You’ve heard of Marvel and DC Comics, but have you heard of Valiant? With the recent announcement of DMG Entertainment signing up with the publisher for future television and movie projects, here’s a walkthrough of what Valiant Comics is, and what properties you should keep an eye on.
What’s a Ninjack?
X-O Manowar! Shadowman! Magnus, Robot Fighter! Archer and Armstrong! Turok! These are but a handful of characters that have seen a resurgence under Valiant Comics, which has recently begun publishing pretty darn good comics as of late. Originally created in the early 90s, Valiant was the result of former Marvel editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter and a handful of investors attempting to buy out Marvel Comics. Unfortunately, their bid just wasn’t high enough, so they decided that as long as they were all together anyway, they might as well start their own company. Hand-picking a few artists and writers from Marvel, the motley crew decided to launch their own brand of books under the name, “Valiant Comics.” This was a situation that was somewhat similar to the other big competitor to Marvel comics, Image, which was a collection of Marvel creative folks who decided to move out on their own and create their own company. The 90s was an interesting time for comics, as it bred a lot of creativity when it came to branching out from the “Big Two.”
To give you a rundown of some of the characters I mentioned, X-O Manowar is closest to Marvel’s Iron Man in abilities and appearance, though his suit is alien in origin rather than manmade. Another difference from Tony Stark is that X-O is an alien king who apparently came from a distant land and time, eventually finding his way to Earth, using his sentient armor to fight threats both of Earth and the stars (I’m giving you the VERY abridged version here because you could practically write an essay for how much backstory this guy has). The most popular character of the universe arguably is Shadowman, a character with a pretty neat appearance and wide set of abilities including magical powers, super strength, healing factor, night vision, and more. The guy is basically a Swiss army knife. Shadowman is Jack Boniface, a jazz musician, who has a one-night stand with a mysterious woman. Waking up the next morning, the encounter has given Jack a brand-new set of powers, and a carnival mask that he uses to become the newest hero of the night. (Editor’s note: that seems like the ultimate best case scenario for a one-night stand. “Oh by the way, I think I might have given you … superpowers!”)
Magnus, Robot Fighter, was actually originally created in the 60’s and later acquired by Valiant Comics. Magnus himself hails from a far-away future where the world is ruled by AI, where he is raised by a unique robot who teaches him Kung Fu. How does he use these abilities, you may ask? Well he uses them to punch robots in the face of course! Yes, Magnus begins fist-fighting robots for the betterment of mankind, so think of this property as Terminator meets Rocky and you’re good to go. Turok is a Native American who hunts down dinosaurs, and you may know him from his several video games that have been released over the years. Finally, Archer and Armstrong is hailed as the “best buddy superhero comic of all time,” as it follows the adventures of a martial artist and his immortal best friend as they traverse the countryside fighting crime. Ultimately, it’s a ragtag group of super-powered individuals who fall under the Valiant banner, that’s for sure.
Valiant Comics eventually sold its properties to the video game producer, Acclaim, who had made many of the aforementioned Turok games, along with a game for Shadowman, and even a crossover between X-O Manowar and Marvel’s Iron Man (which was a long time before the Marvel Studios’ movies landed). Like so much else though, all good things must come to an end, and Acclaim Studios closed their doors in 2004, ending Valiant in the process. However, all was not lost! A year later, the company was bought by some new entrepreneurs, and Valiant saw a resurgence in 2012 with a relaunch of many of their properties under the banner, “The Summer of Valiant.” It was welcomed with critical acclaim, and has been producing some quality comic books ever since.
The books in question that saw new light were Archer and Armstrong, Bloodshot, Harbinger, and X-O Manowar. Essentially, new creative teams were brought on to reignite and reboot these properties, giving characters new origins and remaking them for the present. More series were then created, and we eventually got a team-up book between many of the heroes called, “Unity” along with a big crossover event sprinkled in. Valiant has the potential to go toe to toe with Marvel, DC, and Image, and it seems to be making its way to doing just that. All it needs now are a couple of movies under its belt, which appear to be on the way!
Lights! Camera! Turok!
With Valiant rebooted and retooled, it was really only a matter of time before their properties were option into major motion pictures. Cue the Chinese Media company, DMG Entertainment, who have co-financed movies such as Looper and Iron Man 3. With each passing year, China becomes a bigger source of revenue for movie studios, so it’s no surprise that a Chinese-based company would look to start mining additional US properties. Before this deal was made public however, there were in fact several deals already in play for movie versions of Valiant properties. Valiant was looking to create their own film for Harbinger, Sony Pictures was looking to make a film about Bloodshot, famed writer J. Michael Straczynski put together a script for Shadowman, and an adaptation for Archer and Armstrong was also in the works. The fate of these projects is now in question, in so far as whether they’ll happen as-is, or be approached differently moving forward.
While movies are certainly in the pipeline, DMG also made mention that the various heroes and villains of Valiant may also be brought into the world of television, with their brands expanded across the world. It’s funny to think that we live in a time where it seems to be an eventuality, rather than a question, as to when comic book properties will hit the mainstream. Frankly, I can’t wait to see a movie where a guy fist-fights a robot while in his underpants.