Robot 6

The Middle Ground #86 | X-O Manosnob

I was never a Valiant reader; they came around when I was in one of my then-periodic outs with comics as a medium and an industry, which were generally down to either distaste for what was happening to once favorite characters (Hal Jordan had gone insane?) or a depressing lack of money that’d restrict my purchases to whatever Grant Morrison was writing and little else. But even if I’d been paying more attention, I’m not sure that I would’ve jumped in with both feet and hoped for the best.

The early ’90s were a strange time for me and comics; I still kept in touch with what was going on in DC and Marvel comics – less so for the latter, in large part because I wasn’t the biggest fan of the creators or storylines therein – and was discovering what, I guess, would later come to be called something like “alternative comics” or the like (Deadline, with Philip Bond and Nick Abadzis and Jamie Hewlett and the lot, or the Tundra books, especially Illya’s Skidmarks or Dave McKean’s Cages, two things that really sent my brain flying), but all of the “new universes” that seemed to want to do what Marvel and DC had done thirty years earlier left me cold. Why would anyone want to sign on to another shared universe with multiple books to keep track of, I thought, with shifting creators and crossovers and the whole shebang? Weren’t Marvel and DC doing enough of that already…?

And so, I missed Valiant, and I missed Defiant, and I missed the Kirbyverse and the Ultraverse and all of those worlds. Well, I didn’t entirely miss the Ultraverse; a local store went out of business at one point, and in the “everything must go” sale, I grabbed pretty much a whole run of James Robinson’s Firearm, in large part because of my nascent love for Cully Hamner. It was a fun book, quirky and colorful but nothing that made me really want to push past it and join the Ultraverse proper afterwards.

(Many years later – last year, in fact – I’d find myself trawling through back issues, looking for Ultraverse books, lured by the weird promise of seeing later-period Steve Englehart and wondering what he’d get up to when freed from what he’d seemingly come to consider the increasingly heavy shackles of Marvel editorial. I also picked up some of the Topps Kirby books cheap, at the same time, half-wishing that I’d paid attention more at the time.)

All of this came to mind when reading Warren Simons and Robert Venditti talk about their relaunch of X-O Manowar today, and in particular reading Simons’ reaction to what he called the “IP” of the company: “The thing that I found, time and time again, whether it was X-O or Harbinger or Bloodshot, the core concepts driving the characters really are fantastic,” he said, “When you have that, you have the foundation for a really incredible universe. The thing about Valiant is that it’s not just about a single comic; it’s about the tapestry of the larger universe and how these characters play a role in it.”

When I read that, I had a moment of wanting to go back in time and slap my younger, hairier self on the back of the head and tell me to stop being so snobbish. It’s not that I’m convinced that Simons is correct (I have still, to this day, never read a Valiant book that isn’t Quantum and Woody, to my slight shame), but that I was so convinced that Marvel and DC had the shared universe idea “covered” at the time that I never even entertained the possibility that I might’ve been missing out by ignoring entire lines of comics. It really doesn’t matter, I’ve come to realize, what banner or universe a comic book may be part of; what’s more important is who’s behind it, and why they’re making it.

There’s something appealing to me about the way that Venditti talks about what his X-O is going to be, much like there’s something appealing in Brandon Graham and Simon Roy’s Prophet; I’m glad that I’ve gotten to the point when I can follow that interest wherever it leads, freed of concerns over what universe it belongs to or what other books I’ll “have to” pick up as a result. I can only shake my head at the comics I missed out on, back in the day, before I knew any better.

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I heartily recommend the early Valiant books. The later stuff? Not so much.
Shooter’s time at the company generated the best material.

Another criminally ignored Shooter work: the original Star Brand.

I’m sure they’re in it for the “movie money” and once the financiers realize that it’s not a good investment on return, the whole Valiant return will collapse on itself.

This article brought back some wonderful memories from 90s. Early X-O and Harbinger did a good job of subverting expectations. Zepyher was a wonderful character, a heavyset female super heroine. Who didn’t want “good skin” like Aric. Graeme, it is unfortunate that you did not have the extra money to purchase Valiant titles during the height of their popularity. You could have easily funded your comic habit. I remember people making extra income speculating. Yes, I know speculators killed the market but for a kid on an allowance it meant the world.

The early Archer & Armstrong stuff, like a lot of Barry Windsor-Smith’s 90s material really should be reprinted.

If I Had A Million Dollars I’d pay to have him finish the stories in Storyteller and then sell them as large format graphic novels. Because…I’d buy ‘em.

Try all X-O series drawn by Bart Sears, they wowed me.

Valiant managed to have a connected universe without going overboard. Yes there was the Unity Saga at the beginning which brought everyone together to make a single present day universe. But after that you would have the occasional character guest star, but that was it. It was more like the old Marvel universe where there would be common locations or background characters or references to things that were happening in other books. They added to the overall feel of the experience, but were not necessary for enjoyment or understanding. Would be nice to see the Big Two go back to that.

I know the first 6 issues or so of X-O were collected in a TPB. Not sure is anything else was.

So far, being a latecomer to comics, the only two Valiant Books I found to read (courtesy of Half Price Books) were the first issues of Turok Son of Stone, and Ninjak. Were either of those good to you guys?

Early Valiant is among the best comics ever produced. Check out Solar 1-10 and try to tell me those are not masterpieces. When you get through those I won’t have to recommend books, you will be hooked!

Early Valiant was perhaps the only company that was ever able to make the kind of fun, connected but not dependent upon comics universe since Lee and Kirby organically grew the Marvel Universe.

Valiant early did a fantastic job of making the world feel real, internally consistent. Spider Aliens were a threat, and might cross path with both heroes and villains in the Valiant world, but it was not some huge crossover event with that would “shake the Valiant universe to it’s foundations!”, it was just powerful people and groups operating in a world, occasionally crossing paths.

It didn’t last long, as more and more of the people instrumental to setting up Valiant got pushed out, but it was pretty damn good while it had steam.

Early Valiant was awesome stuff! Nearly every title was something special. At a time when DC and Marvel were publishing poopy comics (Hal Jordan and Tony Stark as villains, for example), Valiant was the best company.

The line suffered a big hit when Barry Smith left. But what killed the entire line was when they squeezed out Jim Shooter. At the speed of light, every Valiant title turned into elephant turds.

I’m not expecting much from this relaunch. Other than more elephant turds. Once a character has been completely ruined by misguided editors and crappy writers, it’s almost impossible for me to carry any more about that character (I never have been able to recover my love for Hal Jordan or Tony stark, for example). And believe me, they totally ruined X-O.

I collected full runs on X-O, Shadowman, Harbinger, Eternal Warrior & Solar, these were really great through the first crossover “Unity” and a bit up and down afterwards, but the first 25 Harbinger I thought were great, I would highly would recommend it.I have seen a Harbinger collection but I’m not sure what issues are included. Snowed in in Seattle, later!

It seems that every time when I get tired of what Marvel and DC publish Valiant starts back up again, this time they are actually a little late as I haven’t bought a comic since the middle of Dark Reign. I know the Acclaim series aren’t very highly regarded but I thought they were great fun and much more enjoyable then what the big two were publishing at the time

I have been a kooky Valiant collector (to answer, Ninjak and Turok were not the high points). Early Solar, Magnus, Archer and Armstrong, plus X-O are all quite good. Acclaim’s Quantum & Woody were the high point of the end of Valiant, but Shadowman was pretty darned good, too.

I’m hopeful for Valiant. Uncertain, but this could be big, again. It’s run by old fans of the old comics – geeks, themselves. I will be buying, for certain.

Even the late Valiant stuff was good. Rai, Magnus and the Psi Lords created a great “future” history trifecta.

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