Valiant gathered their ranks and hoisted their banners at Heroes Con to lay out the game plan well into their “Summer of Valiant” and beyond for fans. In a panel hosting a wide array of writers, artists, and guiding forces in the company, they previewed and discussed their titles and hinted at things on the horizon. Creators present included Robert Venditti (XO MANOWAR), Matt Kindt (BLOODSHOT #0), Tom Fowler (QUANTUM & WOODY), Justin Jordan (SHADOWMAN), and Brian Reber (SHADOWMAN), and they were joined by Jody LeHeup (Associate Editor), Fred Pierce (Chief Publisher), and Dinesh Shamdasani (Chief Creative Officer), while moderated by Hunter Gorinson (Marketing and Communications Officer).
Gorinson described this time period as a “big push” for two of their new series, including the “first chapter” of QUANTUM and WOODY, a “reinvention of the classic comic” from the 90’s Valiant line featuring “the world’s worst superhero team”. And there will be goats involved, Valiant more than hinted. In keeping with their “talking covers” whereby scanning a cover results in audio components, there will indeed be a talking Goat featured on QUANTUM and WOODY. A member of the audience held up his smartphone to play a sampling of the strangeness to come. Tom Fowler was asked how he “wound up” on the book, and he delved into his background as a comic shop employee in the ‘90’s when the comics first came out to working on covers for ARCHER and ARMSTRONG before being asked to do a “super top secret thing” that took him strange places regarding goat heads. He also commented, explaining some art slides being shown, that “comics fans love naked men”, as shown in QUANTUM and WOODY when adoptive brothers survive “dissipating on an atomic level”. Gorinson added that coming up on IGN, there will be a QUANTUM and WOODY weekly webcomic feature on Wednesdays by James Asmus and Ty Templeton for a four month period.
X-O MANOWAR was Valiant’s first newly launched title about one year ago, and the end of its first arc, “Planet Death” is coming up in issue #14. Mild spoilers were provided, aided by Robert Venditti, that alien races were introduced in issue #13 to the Valiant universe for the first time, and will continue as a factor going forward. Venditti is particularly excited that in the next “long arc”, a confrontation with Eternal Warrior is brewing, something he’s been planning since his original pitch on the series.
BLOODSHOT #0 is due out in July, written by the award-winning indie creator Matt Kindt (MIND MGMT) in the “3rd wave of the Summer of Valiant”, and will finally feature an origin story for the titular character, something that has never been done before in the title, deemed “one of the mysteries of Valiant”. Kindt described the book as going back to World War II, and related that when reading BLOODSHOT as a fan, the origin story was something he was waiting to read, so working on the book makes him feel like “I want to read that one”. The issue will contain the history of more than one version of Bloodshot in different eras, and the WWII setting also satisfied some of Kindt’s creative urges. “I really wanted to have him fighting a tank”, Kindt confessed. The book will also pose and answer some questions about Bloodshot’s humanity in the face of his reputation as a simply a “killing machine”.
In the first book to be released as a title never published by Valiant in the 90’s, BLOODSHOT and H.A.R.D CORPS, Bloodshot is slated to take over as a leader of a new H.A.R.D CORPS team in what Shamdesani described as “Philip K. Dick mixed with Valiant” and “crazy cerebral” in content. Also this summer in the next ongoing series for the summer initiative, Valiant will release ETERNAL WARRIOR #1 featuring the “greatest tactician the world has ever seen”. ETERNAL WARRIOR #1 will focus on the premise that the originally ancient character will confront the circumstances that led to the estrangement of his own children which comes down to a paradigm that’s “really about a father and his daughter”.
SHADOWMAN, also an ongoing title written by Justin Jordan, has some dark aspects lying ahead, particularly in Jack’s struggle to find his identity without much help from others. ARCHER and ARMSTRONG #10 is going to reintroduce the “land of Faraway” to the story, a place that Gorinson described as a “repository of every single crazy thing in history”. Other upcoming issues from Valiant will include HARBINGER WARS #3 and H.A.R.D. CORPS #3. Valiant also made two special announcements, the first that a new line of t-shirts and merchandise were now available to fans, including t-shirts from the company Cinderblock, who also make t-shirts for Radiohead. Their second big announcement was that in October, a new Signature Series will be released at the rate of one per month wherein creators from the past update covers, bringing the original Valiant teams “back into the fold”. At the end of the year, lastly, Gorinson said, we can expect a new event called “Unity” across the titles, which is “something new”. “This will be the best place to try what Valiant has going on” Gorinson also explained.
The Question session was particularly lively, especially in a packed room with full-color slides of upcoming artwork. One audience member asked specifically if Valiant had a “business plan” a year ago when they launched, and if they had reached the point that they expected to reach, as publishers. Shamdesani even confirmed that they are “5-10%” ahead of their business plan at the moment. Shamdesani also explained that the ethos of Valiant is very much “slow& steady” to produce a quality, well-paced line of work rather than putting out lesser stories and not “getting them right” the first time. One last revelation was that Matt Kindt may be doing more for Valiant in the future beyond BLOODSHOT #0. There was a wild round of applause at this reveal. The panel was an excellent way for long-time readers and newer enthusiasts to get a broad visual and narrative understanding of the different Valiant titles and how they interact, however even those well up on their Valiant history must have heard and seen a few surprises, too. The Summer of Valiant is shaping up to be an Autumn of Valiant, a Winter of Valiant, and one might even speculate further ahead about a company that has come so far with such professional standards in only one year.
Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress. Find her bio here.