On the tenth anniversary of Free Comic Book Day, Blake and Kenny set up camp at BSI Comics in Metairie and chat with fans, pros, and fellow podcasters about everything! In this episode: a spoiler-free discussion of The Avengers, our thoughts on the DC Nation cartoon block including Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice, discussions of the free comics on sale, Kurt Amacker tells us about his new graphic novel Tad Caldwell and the Monster Kid, and we chat with the hosts of the Nola Nerd podcast and Adam from the Graphic Panels podcast. In the picks, Adam recommends Earth 2 #1 and Blake (surprising virtually no one) talks about the first issue of the new X-O Manowar. And the free stuff isn’t over — Blake is giving away free downloads of his superhero novel Other People’s Heroes! Just go to Smashwords.com, use the coupon code XG56X, and download the book in your preferred eReader format! (Coupon expires on May 20, 2012.) Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!
Posts Tagged ‘Rai
Tags: 2 in 1 Showcase, Atomic Robo, Avengers, David Aja, Earth 2, Eternal Warrior, Free Comic Book Day, Green Lantern, Harbinger, Hawkeye, James Robinson, Kurt Amacker, Nicola Scott, Planetary, podcast, Rai, Spider-Man, Tad Caldwell and the Monster Kid, The New 52, Valiant Comics, X-O Manowar, Young Justice
Last week’s DC Comics news was pretty ginormous, but this week I look into some stuff that kind of got lost in the noise — including a big announcement from Valiant Entertainment and the events of Fear Itself #3.
In this week’s Classic EBI, we’re going back to April 9, 2008, the last time Valiant had an announcement to make. Let’s see if this one sticks…
Everything But Imaginary #259: A Valiant Return
Back in the summer of 1993, I wasn’t really mobile. I was 15 and didn’t have a car, or a driver’s license, or a friend with a car or driver’s license, or a particularly reliable pogo stick. If I wanted to go anywhere, I pretty much had to catch a ride with somebody. I did, however, have a best friend (Shane Overstreet – how ya doin’ out there, buddy?) whose stepdad frequented the dollar cinema, and so I caught a lot of cheap movies with them. Also in that same strip mall was a small comic shop, different from the one I frequented with my Uncle Joe (hey, Joe!), and always worth checking out. I don’t remember much about that shop – the name, the owner, even the layout – but I do remember the day I walked into the store to see two books I’d never heard of before: Magnus: Robot Fighter #24 and Rai and the Future Force #9.
Flipping through these two books, I quickly realized that they were not just part of the same universe, but the beginning of the same story. The Magnus issue was the end of a four-part arc, but led into Rai, and together made up the beginning of what would be known as the “Malevalent War” storyline. The books were pretty exorbitantly priced for me – a whopping $2.25 each – but they were written by John Ostrander and they had cool new sci-fi based superheroes and they actually mentioned Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics and did I really need to get popcorn at the dollar cinema, since that’s where they all made their money anyway?
I bought the books.
Thus, I was introduced to the Valiant Universe.
Both books, despite their high price point, got added to my pull folder immediately. A month later on the Internet (yeah, I was already on the Internet back then, but at the time it was actually on the Prodigy service) I ranked both of the comics among my monthly favorites. This prompted an e-mail from one of the Valiant Employees who wanted my address. A few days later in the mail I got a free gold edition of Rai #9 just for making that message board post. Valiant did stuff like that back in the day.
As I was writing this column, I dug out that old gold edition just to scan in the cover. Within seconds, I was reading it all over again. (I want to stress here – in a week where my new comic book purchases included such surefire gems as Justice Society of America, Peter Tomasi on Green Lantern Corps and the new volume of The Complete Peanuts, I took time out to read a book that’s 15 years old and that I’ve read a thousand times… because it was there.) Even completely cold, I grasped this story immediately. Earth was being invaded by evil robots. Among its heroes was a man who was raised to fight robots, a new hero who had taken up the mantle of a dead one, the dead man’s wife (who was none too happy), a strange guy in a hood, an immortal warrior, a guy who turned into a robot-killing monster when he was scared, a narcissistic swashbuckler and a pair of lowbrow, gun-toting warriors. And in this one issue, we saw them all come together and become a real team. This was, I learned, the first issue of Future Force. The previous Rai had died a few issues before, and the book was being retooled. But I grasped everything instantly and loved everything just as fast.
I soon found out that this was actually the distant future of a contemporary universe populated by such books as Harbinger, X-O Manowar, Eternal Warrior, Shadowman and Solar: Man of the Atom. I couldn’t afford all of these books, but the ones I did start to pick up were fantastic. At the time, Image Comics was still relatively new and hugely popular, and most of the comic book industry was becoming heavily artist-centric as a reaction. Valiant, on the other hand, was a company focusing on story first, which is what I’m all about. This was a universe whose heroes were flawed and realistic, but still managed to tell larger, epic stories without losing any of the punch. Every book was among the best-written titles on the stands, and although critics would sometimes claim the company had a “house art style,” with artists as diverse as Barry Windsor-Smith, David Lapham, Bob Layton, Joe Quesada and Sean Chen, I simply didn’t see it.
