MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Make Mine Valiant
So, I’ve spent the last few weeks ranting and raving about DC. And face it, there’s still plenty there to mine. From their recent canning of six titles and announcing six more (none of which I think will last a year) to their recently leaked ”sticker logo”… I could have a field day continuing to bash and dash. But alas, I grow weary of being hypocritical. I bitch and moan about them a ton, yet the majority of the cash flowing out of my pocket to frivolity generally concerns a majority of DC books, and related merchandise. So, for now, I’m waving a white flag, and turning my gaze elsewhere. Somewhere dashing, daring, and dare I say… Valiant.
On May 2nd, Valiant Comics will be reborn. Their flagship title, X-O Manowar, will hit the shelves. I will admit freely to you all that I know nothing of the Valiant universe. Let’s quickly Wikipedia that, for those in a similar boat. Wow, what a story! In 1989, Jim Shooter, one of the Allman Brothers crew, and some other financiers tried to buy up Marvel. They didn’t get it. Thus Valiant was born! They got a few heavy-hitters, and released a line of books. In 1994, they got dumped by their initial investors, scooped up by then-important video game creator Acclaim, and died a slow and boring death as their continuity-heavy line became too heavy a load to bear. Legal battles and the like kept things grounded for a while, but as you’ll now note: it’s all been solved, and the line will reconvene with Free Comic Book Day 2012. And due largely to some lackluster books by DC, and Marvel’s Next-Big-Waste of Time, I’m at a loss for why I shouldn’t take this as a sign to give Valiant a shot.
A recent press release for the budding brand hyped the announcement of the creative team for X-O. Surrogates scribe Robert Venditti and Conan artist Cary Nord will unite to bring us a tale of a time-lost ancient warrior given amazing future technology and plopped on the populace in 2012. Color me intrigued. I happen to love the Surrogates original graphic novel, and sneak peaks at the pencils of Nord show me that the book will look amazing to boot.
But this leads me to the bigger question. What is Valiant’s battle plan? Will they rise up and be a contender with the Big Two? I doubt it. The marketplace is crowded as it is. Image, Dark Horse, IDW, Dynamite, Avatar, and Boom! all struggle to keep a cohesive line. Face it, each of those aforementioned second stringers all have one or two big fish, and then spread themselves thin on bargain-bin fodder from licensed properties that appeal to the niche audiences. Well… the niche of this niche, if you get my drift.
Mind you, I’m not trying to poop on the parade, I’m just wary for any “line launch” in a continually crowded comic rack. And a subsequent Google search doesn’t even have the company site at #1 in the rankings. What appears to be a company website is just a form with “Notify Me!” on it. Bad mojo my friends.
Let us consider Boom! Studios’ Stan Lee line, launched in 2010. Four books with solid concepts released very close to one another. The critics didn’t quite rave about any of them, and I rarely hear anyone discuss them at the shop when I pop in on new comic book day. Valiant certainly has picked a good time to strike, but I’m hoping it’s done more intelligently. Case in point?
Boom’s other cash cow, the Irredeemable universe. Launched as a single amazing comic, smartly spun off into a single other title that has refrained for years before crossing directly into one another. Join that to a solid base of fans consistently purchasing the book due to high standards of art teams and consistent writing… and you have something worth copying. While I myself have recently stopped my subscription to Irredeemable, I don’t knock those still following on. It’s the kind of model I hope Valiant is paying close attention to.
Ultimately, X-O Manowar‘s release got me genuinely excited for a new title to latch on to. With a strong creative team announced, and DC and Marvel knee-deep in their own crapulence, Valiant stands to gain a following again. If they stick to releasing solid books, refrain from event-driven releases, and put their books out on time… I see no reason why they won’t stick around for a long while.
Also, they should hire Unshaven Comics.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander