Quite a few people are still afraid to stray away from the big two publishers and understandably so. After all, I rarely stepped away from Marvel and DC during my first year of collecting and when I did it was only for franchises I already loved such as Star Wars and Alien/Predator. Smaller companies are filled with characters you don't know at all, so diving into their unfamiliar universe and needing to play catch up can feel like a daunting task -- especially when each issue is above $2.99. I'm here to tell you there's no reason you should hesitate giving Valiant's new books a shot. None whatsoever.
"I don't know these characters!"And neither did I. My experience with Valiant before the 2012 relaunch was literally limited to playing 'Iron Man and X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal' on my Game Gear back in 1996. Each title does an absolutely superb job with its reboot; immediately filling you in on everything you'll need to know about the respective characters and does so in a highly entertaining manner. Honestly, other publishers should be concerned because Valiant is hitting a home run with every title so far and that's certainly not something you see everyday.
Trust me, you're not going to feel left in the dark here so that shouldn't be a concern. To top it off, playing catch up has never been easier. Each title is only around issue #5 now and trade paperbacks are on the way soon. Simply put: they're extremely new reader friendly, so don't be afraid to dip your toes into the oh-so lovely temperature of the Valiant pool.
"I can't afford $3.99 for new books!"Being a comic book fan is certainly an expensive hobby. If you're anything like me, odds are you're a little shocked at the total cost when you leave your local shop every Wednesday. So, adding more expenses on top of your already ridiculous total certainly isn't the most appealing thought. However, I assure you that you'll have no problem modifying your pull list to include Valiant. I'm sure there's more than a few books currently in your pull list that you're not in love with and you'll have no gripe casting those aside after you've read the likes of X-O MANOWAR, HARBINGER, BLOODSHOT or ARCHER & ARMSTRONG.
"Why should I care?"There's only four titles at the moment (SHADOWMAN to launch early November) and each one has managed to strike an incredibly different vibe; giving each issue a fresh and unique reading experience. Do you love sci-fi adventures involving an evil alien invasion, crazy technology and, apologies for the cliche, a man with nothing to lose? Then you need to check out X-O MANOWAR as Aric uses the advanced armor to battle The Vine, and more recently, Ninjak (a seriously awesome character). Or, perhaps you're in the mood for a R-rated action blockbuster with tons of blood and a shadowy military organization. If that's the case, pick up BLOODSHOT.
Want to know what would happen if a troubled and flawed dude turned out to have omega level psionic abilities? Read HARBINGER for that character driven story with an extra emphasis on powers. Or maybe you're looking for a feel good adventure filled loaded with laughs and crazy takes on issues currently facing the world? You'll want the buddy team-up book ARCHER & ARMSTRONG. My descriptions really don't do the quality of these books any justice... so if any premise even sounds remotely interesting to you, I implore you to give it a read.
"To infinity and beyond!"Recently at New York Comic-Con Valiant revealed its plans for the future. ARCHER & ARMSTRONG will introduce more characters from the huge universe (The Eternal Warrior), HARBINGER will begin to shift focus on assorted Harbingers at the foundation (and eventually form a team), as well as deliver Toyo Harada's origin story. BLOODSHOT will have more... well, blood, and X-O MANOWAR is building up to a rather cool looking story appropriately called 'Planet Death.'
Furthermore, SHADOWMAN will soon be out and that will dive into the darker corners of the Valiant universe. There's also plans to eventually have the titles intermingle, opening the door to potential crossover events. From there, who knows what other titles they plan to release? Fingers are crossed for Ninjak!
With brilliant creative teams behind each title, you're really only doing yourself a disservice if you continue to disregard Valiant's titles. Don't let the price tag scare you away, and more importantly, don't be too timid to step out of the big two's borders!
Are you already a Valiant fan? If so, why do you think the titles have been exceptional so far? And if you haven't read them yet, please be sure to check back with your thoughts when you do eventually give them a read!
Gregg Katzman is a freelance writer for Comic Vine and IGN Entertainment. He swears Valiant didn't pay him to write this.