Hey, all. It’s D.C. here just to throwdown on a discussion. My apologies for no reviews this week, but out-of-town training can keep you from reading as much as you’d want.
With X-O Manowar at an end last week, Valiant Entertainment has lost its flagship title, the book that helped restarted the Valiant Universe.
The question now is: Which new title will pick up the torch? Can a new title stand on the same level as that of X-O Manowar?
It’s my opinion that have a flagship title is great for any publisher. It’s something that helps drive or focus the overall universe or theme of the publisher in some form, if they are trying to create a cohesive universe. For Marvel, it was (supposed to be) Invincible Iron Man–though with the Marvel Now! initiative, that’s now up in the air. I fear Marvel’s seeming lack of focus will be detrimental. DC’s flagship could arguably be Justice League (certainly not Batman–his tone is too divergent for the overall DCU). IDW has Transformers.
With Valiant, the next title in this new phase of the universe seems very much up in the air, even with continuing titles Ninjak and Wrath of the Eternal Warrior. Let’s take a look at our potentials:
1. Faith: Faith might be the quintessential optimistic heroine, bringing hope and innocence to the gray, harsh world of Valiant, she doesn’t quite strike me as a flagship title. I’ve yet to read the first 3 issues I have of this series, but from what Kay told me (she hasn’t warmed up much to the series), this book isn’t expansive enough to help build the world of Valiant in the same manner as X-O Manowar.
2. Harbinger Renegades: This is the closest book I can see that will herald the next phase of the Valiant Universe. The first Harbinger series was great, and now that the spin-off series Imperium ended on a somber note, we need to see how the world still handles the threat of Toyo Harada. Peter Stanchek’s return is sorely needed. And for the Renegades to find themselves, their growth may tie in to the overall growth of Valiant and the rise of new heroes, villains, and organizations. Interestingly enough, the black woman in the background has yet to be revealed, but I can only think it’s Unity’s Livewire. How will she tie in to the group and its overall destiny?
3. Britannia: No way. This miniseries is set so far in the past. But it’s with great hope that the world’s first detective will shed more light in Valiant’s past. Perhaps we’ll see something related to the Vine or the Anni-Padda brothers…or perhaps a later event?
4. Savage: Another 4-part miniseries that we can cut off the headliner list. Savage has been hailed as the Turok series that Valiant has been missing. With crazy and striking art, this mini’s already been stated that the series will integrate into the overall Valiant universe. How that will happen is anyone’s guess. This is probably the book I most look forward to.
5. Generation Zero: I’ve read the first issue of this series, but I have so little to say about the wayward psiot children that debuted in Bloodshot. I’m not sure where this series is supposed to go, or how much of the Valiant universe it’s supposed to unveil, but there were some very interesting twists just in the inaugural issue. If the other children of Generation Zero show up, and if this series keeps up the momentum, I can see some very unsettling facets of the Valiant Universe being revealed to us.
6. Bloodshot Reborn: Nah…Bloodshot’s world is far too psychotic and gritty to make the tone of Valiant. Bloodshot Reborn has been a great follow-up to the psiot killer’s first series and The Valiant (and I’d say a little better–pick up the first 3 volumes if you hadn’t), but this chaotic anti-hero strives too hard to be away from the general world. However, with the upcoming event Bloodshot U.S.A., Bloodshot’s place in the Valiant Universe is growing–but is that a good thing? Wait till we see the chaos that will come.
7. Rai: Holy damn, what a good ending to Rai with the event, 4001 A.D. But since this series won’t come back until January, we can rule out this one as a flagship. However, when it returns, it should continue to flagship the future of Valiant now that new heroes (a Loa related to Shadowman, the nonhuman Bloodshot, the War Mother, the geomancer and the Eternal Warrior) have risen to join Rai and the fallen New Japan. If you haven’t read this series or it’s conclusion, 4001 A.D., I strongly suggest you pick up all the books.
8. Divinity III: Stalinverse: This has been one of the more intriguing lines coming out soon. I haven’t read Divinity II yet, but the first book was very captivating. But this one details a warped world that only Ninjak knows to be wrong. As for the titular character…where is he, will he aid or antagonize Ninjak, and how will these events drive the rest of the Valiant Universe when all is said and done?
So, for now….the idea of a Valiant flagship title is uncertain, as is the overall direction of the future going in. Still, these titles all appear exciting in some way. I can only hope that Valiant continues to push the envelope and develop other corners of its still-nascent world.
And I hope you’re looking forward to it, too.
Hey, hey. This is D.C. back for throwdown #2 tonight on a book I completed a couple of weeks ago, and wanted to share:
Valiant’s Harbinger Wars is a crossover event between Bloodshot and Harbinger. In this event, rogue experiment Bloodshot leads a group of formerly-captive psiot children to their friends, who are holding a Las Vegas hotel hostage in true terrorist fashion. At the same time, omega-level psiot Toyo Harada rallies his Harbinger Foundation to take the psiot children for himself. To complicate matters further, Peter Stanchek leads his Renegades to the same location to prevent Harada from obtaining the children. All three groups converge with explosive results.
For those of you who have not read before this event, I highly recommend picking up Bloodshot and Harbinger. Both were exciting reads that lead up to this point.
Harbinger Wars kept me on the edge of my seat. The dramatic irony was strong and did not help to quell my excitement and anticipation. I knew the three factions were going to meet with the terrorists in Vegas, but when a fourth group gets introduced later, I could only think, “Holy s***! How crazier can this get?!” The creative teams did a great job shedding light on all five groups without making the story feel muddied. Some segments featured the different factions quickly, but it was all extremely effective.
