Valiant Entertainment chose to celebrate their 25th anniversary today in the form of a panel at the Twitter Headquarters in San Francisco, streamed live through Periscope. A cool idea, to be sure. Using the tag #ValiantSummit on the popular social website, they garnered some interest. Unfortunately some of the footage took some time to load, even under the pressure of less than 150 streamers. The company did drop a few tantalizing hints towards their future as a company and as a comic book universe, but it was clear the true purpose of the summit wasn’t a look towards their future, but a discussion of their past and present. With a universe spanning over 2,000 characters and a new cinematic universe on the way, they are indeed the largest independent comic book universe on the market.
In the scheme of things, Valiant is a VERY young comic book universe. Although their first published titles were released in 1990, the company recently rebooted from the ground up with some of the same characters in a modern setting. And it’s all brilliant. This reboot, in 2012, has since produced some of the best company-wide storytelling I’ve ever experienced in comics. That said, if this Valiant Summit has taught me one thing, they’re only now catching any real steam, and are desperately pushing their books towards a wider audience. Being in the shadow of the Big 2, it can’t be easy.
The five panelists included Dinesh Shamdasani, Robert Venditti, Jen Van Meter, Warren Simons, and Hunter Gorinson. Venditti began detailing his long running series, X-O Manowar, of which he just finished working on issue 40. It was his first run on a monthly comic, and he seems extremely proud of it. Warren Simons then dove into Harbinger the extremely popular series that will also soon be seeing the movie treatment at the hands of Sony. Interestingly he introduced the main character as Toyo Harada, who is for the most part a secondary antagonist of the series. He also spoke on the sequel series Imperium, which is actually Harada-centric. Jen Van Meter spoke in length about her Doctor Mirage book that received heavy acclaim of late. It bridges the more supernatural elements of the Valiant Universe with the romantic. Shamdasani introduced Quantum and Woody, a comic about two idiots who get superpowers and a goat. As far as the goat’s abilities, he won’t say. Simons again takes the stage to chat up The Valiant, which is a story about the Eternal Warrior, who protects the forces of the Geomancers, who in turn shepherd humanity. This is an impactful ‘status quo’ for the Valiant Universe, leading into Bloodshot: Reborn and is described as a great jumping on point, if you’re uninterested in reading the books that lead into it.
These are all legacy characters from the original Valiant universe in the 90s, but this year they wanted to push some new characters into the universe. With Matt Kindt’s Divinity, that’s exactly what they’ve done. And it looks so unbelievably beautiful. Basically, in the 60’s the Russians were farther along in their space race than people around the world realized. A black cosmonaut, who happens to lean on the communist side of the spectrum, is sent into space on a 30 year mission. He comes back with the ability to control energy, but still thinks and feels as humans do. Brilliant concept. Can’t wait to get my hands on the TPB. Valiant’s announced that Divinity is going into it’s 6th printing already.
At this point in the panel they announced that in an effort to get these titles into the hands of comic readers, they’ll be reprinting each debut issue and repricing them at the extremely affordable rate of $1.00 a pop! That’s like 5 comics for the price of 1 issue of Secret Wars!
We also got some spoilery news on Book of Death, including some pretty stellar artwork. Tama, a young Geomancer, has a book that records history long into the future. In the wake a huge catastrophic events, the Valiant Universe believes Tama is behind it, and Gilad the Eternal Warrior must fight them to protect her.
A new Eternal Warrior book is also coming called Wrath of the Eternal Warrior, which sounds quite promising. Raul Allen is the artist signed exclusively to the project and to Valiant. This should arrive around November. A new Doctor Mirage book entitled Death Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives also arrives this December.
X-O Manowar will be Valiant’s first run in their modern era to reach 50 issues, by 2016, and Rob Venditti is now officially the longest running writer for the character. He might also hold the record for longest run ever in a Valiant title, but that wasn’t confirmed.
Question and answers started up, and only two questions garnered any real potential news. Valiant is open to doing a crossover special with other companies. Also, Shamdasani inadvertently let slip that they may actually have animated films in the works! Very cool, if you ask me.
All in all, I was expecting more news on their movie front, which they announced earlier this year. But alas, nothing. Not even a passing mention. And that makes sense, it’s still very early in the pre-production phases. But you’d think that a company trying as hard as they are to get their books out to new audiences would want to push their cinematic front more openly. Oh well. That was a bit disappointing. But it left a lot still to digest. Hopefully this will help them push toward wider popularity. It’s smart they did this before San Diego Comic Con next week, as other news would have definitely overshadowed theirs. Periscope was a very neat streaming service, and worked quite well considering.
For more on Valiant Comics, check out some of my debut trade reviews:
Harbinger, Vol. 1: Omega Rising
Quantum and Woody, Vol. 1: The World’s Worst Superhero Team
X-O Manowar, Vol. 1: By the Sword