by Josh Starnes, CMRO Editor
Long-time comic book fans are sure to remember when adding the newest issue of any of Valiant’s titles was just as imperative as picking up the latest X-Men or Batman title. The new owners of the Valiant brand seem intent on piggy backing on those sorts of fond memories and by all accounts they are succeeding. The new/old publisher announced this week that it had sold out of its print-run for “Archer & Armstrong” #1–the fourth of its launch titles all of which came out this summer–at the same time they were adding “Shadowman” to their schedule this fall.
Closed since the final attempt to relaunch the series in 2000 with Unity 2000, the Valiant brand was bought from final owner Acclaim during that company’s own insolvency and relaunched this summer by former Marvel CEO Peter Cuneo and Hollywood entering Dinesh Shamdasani with fresh new takes on X-O Manowar, Harbinger and Bloodshot.
With the so-called ‘Summer of Valiant’ nearing its conclusion the company announced that it planned to have 15 titles in rotation by 2015, an ambitious plan by any standards, and is preparing its books to be able to minimize reader drop off and keep audiences coming back for more.
“Every new arc is a fresh “jumping on” point for readers. We’re really working hard to make each story-arc as new-reader friendly as possible,” Shamdasani told Newsarama on Monday. “We’re very lucky to have a tremendous first couple months here at Valiant; it exceeded our expectations on all levels. We have a lot of options going forward, and it all follows a very specific plan Fried Pierce put together in the past few years. We’ve been doing a lot of long-term planning, even before our first book came out.”
“The great thing about the Valiant Universe is that there’s something very exciting around every corner. I think we have a great opportunity to build something definitive and lasting. We’re not just jamming pieces together in our broader storytelling though; there’s logic underpinning all of our ties between the titles. I talk with the writers at-length about creating great individual titles and a great universe, and I’m excited with what we’ve come up with,” Executive Editor Walter Simmons added.
Old characters aren’t the only part of Valiant lore the publisher aims to bring back. At the Valiant panel at Comic Con the company announced it would be bringing back its Gold Logo program, issuing ultra-rare gold variant issues to fans who show their support for the company in a big way.
The Valiant staff plans to dig into its archives as well, looking to please both the old and new fan. Solicited for this October they company will be releasing Valiant Masters “Bloodshot” Vol. 1 containing the inaugural Bloodshot story arc from the first books run, along with a new original unprinted story from that era by the original “Bloodshot” team of writer Kevin Van Hook and artist Don Perlin.
“People may not remember this, but I too was part of the original Valiant line-up, as V.P. of Manufacturing and Operations,” new publisher Frank Pierce said. “I’d been gone from Valiant for almost twenty years, but still everyone asks about my time at Valiant so it’s great for me to come back full circle as publisher.”
After its successful launch in 1991, Valiant Comics grew to be one of the most popular brands in US comics. However, two years after its launch co-founder Jim Shooter was forced out of the company and print runs and numbers of titles were escalated to take advantage of the 1990′s comic book speculator boom. Finally, Valiant was sold to video game company Acclaim shortly before mid-1990s speculator crash leading to a period of transition for the company as it went through several creative hands while Acclaim upper management attempted to launch video games based on its characters including Shadowman and Turok. The cost of the acquisition proved too much as video game sales also dipped and Acclaim was eventually sold to Activision in bankruptcy while its holdings, including Valiant, were gradually sold off.
The Valiant publishing relaunch is not the only place to find some of the favorite characters from that period. Starting in 2010, Valiant founder and original editor-in-chief Jim Shooter has been writing the adventures of the Valiant’s licensed Gold Key heroes–Magnus: Robot Fighter, Doctor Solar and Turok: Son of Stone–for Dark Horse Comics.