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In the sea of large scale breaking news either of “editorial mismanagement”, “radical creative switches”, or even “shocking universe changing plots” there does shine out a small beacon of relative tranquility. A beacon that shows more promise than even the most out there Image series that people believe they can wave above their heads and say that Indie titles are where the modern masterworks are being made. Not to knock Image or even indies for that matter, but this particular company is a gleaming example of a how a company that runs on intellectual properties and copyrights can be run, and run well even. The company that I am describing is one that not many had any hope for in the last years, since it had gone under half a decade before hand. But just like the mythological Phoenix it has returned in a blaze of glory.
The company in question?
Valiant Entertainment, otherwise known as Valiant Comics.
Once a strapping young comics company with a lot of potential back in the 90’s, Valiant Comics seemed poised for greatness. Valiant was at one point even rivaling the “Big Two,” Marvel and DC Comics, in terms of sales. Yet, after pioneering and utilizing the now standard comics gimmicks like “zero issues”, redeemable comic book issues, and even those annoyingly marketable “chrome/foil” covers that permeated the decade – Valiant was sold to Acclaim Entertainment in the mid-90’s. Acclaim, true to its nature as a video game company, instead focused more on the development and marketing of the video game potential of the properties that it had acquired. Coupled with the burst of the 90’s Comics bubble the comics languished and in 2004 Acclaim Entertainment folded Valiant before finally going under itself in 2005, where the matter seemed destined to rest. That is until Dinesh Shamdasani and Jason Kothari, along with a group professionals that they led, bought the rights to the Valiant creative library and formed what is now known as Valiant Entertainment.
After 7 years of preparation Valiant Entertainment once again began to publish monthly titles under it’s new banner and brand spanking new logo, starting out with five flagship series to set up a new foundation. These series were new revamped versions of the old Valiant standards – X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Bloodshot, Archer & Armstrong, and Shadowman. Each title brining forward a new and refreshed direction for each respective subject. Each mixing older and more well-versed talent along with bringing new up and coming names into the fold. All the while doing it’s best to keep old fans, or at least those who were still around, satiated and maintaining what had made the original versions so appealing in the first place.
When taking into account something such as DC Comics’ “New 52” relaunch/reboot, something so sloppily handled and messily directed, and comparing it to how Valiant was managing things – it’s almost a testament to how keeping things simple is much easier than trying to go out with something large and obtrusive. For before “The New 52” even launched DC Comics had proclaimed an influx of new creative talent, such as Jim Zub, only to drop them before their first issues. So far Valiant Entertainment has suffered nothing of the sort in its last full year of publishing and has even done the reverse. For it seems that there is something about this rebranded company that is drawing talent to it like a flame and making them stick to it like fly paper – as only less than two months ago writer Joshua Dysart (Harbinger) signed himself exclusively to Valiant, a move that was both shocking and heartening. Shocking in that while Valiant is doing well as a third party it is still burgeoning. But this is a good omen nonetheless.
Something else to have taken note of is the insistence of Valiant to taking time in building a cohesive and logical shared universe between their titles. There is nothing obtrusive or blatant going on within the titles themselves and each work's on its own – but even then each is self-contained to the point where they can do their own thing while being pieces in a larger puzzle. In fact, the only crossover so far, dubbed “Harbinger Wars,” between Harbinger and Bloodshot, seems to have only come about due to it making great narrative sense for both to do so. Rather than force encounters in order to make a big splash or grab headlines over an event it weaves them naturally. Not that Valiant is taking the slow route here, but it’s playing it’s hands close to the chest, as it’s already begun to expand its library with the upcoming release of cult-favorite Valiant series Quantum and Woody. Valiant Entertainment is a comic company not unlike the “Big Two” – it plays the same game in essence, but it does so with more finesse and care and that makes all the difference to readers. Here’s to good tidings to Valiant Entertainment as it heads into what could be catalogued as its second wave.