By Daniel Kibblesmith, Derek Charm, David Baron
The Comixology original Valiant High #2 hit e-readers everywhere March 22nd. Part two of a four part series, “The Big Test” continues the dramedy featuring the Valiant universe super-powers in a high school setting.
This re-imagining of the Valiant universe is not part of the standard continuity, but remains loyal to the characters’ core traits. Writer Kibblesmith has penned a fun and engaging story whose main plot follows an awkward and gawky Livewire as she negotiates the perils of mean girls and driver’s ed. The secondary storyline follows new student Ninjak as he attempts to turn the hopeless case of Pete Stanchek into the school’s hotshot – at least on the surface. It appears that Ninjak has an ulterior motive, and Pete is unknowingly being swept up into it. Alongside these focus characters are a slew of the who’s who of the Valiant universe.
One of the benefits of this story being outside continuity is the inclusion of popular characters no longer living in the standard continuity or those who are temporarily not being featured. For instance, Kibblesmith has brought back Flamingo, a perfect fit for the boy-crazed mean girl role, and Eric of Quantum and Woody fame. The characters are mostly high school age with a few notable exceptions (looking at you, Eternal Sophomore), while some of the heroes serve as teachers and staff. Fans haven’t seen this many of the characters together in one book since The Valiant, which makes this book even more appealing.
The story is scripted like a teen movie, even naming one as the basis for one of the plot lines. Part of this book brought to mind an episode from 90s TV’s My So Called Life. This isn’t a negative, but rather it illustrates that Kibblesmith’s topics are universally relatable to anyone having gone through the social quicksand of high school.
Kibblesmith lets us get into the head of a key player (Livewire) but keeps the perspective of other characters to that of observers. We don’t know what’s going on in Harada’s mind, for example, and are left to guess his motivations. The same goes for the storyline involving Ninjak and Pete. We’re not privy to their thoughts, so we follow their action much like that of a camera. While Livewire is the narrator most of the time, her story is only part of the bigger picture. Seeing how these divergent storylines coalesce will be fun.
Artist Derek Charm and colorist David Baron bring this world to life. Charm’s characters are appealing. Especially gratifying is seeing his interpretation of rolling back the years for some of the characters who are now high schoolers. Baron gives the piece pops of color that makes it feel youthful and dynamic. The overall feel of the book is energetic.
Valiant High #2 is a jocular and entertaining read that should delight fans new and old. Pick this one up and get ready to go back to school.