All of us have holiday traditions: some of us watch A Rugrats Chanukah each year, some can recite all the words to “The 12 Pains of Christmas,” and some politely ask the three major shared comics universes (Marvel, DC, Valiant) to make some changes to their comic lines to please our interests. Wanna guess which one we are doing today?
First up this year is Valiant, who had a quite different 2018 than they did 2017. Let’s dig in:
Ken Godberson III
A Fitting End for Harada
To put it simply, Joshua Dysart’s “Harbigner” relaunch has been the best book of the Valiant relaunch and a good chunk of that comes down to Dysart’s deft characterization of the antagonist, Toyo Harada. While “Imperium” didn’t fully live up to its potential, knowing that the Dysart is coming back for a mini-series fittingly called “The Life and Death of Toyo Harada” feels like a nice coda to not only Dysart’s Psiot work, but to that era of Valiant as well. My wish is that it serves as the great end this run truly deserves.
2018 was an odd year for Valiant. There was a big shake-up at the very top echelons of the company and it was felt just as much on page. The big victim of this was their big event of the year: “Harbinger Wars II.” It felt very disjointed and the ending was not the planned one, given all the build up that had been set in place. But now, things seem to be going in a better direction. We have Joseph Illidge as Executive Editor and a whole slew of books such as “Livewire” and “Bloodshot: Rising Spirit” ready to take us into a new era. So the hope is bright.
Is the Valiant Cinematic Universe Still Going to be a Thing?
I mean, the wish is right there in the title, honestly. I mean, Big Vin is playing Bloodshot, but I’m still hoping we get more news or… you know… a trailer at least?
Let Properties Sleep for a While
Since Valiant Entertainment reconstituted there have been three core titles in their revolving line: “X-O Manowar,” “Bloodshot,” and “Harbinger.” “X-O” and “Harbinger” both received publishing breaks (10 months and two years respectively) at one time or another, but “Bloodshot” really hasn’t. It’s on fourth or fifth (depending on how you count a few miniseries) title with “Rising Spirit.” I have yet to read the second issue, but the first issue inspired zero confidence in the continued exploration of the property. Hopefully next year Valiant puts some properties to bed for a good while. The case of series like “Harbinger Renegades” and “Rising Spirit” show the importance of letting things rest. Neither added much to the property or narratively justified itself. “Harbinger Renegades” was pointless prologue to the companies Babe Ruth like called shot of “Harbinger Wars 2.” If you believe in the pitch and it adds a new layer to the property, go for it. In an environment with $4 single issue comics and an already limited output, Valiant doesn’t have the built in nostalgic goodwill to put out stuff that isn’t exciting or engaging.
Make Entrees into the Book Market/Experiment
I’ve quite reading single issues, expect for two series pretty much. Anecdotally the cost of a single issue comic is a major reason why my friends don’t buy them, and that is mirrored what appears to be an at best flat year in the direct market. My anecdotal friends do read comics however, they buy the collections. Valiant is supposed to be a different kind of publisher, so release an “X-O” or “Bloodshot” OGN aimed at the book market. It can be in or out of continuity, with how the concept is overall being treated by other publishers and the relative lack of it in Valiant the distinction doesn’t matter much. An OGN can give people a taste of what an “X-O” or “Bloodshot” story is like and build more fans.
Similarly, what about taking old series and reformatting for the web or teaming up with comiXology Originals again.
Valiant’s publishing line is consistent but predictable, I want to be surprised in 2019.Continued below
Write Daniel Kibblesmith a blank check
The best Valiant comic of 2018 wasn’t even in the universe proper- it was a fanfic tale. “Valiant High” rocked. It was hilarious, witty, and a reminder of what a great stable of characters Valiant has to offer. This is entirely because of the charm that Daniel Kibblesmith brought to the book. Now normally I’d try to match a great creator with an appropriate series- I’d love him on “Archer and Armstrong,” he’d be a great fit for “Quantum and Woody,” I’d love to see what he does with “Faith”- but in this case, just ask him. Seriously, that series was so much better than it had any right to be. Ask Kibblesmith what his weirdest, least likely idea is, throw your full support behind it, and you’ll have a hit.
