Without A Net

Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

USC grad helps resurrect 1990s comics company Valiant

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38505 full

L.A. Weekly took a look at the resurrection of Valiant Comics, a comic book company whose heyday was in the early 1990s but whose relevance slowly deteriorated before the comics ceased publication and its parent company entered bankruptcy in 2004.

An inspirational story to be sure, though there were a few details not included in the story that I thought were worth mentioning.

The best known of the original Valiant's characters is arguably Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, a character initially created in the 1950s but who Valiant picked up the rights to in the '90s. He starred in a line of successful video games. Several other Valiant characters became video game stars; video game company Acclaim Entertainment purchased the company in the mid-'90s and put the focus on the characters more as potential video game stars, and when that success didn't continue in either the Valiant line or other franchises, the company shut down in the early 2000s.

So where's Turok now? Turok, along with several other licensed characters, aren't included in the new relaunch, with the rights to the characters not under the domain of the new Valiant.

The three characters being relaunched under the new Valiant are X-O Manowar, Harbinger and Bloodshot. They also own the rights to several other characters who haven't been given their own titles yet, such as Shadowman (who also spawned his own '90s video game) and Ninjak.

Also, I think this line may show the bias of a Valiant fan: "In the original [Valiant] comics, when heroes interacted, it was always part of well-structured story arcs rather than the gimmick editions Marvel and DC put out teaming up Batman and Superman to boost sales." Let's not kid ourselves; putting multiple popular characters into one book is almost always meant to generate sales. The quality of those can be hit or miss no matter what the company is; both DC and Marvel have done crossovers widely hailed as classics among fans, while other crossovers are seen as marketing gone awry and fill fans with nausea. (It's also a little funny coming from a company whose '90s incarnation was known for releasing comics with chromium covers as their sales gimmick.) 

It's also interesting to note that the two friends behind the new Valiant, who did it out of a childhood love for the characters, have been fighting to see their vision enacted since 2005; they tried bringing in original Valiant creator Jim Shooter as editor-in-chief, but he left in controversy and went to write some of the characters Valiant no longer had the rights to for a rival company. A comics relaunch was targeted for 2010, according to a lawsuit filed against Shooter after he left, but it took another two years beyond that for this vision to come to fruition.

Will it be a success? Comics are in a delicate state right now, with comic book sales largely on a downward trend. This isn't the first attempt to resurrect Valiant, either; like many comic companies, it's been through several relaunches. The attempt by a rival company to publish a line of comics based on the other Valiant characters that the new Valiant doesn't have the rights to failed, with only a few issues being published.

Of course, Valiant's smart enough to know that; they're already trying to develop the characters into films, including a Harbinger film with director Brett Ratner attached, known for movies like "Rush Hour" and who worked on the X-Men franchise. They might not hit the numbers of "The Avengers," but it's an approach that could pay off in a bigger way than comic books.

Maybe they'll even get back into the video game business.

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