Where to Start With Valiant Comics

An Alternative Superhero Universe

Valiant Comic Book Superheroes
Valiant Comics

Whereas alternative music has since lost all meaning as a description of rock and roll, Valiant Comics is a truly legitimate alternative superhero comic book publisher.

Sure Marvel and DC Comics get all the credit for their Big 2 heroes, but meanwhile you have Valiant Comics churning out consistently high quality books about superpowered adventure, all within their own uniquely crafted universe.

Simply put, Valiant Comics offers a great alternative to newer comic book fans, with a relaunched universe dating back to 2012 (rather than 1961).

Here are some of my favorite comics from Valiant that would make solid jumping on points:

Summer of Valiant - The 2012 Relaunches

  • X-O Manowar
  • Shadowman
  • Archer & Armstrong
  • Bloodshot
  • Harbinger

Quick history lesson: Valiant Comics was actually founded in the early 1990’s, in part by former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter. The former Marvel head honcho (known for projects such as Secret Wars, and a *ahem* tough editorial reign) placed an emphasis on airtight comics continuity (down to the minute!) and modernizing the birth of an Earth with superpowers.

The early Valiant years are fascinating, occasionally quite brilliant early 90’s comics, with talent like Barry Windsor-Smith and Bob Layton developing concepts that would go on to form what we know today as Valiant Comics.

Like many great ideas, though, Valiant lost its spark about mid-way through the decade, and despite cross-media promotions like an X-O Manowar/Iron Man video game (no really, that exists), the publisher was extinct until 2012.

The Summer of Valiant relaunch began with the above mentioned titles, all remenants from Valiant’s true origins. The 2012 new origins are remarkably consistent in quality, with a broad variety of style.

Honestly, they all make for some excellent reads depending on your mood. X-O Manowar is barbarian/space alien mash-up, Harbinger is X-Men reimagined with corporate overlords, Shadowman is supernatural sorcery, Bloodshot is unkillable government mercenary, and Archer & Armstrong is a buddy odd couple comedy/adventure.

At this point, all 5 of these series are deeper into 40 issue runs, with plenty of divergent event streams. Nonetheless, starting with the first 6 issue volumes of each will give you a great feel for the modern Valiant universe, and which series you are most likely to fall for.

Valiant Wave 2

  • Quantum & Woody
  • The Delinquents
  • Rai
  • Ninjak
  • Unity

Valiant’s second wave of additions achieved the fairly unlikely feat of uniformly enhancing the line of comics. Whether it was longtime comedic fan-favorite Quantum & Woody, or long-forgotten futuristic tech-samurai Rai, all of these series come out of the gate strong, and are worth a read.

One prevailing theme through these books is Valiant’s trust in writer Matt Kindt, the comics mastermind behind Mind MGMT (only my 6th favorite comic book series of all time. No big deal.)

Kindt pens Rai, Ninjak, and Unity, and while all are varying degrees of smart and fun, Unity achieves the masterful stroke of, well, uniting a Valiant universe superteam in the grand tradition of the Avengers or Justice League. The book turns a lot of these superteam tropes on their head, though, providing a thoroughly enjoyable experience for anyone newly committed to the Valiant Universe.

Critically Acclaimed and Respected

  • The Valiant
  • Divinity
  • The Book of Death

The trick that has impressed me the most to date is Valiant’s ability to find a third act of life with prestige miniseries. This is a challenge we see all the time in comics, perhaps most notably with DC’s New 52. Once the thrill of “new” has worn off, where do you turn to maintain acclaim and value in the eyes of your readers?

Valiant has found an answer in prestige limited series from some of Comic’s top talent, including Jeff Lemire (Essex County, Sweet Tooth) and Matt Kindt.

All three series here are easy to pick up and enjoy without needing to read every comic in the Valiant U, which is particularly miraculous for a title like the Valiant.

Wait, There’s More

There's more than just the above, such as Armor Hunters, Dead Drop, The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage, or Eternal Warrior.

For now, you’ve got everything you need to get started with the Valiant Universe. Enjoy the comics!