V for Valiant: Episode 001 – Valiant Start
Welcome to the very first type-cast for V for Valiant, where myself and Alex Mansfield will dive into the rich world of Valiant and hopefully by the end of it we’ll have convinced a few of you to pick up some issues and give this amazing universe a try.
Tyler: First things first, Alex, how the hell are you?
Alex: Should I answer into the microphone? Why did I buy this thing? Oh, sorry. Hey Tyler, I am positively resplendent!
Tyler: Let’s get into what you’ve read and haven’t read from the current Valiant Universe (better known as VEI) and what got you started on Valiant.
Alex: This current Valiant Universe is staggeringly impressive and I’ve been enjoying it thoroughly over the past few months. To be honest, I’ve only really been reading since about early last Fall when I began my All-Comic mission to review all the trades (or close to it). I had picked up Archer and Armstrong #1 when it originally was released and that was my very first venture into the VEI. That issue was phenomenal, but given my reading habits, figured I’d wait until some collections were produced before going full-bore into Valiant. Since then, I’ve discovered and practically across the board really loved all the other series especially X-O Manowar, Eternal Warrior and Quantum and Woody.
Tyler: Forcing you to review the books worked! Now I just have to do that with a ton more people… All jokes aside, for me I started right at the beginning and picked everything up. I fell off books like Shadowman and Harbinger, though I did go back and read Harbinger Wars and I’m going to get the deluxe Harbinger proper and continue with it, and actually eventually fell off of almost everything else except for X-O Manowar. Easily, X-O is the crown jewel of the VEI line. I actually started with X-O a few months before it released because I had met Cary Nord at the Calgary Expo and he signed two copies and gave them to me, for free. I guess in owe all my currently Valiant love to Cary.
Alex: Wow, that’s a pretty solid entryway. Cary, call me, I like signed books too! He did such amazing work on that opening arc of X-O, I can’t really imagine not becoming an instant devotee to that series. You call the crown jewel and I’ve expressed similar sentiment in the reviews and it really is. Robert Venditti has had such control with how he’s shaped that book and the world-building that occurs within is, literally, stellar. I know that I was immediately hooked with the art and the ancient setting, but I was blown away once I saw that Vine ship and their intricately detailed culture with flora and whatnot. Plus, a raging Visigoth in a nigh-indestructible living weapon is pretty much a recipe for solid action comics. Shadowman was a disappointment to me, but Harbinger‘s concept grabbed me and the character of Toyo Harada was instantly amongst my favorites. That deluxe edition looks gorgeous by the by.
Tyler: The deluxe Harbinger Wars is fantastic, for sure. Have to read it all again, but it looks great and I’m a sucker for hardcovers. I think the start of Bloodshot was actually pretty good too, I can’t remember why I ever stopped reading it, frankly, I think my focused just changed to Marvel and I got caught up in that hype. This, admittedly, has almost completely worn off. But, speaking of hype and getting away from Marvel, what are you most excited for out of the Valiant NEXT initiative? I must say that a Lemire Bloodshot Reborn and Kindt Ninjak certainly have me excited to be a Valiant fan. This new character that might be a replacement for Solar, in Divinity has me really curious too. Then of course there’s this week’s Imperium where we get to catch up with Harada and see what he’s been up to.
Alex: *grabbing microphone* NINJAK!!!!!!!! I don’t mean to go all Kanye on you, and Bloodshot is a great character and all, but Ninjak is the greatest of all time. All time! *clears throat* To answer your question Tyler, I’m rather looking forward to the Ninjak book. He holds a special place in my heart largely because growing up in the 90s ninjas were basically the pinnacle of childhood’s perception of awesome, not to mention he is an arrogant, rich European purple-clad ninja and if that doesn’t sound amazing to you, then dear listeners (readers), we will never understand each other. Other than that, I think it all is really exciting including Lemire’s Bloodshot Reborn and Van Lente’s Ivar, Timewalker. The Valiant Universe just isn’t right without one of the Anni-Padda brothers walking (and, you know, murdering bad guys) around. You did bring up a sore spot there though by mentioned the lack of Solar which was one of the original Valiant’s books that I really enjoyed growing up and am very much missing in their current Universe, but I think you’re right with Divinity being a stand-in and hopefully one that can fill that role and move beyond that. I’m anxious to see what Imperium‘s structure is going to be like, so I’m picking that up for sure. Tyler, how do you feel about Ninjak? Is it great? I bet you feel great about it.
Tyler: Ninjak is pretty great, definitely. I’m annoyed that you stole that review out from under me, actually, but I suppose you’ll do an okay job on it… maybe. I actually just read the first Valiant Masters volume for Ninjak and ended up liking the character even more, even though that ridiculous suit and probably the majority of that origin doesn’t really apply any more. I guess we’ll find out much they choose to keep when Ninjak drops. But, yes, Ninjak is great.
Alex: I like how you answered that as though there could possibly be any other answer. I do look forward to reviewing the series, which at this point looks like it’s going to be another hit. Valiant has quite the stable of characters to tap into at this point, and I think they’re doing a great job using them each sparingly and keeping the number of monthly titles at a real sweet-spot number. Unlike some other publishers, it’s more than possible to follow every title currently being printed and really makes for a very organic shared universe.
Tyler: Definitely. Keep their titles to nine a month (good number) is very smart. It keeps it manageable for new fans to follow it all, as you said, and it also allows them to focus on the quality of each book. Instead of having 15-20 books or more suddenly out from Valiant and having, say, 80% of them being okay or less, Valiant has nine books that I’d argue are all great in their own ways, even if some of them stand a little higher than others.
Alex: Yeah, their quality control at the moment is top notch. (Do the kids say that, “top notch”? No? I am old). But sure, there are some that stand a little higher as you say. What do you think is currently on the top of the heap, X-O? Or, say you’re a new reader who’s heard a lot about Valiant but doesn’t know which one to start with, what would you recommend of the current output?
Tyler: To start now? I’d say X-O Manowar #33 that’s out this week. One off story that’s touted as that all important “jump on point” but in the same breath I’d also suggest The Valiant. It introduces you to some key characters, the art is crazy good, and most certainly will get a new reader hooked. Then again, any of the Valiant NEXT stuff would probably work and if you like what you see you can work your way backwards.
Alex: I love The Valiant so damn much. Yeah, heck even Ivar, Timewalker has virtually no barrier to entry. “Hey do you like Doctor Who but wanted him to shoot more people? Here ya go!” So, it seems the consensus here is that Valiant is effectively killing it, and has been since their 2012 relaunch, and the current Valiant NEXT initiative is a chance for further killing of it. Lots of killing happening up in here and I look forward to diving into all of it as we voraciously venture deeper into Valiant on future episodes (columns). Praise be to Ninjak. I should really return this microphone then huh?
Tyler: You have problems, Alex. But, that’s something for another time and someone with a medical degree to figure out. I want to thank you and all three people who read this for joining us today. Expect much more Valiant talk to come as we move through Valiant NEXT and beyond. Remember, remember… this is called V for Valiant. That worked, right?