A report from the Big Apple Comicon indicates that deluxe hardcover collections of both X – O Manowar and Harbinger: A New Beginning are coming your way.
After a quick break for trivia, Valiant Entertainment’s Vice President of Marketing, Chip Carter, arrived for a special announcement. He revealed Valiant’s next project would be the previously mentioned “X-O Manowar” hardcover collection, with a new story by Bob Layton. Taking questions from the audience, he also indicated that Sean Chen would do the cover and Layton would be inking the new story. Carter handed out business cards advertising the new book, subtitled “Birth,” as attendees exited the conference room.
As many comic book fans will remember, Valiant Comics was formed in 1988 by former President Jim Shooter after his bid to buy out Marvel Comics was topped by the insidious Ron Pereleman (not the Hellboy guy).
Determined to continue his work in comics, Shooter formed Valiant by convincing a VC firm that he had what it took to make great comics. Given his incredible track record with Marvel, this probably does not seem too difficult… but it must have been like trying to convince your folks to give you $50 to spend at a comic convention because it was ‘a good investment.’
Along with popular Iron Man artist Bob Layton (second to John Romita Jr. in my book on old shell head), Shooter published comics based on retired Gold Key characters Turok, Magnus Robot Fighter and Doctor Solar, modernizing the heroes into a sophisticated contemporary setting. In time, original characters like Shadowman, Rai and X-O Manowar were introduced and invited to mingle with the classic heroes in the crossover series ‘Unity.’
It’s hard to imagine such a thing today, but Valiant became so successful that in 1993 they were the #3 comic book company on the market behind Marvel and DC Comics. Due to complex internal politics, Shooter was unfortunately dismissed, elevating Layton to the position of Editor in Chief, but the successful run of the company continued for some time. The company was purchased by video game giant Acclaim in 1994. While this meant a major push for the comic characters into video games (including the incredible Turok Dinosaur Hunter game for the N64), it only resulted in prolonging the slow death of the company as the comics industry was struck a major blow in 1996.
After the Deaths of Superman, Batman, and other such gimmicks brought many non-readers to comics eager to buy comics that would soar in value, the unexpected happened… they stopped soaring. The ‘spectator implosion’ occurred, causing many of these eager investors to leave comics and look for better ways to waste their time. After several attempts to reclaim their #3 position including a new Unity miniseries, Acclaim closed the doors on the comic imprint in 2004.
In 2005, Accalim auctioned off the characters only to see them bought by Valiant Entertainment, Inc. who are now publishing the aforementioned hardcover volumes which include a specially produced new story in addition to collecting the hit monthly comics.
While it’s unlikely that Valiant will ever be the major player that it once was, it’s heartening to know that the announcement at the Big Apple Con was so heartily received. At a time when Marvel Comics and DC Comics were both losing steam, Valiant was doing ‘the real work’ and produced some of the best comics seen in that era.
For more info on Ron Perelman, click here.
Harbinger: The Beginning