly feel that excitement again as I pick up my Valiant titles monthly. It's totally refreshing. Also, it's nice to have found a company that's putting out quality comics that seems completely stable. I've gotten involved with other companies in the past that were putting out great comics that nobody was reading, eventually they either stopped publishing them in favor of something else or they went out of business completely (Big City Comics, Aftermath Comics, Virgin Comics). But Valiant seems to have a game-plan and the owners seem to know what they're doing, as long as the sales remain high and the praise continues to roll in I expect the publisher to stick around for a long time to come if not forever. The just need to avoid the mistakes that the original Valiant made back in the day with partnering with other companies and trying to expand too much in too short of time, if they take the slow and easy approach than I see nothing but success in their future.
As always I would like to thank those who took the time to read this blog, I really appreciate your support and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You can find me all over the web at places like Comic Book Resources forum, Valiantfans.com's forum, Toonzone.net's forum, The Retro Roundtable, Dynamite Entertainment's forum, and Twitter (Twitter.com/manga4life). Hope to see you around!
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