This Free Comic Book Day, Valiant is putting out an issue with three different previews of some of their best books: Shadowman, X-O Manowar, and Harbinger Wars 2: The Prelude. All in all, it’s a great introduction to a superhero universe on par with the Big Two.
Shadowman #1 Preview
By Andy Diggle, Stephen Segovia, Ulises Arreola, Simon Bowland
This Shadowman #1 preview is a quick paced romp through the character’s universe. There’s not much time to explain what’s actually going on in its eight pages. On the bright side, there’s good reason for it; Segovia’s pencils dominate with a few big spreads and action panels that absolutely set the tone for this series. In terms of content, this story offers a couple more pages than what a typical comic preview would look like. Those curious about the character himself might not get exactly what they’re looking for, but it certainly gives enough to spark an interest in what Shadowman is up to.
X-O Manowar #14 Preview
By Matt Kindt, Ariel Olivetti, Dave Sharpe
Though not shown in this preview, X-O Manowar is the conceptual combination of Iron Man and Captain America, but even more hyperbolic. This preview sets up what seems to be a welcoming story for newcomers as well as an emotional one for readers who have stuck with Aric since the beginning. If that isn’t enough, Ariel Olivetti’s art is some of the best there is. His style is reminiscent of Alex Ross’, but it has a really distinct quality to it that definitively proves the mettle of comics artists. Olivett’s teamwork with Kindt has been lauded by the Eisner awards (and this site) since the series started up again back in 2017. If you’re curious about what the hype has been about, look no further.
Harbinger Wars 2: Prelude #1 Preview
By Eric Heisserer, Raúl Allén, Patricia Martín
The team from Secret Weapons makes their return to the Valiant Universe with this preview of Harbinger Wars 2: Prelude #1. With some of the team’s recent Secret Weapons one-offs, this team has shown a real devotion to playing with comics as a format, and they continue to do so in the first few pages here. Heisserer pretty clearly sets up the beginnings of Valiant’s next big event while showing Livewire’s talents off for new readers. Allén, meanwhile draws and colors beautifully. Martín shows how important letterers are in comics in the first page of the preview, using her talents to characterize Livewire. The team’s combined efforts really are like clockwork.
Reading this issue for free really feels like robbery. Valiant shows its devotion to its characters and its stories in really sparse moments here, and it highlights the best parts of the publisher. Readers can see that especially as they look at each story. No two previews look the same, whether in terms of straight art style, or even in panel layouts. They let their creators tell experiment when they tell stories, and it seems that they know the value artists and letterers provide a comic with. If you’re not a Valiant fan already, this will convert you.