When it comes to shared comics universes, most people turn their mind straight to Marvel and DC, publishers that have mastered the concept over several decades. But a few years ago, Valiant Comics came roaring back, relaunching themselves for a contemporary audience, and providing a simpler superhero universe to get to grips with. Yet even a small shared universe can feel like a lot to learn about, and readers may have held back from taking the plunge.
To help those readers whose curiosity has been piqued, we've assembled our own team of 'delinquents' to break things down. Steve Morris knows the Valiant Universe inside out; J.A. Micheline is completely new to the universe. Micheline has the questions, like what exactly is a "psiot", and who is that bloke in the blue and yellow helmet, and why is everybody so afraid of a goat; and Morris has answers. We hope.
As you might have gathered from the title, Valiant's big Book of Death crossover has been a bit of a downer, especially the issues where we see what's become of the Valiant heroes in the near future. It has not ended well for pretty much any of them, a sad fact that has taught us that not even Ninjak is immune to the ravages of time.
That's why it's nice to see the relatively peaceful future of Book of Death: The Fall of X-O Manowar, by Robert Venditti and Clayton Henry, where there's a beautiful museum in Italy devoted to all of Aric of Dacia's many achievements in giant monster hunting. If the preview below is any indication, then we're finally going to get to enjoy a look at this horrible future that's just a peaceful day out. Oh, and also there's some aliens trying to murder him with a spear, I guess, but other than that...
I'd like to think that I'm pretty polite most of the time, but I'll admit that I have no idea what's expected of me in extremely formal situations. I mean, it was only a few weeks ago that I learned that there's actually a huge (and sometimes insulting) difference between addressing someone as "your highness" and "your majesty," so in the unlikely event that I ever actually meet a king or queen, I'm going to be at a loss.
I do, however, know one thing about meeting royalty: You don't spit on them. Especially if the royalty in question is a barbarian king from the fifth century. Especially if it's Aric of Dacia, a barbarian king from the fifth century who is also wearing a suit of high-tech armor that recently allowed him to defeat an entire alien army pretty much singlehandedly. That's... that's not going to work out well, and it's a hot tip that you could probably share with the cast of X-O Manowar #40, by Robert Venditti and Rafa Sandoval. Check out a preview!
Aric of Dacia has been pretty busy lately. Just a few years ago, he was a barbarian hanging out trying to murder a bunch of Romans back in Visigoth Times, and then, wouldn't you know it, he's abducted by aliens, kept out in space for a thousand years, and winds up bonded to a high-tech suit of sentient armor that gives him the power to take on anything in his path, up to and including the intergalactic robotic army that destroyed the home planet of the Vine, the aliens that kidnapped him in the first place.
Now, the Vine are left without a home planet, and so in true sitcom fashion, they're dropping in on their old pal Aric and his lovely wife Sanna to see if maybe they shouldn't settle on Earth. The action goes down in X-O Manowar #39 by Robert Venditti and Rafa Sandoval, the start of the new story arc 'Exodus'. Check out a preview below!
Since their first tiles appeared on comic-shop shelves in 2012, the resurrected Valiant Comics has established themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Their new take on the characters and mythology of the original 1990s Valiant line, their pursuit of top-shelf creators, their focus on storytelling and world-building, and their gift for unorthodox marketing and promotion has drawn praise from both fans and press, led to a film development deal with Sony, and won scores of industry awards (and award nominations). They've proven themselves to be not just cashing in on past glories, but a company that's capable of pushing their stable of characters in new and exciting directions while remaining true to their roots.
While other superhero comics publishers are mining their pasts for big crossover events this spring and summer, Valiant is blasting ahead into the future, specifically, its characters' end times.
The new, four-issue event series Book of Death, written by Robert Venditti and with art by Robert Gill and Doug Braithwaite, promises to reveal how characters including Ninjak, Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, Toyo Harada and others will bite it, be redeemed, be replaced, or otherwise change in the future.
X-O Manowar. Harbinger. Bloodshot. Archer & Armstrong. Shadowman. These are the heroes of the Valiant Universe. In the 1990s, they were some of the hottest properties in all of comics. With top-notch talent and huge amounts of buzz, Valiant became a legitimate challenger to the dominance of the big two publishers, Marvel and DC. Their first issues (along with their fancy-schmancy chromium covers) became enormous collector’s items, and their series dominated the sales charts. Valiant was eventually sold to Acclaim, who later shuttered the imprint, but in 2012 Valiant returned from a new publisher with relaunched series and it’s been steadily growing ever since. So it’s next area of growth, naturally, is movies.
Following the successful launch of a Valiant Comics roleplaying game on DriveThruRPG.com, the publisher announced this week that it will partner with the RPG site's sister site, DriveThruComics.com, to offer its entire comics library -- the old and the new -- DRM-free, as PDFs. New comics will be available day-and-date.
Not only that, but for the next 30 days, Valiant will offer eight of its number-one issues for free through the DriveThruComics website; Archer and Armstrong, Unity, Bloodshot, Eternal Warrior, Harbinger, Quantum and Woody, Shadowman and X-O Manowar.
Matt Kindt and Jeff Lemire, the co-writers of the upcoming miniseries The Valiant -- a prestige-format miniseries featuring Bloodshot, Geomancer and Eternal Warrior -- have each done superhero work in the past, but they've really made their names with creator-owned work that they wrote and drew. Kindt's Mind MGMT has taken off, and Lemire struck a chord with series including Sweet Tooth and Trillium.
Those credentials are part of why Valiant invited the two creators to work on the new miniseries -- one that's being touted as an entry point for new readers, but also as a turning point for the whole Valiant Universe. They've been given some wiggle room to develop a character-based story and put their creative voices to work. The result is something both writers seem really proud of, not to mention a story that's bound to look good, with artwork by Paolo Rivera.
We sat down with Lemire and Kindt at San Diego Comic-Con International to ask them about their collaboration, how their backgrounds in cartooning inform their superhero work, and how Valiant's universe differs from others.
Delicious iced beverages and primitive warriors with advanced alien technology aren't two things that most people immediately associate with one another, so I must confess to a few moments of confusion on reading this morning's press release from Valiant Entertainment, which announces a three-way promotional partnership between Valiant, comic retail behemoth Midtown Comics, and New York City coffee shop chain Oren's Daily Roast, to give away free comic books and create an X-O Manowar signature frozen green tea beverage.
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