Unfortunately, like all candles that burn twice as bright, Valiant only shone for half as long as it should. Less, even. After the publisher got white-hot, the investment company that backed it sold it off to video game maker Acclaim for a reported $65 million. Acclaim was predictably more interested in mining the company for game concepts than putting out quality comics. The company flickered and they tried to reignite it with “Birthquake” – a pseudo-event that gave many of the titles new creative teams and new “beginnings,” as it were. It didn’t catch on, and the Valiant Universe died.
They then tried to resurrect the line as “Valiant Heroes,” a sort of “Earth-2” or “Ultimate” approach to the line, and there were a few solid books there, most notably Mark Waid and Sean Chen’s X-O Manowar, Kurt Busiek and Neil Vokes’s Ninjak and Christopher Priest and M.D. Bright’s Quantum and Woody. Within two years, though, that line too was dead. There was a third relaunch attempt, but the six-issue Unity 2000 miniseries vanished after just three issues, and there was no Valiant at all for a while. And the world became a sadder place.
But the fans never forgot. Websites were prolific. Costumes never vanished from conventions. Podcasts were launched. And even though the back issues no longer command the hefty price they did back in the company’s heyday, they still move.
Then, last year, something we’d been waiting to hear for seven years was announced. Valiant’s Harbinger would be getting a new hardcover collection courtesy of the company that bought Valiant from Acclaim on auction. And as if that wasn’t good enough, it would include a new story by the property’s creator, Jim Shooter. There is a highly-technical industry term for this sort of announcement: “awesome sauce.”
The resurrection was almost derailed, however, when a second company emerged claiming to hold the trademark to many of the Valiant titles, including Harbinger. The situation was kind of complex, and I already discussed it in Everything But Imaginary #227, but a few months ago a settlement was reached. Valiant Entertainment, Inc. was given the copyright and trademark to the Valiant Universe, and because of that, today I purchased the hardcover collection of the first eight issues (#0-7) of Harbinger.
And there was much rejoicing.
Now it’s a waiting game. Will Harbinger sell? What about the next hardcover, X-O Manowar, which will go on sale in a few weeks? And most importantly, will they sell enough for the new Valiant to do what it really wants to do: namely, take a chance on producing new comic books featuring the Valiant Universe?
Obviously, I hope so. The fact that there’s an audience is inarguable – the question is whether that audience can sustain the universe’s return. And which properties will return? Three of the big ones – Magnus: Robot Fighter, Solar: Man of the Atom and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter were never actually owned by Valiant, but instead licensed from defunct publisher Western. They may not be able to return. On the other hand, Solar appears in the Harbinger hardcover, so maybe something can be arranged.
Whatever, however it happens, there are a lot of old-school Valiant fans waiting for this. There were a ton of comic book universes that were born and died in the 90s, but none of them command the love and loyalty that Valiant still draws from its fans today. And maybe, just maybe, this week we’ve begun to see that loyalty pay off.
Favorite of the Week: April 2, 2008
Geoff Johns is a greedy, greedy man. Like it’s not bad enough that I feel compelled to make every issue of Booster Gold, Green Lantern and Justice Society of America my pick of the week, now he’s gone and turned Action Comics into the best Superman comic since… hell, possibly since I started reading. The Legion of Super-Heroes arc ends with this issue, and it ends in as exciting a fashion as I’ve ever seen. Superman and the Legion bring it big-time here, and Johns and Gary Frank managed to create one of those classic pages where I almost feel bad for the villain, because I can just feel the beatdown he’s about to receive. And the teaser at the end alone was almost enough – Johns and George Perez on a Legion of Three Worlds miniseries? My God, I should just engrave the “favorite of the week” plaques now.
Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page, and check out his new experiment in serial fiction at Tales of the Curtain.
It’s the episode Blake and Chase have been hoping to record for over ten years now! (That’s right. Even before podcasting existed.) The Valiant Universe — home of heroes such as Harbinger, X-O Manowar, Archer and Armstrong and Rai and the Future Force — is slowly making a return with new hardcover editions, and the promise of new comics to come. This week, the guys tell you their favorite Valiant stories, cross their fingers for the return for Magnus: Robot Fighter and Solar: Man of the Atom to the line, and explain how they would resurrect Valiant as a line of ongoing comics. In the picks this week, Blake cheers for the return of Firebreather and Chase is still in love with Green Lantern: Secret Origin. In the next two weeks we’re going to talk Wanted and Mark Millar, then an episode focusing on our favorite Webcomics, so e-mail us with your comments, “Ask Chase Anything” questions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com! And if you’ve got a Webcomic suggestion, be sure to include the URL!
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