Unity 40 AD
My favorite Valiant series of the past few years has been the various “Britannia” miniseries. While part of me is nervous to let Antonius Axia meet the greater Valiant universe, it could also be really fun to do an ancient team-up book. Valiant is full of immortals and legacy characters- and historical superheroes is a really underrated genre. The whole concept is so tied to comics’ early days in the 1940s that writers rarely mix fantasy, history, and superheroics. Valiant has just the right approach that could create a kickass series starring the Detectioner, the Immortal Warrior, and the ancient Shadowman.
More time travel
One of the cool gimmicks of Valiant is that they don’t do time travel cheap- there’s one timeline, and its the one you’re reading. That makes characters like Ivar particularly difficult to write- but also a joy to read. I’d love a story that unified the Anni-Padda brothers, the heroes of Rome, medieval Europe, and the heroes of 4001. Even if War Mother never stands shoulder to shoulder with Sir Kwain, it would make for an epic (and possibly hilarious) Time Walker story if Ivar had to coordinate the heroes from across time. I’m not saying it would easy to write- just that it would be joyous to read!
Don’t Cancel “Livewire”
A new ongoing series? In this economy? It’s really hard to keep interest in a superhero comic, the market is saturated. But if there’s one criticism to be lobbed at Valiant, it’s that their track record with women is… mixed. There aren’t that many of them on or off the page. Livewire is probably Valiant’s most high profile female hero- Faith/Zephyr’s popularity nonwithstanding. She’s a technopath, which is a cool superpower that hasn’t been represented in any Marvel or DC movie yet. She’s powerful. She should be taking the Valiant U by storm. So it may be really really hard but please Valiant, give her 12 uninterrupted issues. See if she can find a voice. She just might be the next big thing.
I hear there are a bunch of Valiant movies coming out, starring Vin Diesel no less. Awesome. Ninjak Vs. The Valiant Universe was a thing. It wasn’t a good thing, but I watched it. It was kind of an amazing thing. Don’t give up Valiant. You’re never going to have the movies of Marvel or the TV shows of DC. You’ve gotta get weird. A cheesy glorified stuntshow with goofy costumes on YouTube is a good start. Maybe a video game developed by a plucky Eastern European studio? Some sort of touring live-action performance art piece? A prog rock concept album? I have no idea what you’ve got up your sleeve, but you’re third fiddle. Be crazy and the fans will come.
A couple less minis please
This might seem like a weird request considering how tight the Valiant publishing line is but hear me out. One of the great benefits to the way Valiant does their universe is this smaller schedule, with only a few books coming out at a time, and only a few ongoings. What I’m suggesting is that Valiant eases back on the crossover event minis, like “Harbinger Wars 2,” and instead do one or two more ongoings and a few more one-shots ala “Armstrong: Vault of Spirits.” They’ve already announced a couple brand new ongoings, starting with “Livewire” which is being hyped to the extreme, so I think they’ve got that pretty well in hand.Continued below
Part of why I say this is because the quality of these events haven’t been the strongest. They’re not bad, especially not when compared to many of the bloated events of Marvel & DC, but if there’s a bit of a creative drought for these events, either because they’re being written and drawn by the same few artists & writers or because they’re used more to set-up new series than to advance the characters. Give the creators a different kind of constraint and let the magic happen. “Bloodshots Day Off” was a lot of fun and I’m sure with the new creators that have been brought on board, you can do a lot with such little space.
Dr. Mirage and Ivar, Timewalker crossover
Two very different heroes with two very different, complicated pasts coming together to fight a baddie that threatens time AND the afterlife. What more could you ask for? I know this is a tough sell, not least of which because Ivar seems to have disappeared from the main comics, but I firmly believe this could be a fun match up for a mini. Yes, I know I just asked for fewer minis but if Valiant is going to continue to follow the Dark Horse model of multiple mini-series that make up a series, I want to see a few more out there ones.
They could even bring in MJ Kim, who’s killing it on “Faith: Dreamside” right now and draws a mean Dr. Mirage, and some other fresh talent to write it. Or have MJ write and draw it! Anything to get these two characters more page time in strange and fun situations. They could even bring Shadowman in for a different angle on the Deadside! My point is, while I love the psiots, I love the weird magic more.