A lot of the time I felt angry when it became clear that both Bloodshot and the Renegades were being manipulated, and not by Toyo Harada. The children are understandably hardened, but I only hoped the ones pulling the strings would get theirs in the end.
Even before that, I was both shocked and pleased at the brief battle between Bloodshot and Harada. With Harada’s vast psionic abilities, I never expected Bloodshot to hold his own, even if it wasn’t of his own accord. I love Harada as a villain, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching that cocky bastard get his butt handed to him. You really see how resourceful Bloodshot is, and even Harada is caught off guard.
Bloodshot’s battle with Peter Stanchek was also a treat. It was more primal and wild, which is no problem, knowing Peter. The best part was that this misunderstanding between the two did not get resolved. They simply battled until one gave out. It was great to see the Renegades go to war, and then realize that they are clearly in over their heads.
Casualties abound in Harbinger Wars, and they are both unpleasant and brutal. That, however, is the nature of war, and the entire creative team makes that known. The fates of everyone left me hungry for more, hopeful, elated, and despondent.
The art varies, but that is understandable in crossover. The addition of Rai’s Clayton Crain added on a special edge that I get only from his art.
By the end of Harbinger Wars, I was left confused as to the fate of Bloodshot. What happened to him? Did he survive? How did he survive? His own tie-ins left his fate unrevealed, which did not go well when the Renegades and Harbinger Foundation had some resolution. If anything, Bloodshot’s companion had a resolution of her own.
Harbinger Wars is an exciting crossover event that does well to self-contain within the respect books, while having consequences for the Valiant Universe as a whole. The extensive cast gets highlighted well with good art from all artists. The story is well-paced, dynamic, and a little difficult to take at times. More than anything, the ending of Harbinger Wars left me with a sour feeling. You root for a winner, but the ending proved that even heroes can lose.
And I mean that in a good way.
“And what if God could be taught to be a better person?”
Wow, two blogs today, by both of us? Crazy.
D.C. here. Kay gave her review today on DC’s The Death of Superman, and I’m here to give you some insight into Valiant’s Harbinger:
Harbinger is the brainchild of writer Joshua Dysart; it is a series that details natural-born psiot Peter Stanchek’s crusade against power psiot leader Toyo Harada and his Harbinger Foundation. It is very much a David-and-Goliath tale with a very modern touch.
Valiant is uncharted territory for me, so I went into Harbinger with a relatively open mind. This blog covers the first two volumes, Omega Rising and Renegades.
Character development. Joshua Dysart had this in spades, especially in Volume 2. In each issue of Renegades, we get a deeper look at each member of Stanchek’s motley crew. Each character is written well with emphasis on their particular skills showing in their mannerisms and thoughts.
Peter Stanchek is a great character. He’s incredibly imperfect. He’s pathetic and self-loathing. He does foolish and terrible things that he envisions as being “out of love.” Peter is a teen that you just want to slap in the face…if he didn’t have his abilities. Peter is what many people are, and that makes him very believable, even with powers.
While Peter is special, he is nothing resembling the archetypal leader of a crusade against a monolithic man and his army. And he doesn’t have to be. Peter’s rage, ruthlessness, and raw power make him a force even Toyo Harada couldn’t ignore.
Faith Herbert is the dork you can’t help but love. What isn’t there to love? She seems remarkably comfortable with herself, in spite of her being fat and alone. Her obsession with all things related to geek culture is a treat for any comic fan. Faith is self-aware She is quickly shown as the shining light of optimism in this series. She is easily the most well-adjusted of the renegades. For all her optimism, her past and fears make her so down to earth. One can’t help but find Faith endearing.
Kris Hathaway, the only human member of Peter’s ragtag renegade group, shows how adept and necessary she is to the group, and to the world of Valiant. She truly is, as she stated, the butterfly in a storm. Regardless, her intelligence and gusto help her to contend with the best and worst in this world. Her role in this series is prophetic a simple, introspective question:
“What if God could be taught to be a better person?”
There are so many characters that shine in this, even the antagonists. Toyo Harada truly shows he is a complex and charismatic man. Harada is a champion, yet he is also a monster. He is humble, yet he is ignoble. Toyo Harada is so calculated, yet incredibly flawed and hypocritical in his goals of what can at best be seen as outright manipulation, and at worst, genocide.
Even though he is irredemable, Harada is an understandable and believable antagonist. He is the makings of a cult leader, and how he behaves and how his followers behave make this series even more disturbing and enticing. Harada’s follower Livewire laid out Harada’s and Peter’s roles perfectly: There needs to be a balance. And this series has it so far:
The cover art was phenomenal to me. So raw, with a perfect synergy with colors and pencils. The interior art, however, was MOSTLY great for the same reasons. You can tell when pencilers changed in some issues. Rotations in creative teams have always been a point of irritation for me before an arc or run is completed, but the cast of artists did not deviate terribly far throughout the first two volumes of Harbinger. As a whole, the art appeared effortless and effective.
Harbinger is a phenomenal read. There is nothing like having a protagonist, a morally gray and imperfect character, rise to what one can hope to be a hero. It is likewise frightening to see a cult army of this magnitude in the Harbinger Foundation. Joshua Dysart’s take on the protagonists and antagonists was very well done, especially when it came to tying each character’s psychologies to their own powers and skills.
I bought the remaining series in the mail, so I’m definitely looking forward to sharing where Dysart took this series.