Out of My Mind: Why I Read Valiant and You Should, Too: Part 2
Yesterday, I gave a little bit of my comics origin story and began discussing why I am so passionate about reading Valiant books. If you haven’t read part 1, make sure you read it here to get some context before reading part 2.
It’s happening right outside your window
Well not in the literal sense – I could only imagine my wife freaking out if she a couple of psiots fighting it out in the back yard – but what I mean is that everything that happens in the Valiant universe has consequences.
One of the longest running jokes in comics is the death of a character. Sure, smaller characters may go away for years or maybe even decades, but major players never really die. Batman died! Nope, stuck in time. Captain America died! Nope, stuck in time. Jean Grey died! Nope, well yes, and no, and clones, and – you get the idea. Now granted, some may argue Valiant hasn’t been around long enough to kill off any characters and that’s a valid point, but at least under the current leadership we’ve been explicitly told that dead is dead. The one exception to this has been Bloodshot, who almost comically dies multiple times per issue, only to return to kick more ass – but that’s part of his power set and there are rules to follow after his regeneration, like, you know, eating giant slabs of meat.
Another great example of how seriously the Valiant universe takes itself is the debris orbiting the Earth after X-O Manowar destroyed an invading fleet of Vine ships. The debris has been an integral part of the universe since that particular arc – governments fight to gather technology from it, many books have made some kind of reference to it, travel to space can be somewhat difficult because of it, etc. It could also be argued that particular arc, and really the entire first half of the X-O Manowar series has had lasting repercussions not just on that book, but on the entire Valiant universe. We’re currently approaching the end of the Armor Hunters saga in which some of what we’ve known from before has been further expanded, meanwhile introducing new characters and new events which will themselves shape the Valiant universe for years to go.
How many times has your favorite Marvel or DC title been rebooted? How many times has the entire universe been rebooted throwing away nearly everything you thought you knew about your favorite characters? Valiant is still young and that could certainly happen in the future, but right now we have very clear focus and direction which EVERY comic book fan should be able to appreciate and enjoy.
“But there are superpowers, and aliens, and magic, that’s not happening outside my window!” Good point, but wouldn’t it be awesome if it were? And wouldn’t it be great knowing that there are rules and limitations to that as well?
Every book is a little nugget of gold
While there are similarities between some of the books, generally just due to a shared history and shared universe (see part one), no two books are the same. In fact, there’s probably at least one book you will enjoy.
Like epic sci-fi? Try X-O Manowar. Love humor? Try Quantum and Woody. Want superpowered beings? How about giving Harbinger a try? Enjoy Rai and want more? You’ll have to wait for the next issue. You see, unlike other big comic book companies, there aren’t multiple “me too” books. If you enjoy a character, you’ll probably have to wait until next month to read more about him or her. As I mentioned in part 1, there are times when characters cross into other books, but you will generally not be reading more than one book – an issue I had when I was reading the multiple Bat-titles until relatively recently.
And it’s not just that Valiant has such a broad range of characters and themes that get tackled every month, but also the amount of talent behind the books that make them just the more special.
Just like all smaller publishers Valiant really does care about its readers. Those of you who follow me on Twiter know I reference someone involved in a book quiet often and that they will always reply. Some Valiant folks are more involved than others and different people float around various social networks, but chances are that if you have a question or a comment about any of the books, someone involved will probably reply.
Much of that attitude certainly runs across many smaller publishers, but to me it has been most evident with Valiant. It certainly wouldn’t be fair to judge the folks at DC or Marvel for not being as involved with their fans considering there are some creators from those publishers who are very willing to talk to fans.
Part of that community involvement must definitely be attributed to Dinesh Shamdasani, CEO and Chief Creative Officer for Valiant who was himself a fan of these characters growing up. What comic fan wouldn’t love to run their favorite comic book publisher one day and have a say in the future of those characters? There are many stories of Dinesh personally talking to fans and non-fans alike and sharing his love for the books that Valiant creates. Think about the impression that makes on existing and new readers alike?
Come aboard, even if these characters are new to you
Many people are wary about trying new books, particularly if they involve characters that are completely separate from those they currently know and love. Don’t be afraid to pick up a Valiant book, most are all very new reader friendly.
You may not want to jump in at the end of a major arc, but since most Valiant arcs are only 3 or 4 issues, there’s no reason not to give one a try. If you hate it, you’re out of $12. But if you like it, and I’m certain there will be at least one book you’ll enjoy, the amount of joy you’ll get out of that one book will certain balance out the original investment.
Granted, I read a few Valiant books back in the 90s, but the new Valiant universe has been completely updated and revamped so even it felt new to me when I started reading Valiant again, and now I own every issue of all the books since 2012 and am always on the lookout for variant covers, original art, and even back issues of the 90s books.
If you’re unsure where to start, we plan on publishing a series of beginner’s guides to Valiant over the next few weeks so stay tuned.
I hope you enjoyed reading this part article as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you have any comments or questions feel free to leave them below, or find me on Facebook or Twitter.