By Daniel Kibblesmith, Derek Charm, David Baron
“Welcome to Valiant High” (Part One of Four) is part of ComiXology Original’s exclusive digital content. This different take on the Valiant Universe is a breath of fresh air and just plain fun.
Written for new readers and established fans alike, Valiant High pulls characters from across the various titles and plunks them in an unexpected scenario – as high school students in a school for future heroes. While the storyline technically isn’t part of the current cannon, it nevertheless serves as a gateway to the Valiant Universe. Since the miniseries is available only in digital, it’s possible that this reimagining will have its own separate continuity. Regardless of how it fits into the grand scheme, it cannot be denied that the book is enjoyable.
Writer Daniel Kibblesmith crafts an engaging piece that provides remarkably good insight into the characters’ personalities. He’s done an excellent job of boiling down the characters to their core essence, then applying them to relatable high school archetypes. Despite this familiar setting, the characters and the situation are not trite.
The book functions as an introduction to the reimagined concept and the characters while gently easing into a plot. This method serves its purpose well for all readers. Even long-time fans benefit from the character round-up as there is no previous knowledge of where the chips fall. Some of the characters are teachers and administrators, others are students. These portrayals are where the book shines.
Kibblesmith approaches the school concept with humor and warmth that anyone can relate to, and the reworking of beloved characters into high school students is done so well that the oddity of it does not matter. It makes perfect sense, for example, that Bloodshot is a demanding coach and P.E. teacher.
The narrator of the story is Livewire (every bit as nerdy and awesome as you’d expect her to be) plus we are given prospective on storylines that don’t involve her. The Eternal Sophomore, the school’s certain-to-be homecoming king Aric, the ultra-cool girl Kris, the geeky Pete, the mean girl Flamingo, dumb jock toady Torque, mysterious Parker Lewis-esque Colin King – and too many others to list – all combine to make this an interesting cross-section of Valiant heroes as social commentary on the stratification of high school. It feels like Kibblesmith is fond of these characters, treating each fairly. He’s not afraid to poke fun at their quirks (The Twinkie Incident – never forget), but he never ridicules them.
There is some build-up to several storylines, and the overall feeling is light and airy. Like the comforting feeling of watching a favorite sitcom – the book is relatable, easily digestible, and satisfying.
Artist Derek Charm and colorist David Baron lend their considerable talents to the graphical story. The style is a good match for the story’s tone. It looks vibrant and feels youthful. Charm does a wonderful job with the character depictions, especially their various expressions as they deal with “life”. Baron’s colors are clear and make the imagery pop. Keeping the backgrounds simple both in color and structure keeps the eye focused.
In Valiant High, the freaks and geeks of the Valiant Universe rule the school. This fun book is full of win. A great choice for all ages without coming across as too young for adult readers. Don’t miss out on this fun reimagining of the Valiant Universe.