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Ken’s Comic Ramblings #3: Valiant Is Doing Great, It Can Do Better Part One

Art by Kano
Art by Kano

 

WARNING: Spoilers from several Valiant books, specifically the recently concluded mini-series, The Valiant.

 

Those of you who have followed my writings around here (by “here” I mean doing a monthly annotation of one of their books) or on twitter know that I have been giving heaps of praise to the resurgent comic publisher, Valiant Entertainment. Like Marvel and DC, Valiant is in the business of a cohesive superbeing universe (“being” would be a more appropriate term instead of “hero”) and since they came back on the scene in 2012, they have been expanding and creating some of the highest quality content that I have seen lately. Special mentions go to Joshua Dysart’s brilliant run on Harbinger, Fred Van Lente’s amazingly hilarious and heartfelt Archer & Armstrong and the cosmic-charged X-O Manowar guided by Robert Venditti that relaunched the line. With the recent announcement that Valiant is getting into the movie business (two Harbinger movies, two Bloodshot movies, all leading up to a Harbinger Wars movie), I thought it would be high time that I talked about the great things the company is done in more detail.

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I’d also like to discuss where they, like other places in this industry, have faulted and where they can do better. Now, put away your pitch forks. Like I said, for all of what I am going to talk about, Valiant is one of the cooler companies that I’ve seen. But everyone and everything need to come to grips with their faults before we can improve.

 

The biggest fault Valiant has right now is one that the rest of the industry has: it’s lack of female and/or non-white led books. Valiant has a schedule of releasing only nine books a month (not including collections, second printings, e.t.c.) and I actually think this limit they put on their books helps massively in creating a cohesive and interesting world. However, with a comic line so small, the lack of non-white male characters becomes much more noticeable.

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This isn’t to say Valiant doesn’t have interesting non-white male characters. Quite the contrary! I have gushed before about my love for member of the Renegades, Faith Herbet a.k.a. Zephyr and how I wish every comic fan could meet her. We also have Livewire, a member of Unity (Essentially Valiant’s Avengers), Doctor Mirage on the spooky side of the Valiant universe, Colonel Capshaw of G.A.T.E. and the recently debuted Roku in Ninjak.

 

However, of those I’ve mentioned, only Doctor Mirage has had her own series, and that was a mini-series (with a second one being made, but release date unannounced). Some people would probably cry to me that “Unity is Livewire’s book!” Sorry, but no. While Livewire is fantastic in that book and had a really good focus issue lately, it’s still a team book. Same with Faith in Harbigner.

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Then you have the Geomancer. There was a recently concluded mini-series called The Valiant which had Kay McHenry, the Geomancer, incredibly prominent. It did give the character even more fleshing out then when she originally appeared in Archer & Armstrong. However, hindsight really did strike this book down for me. With the recent release of Bloodshot Reborn #1, The Valiant really does come off as a mini-series to get Bloodshot into the state he is in at the start of his relaunched series.

 

This includes killing Kay off. A character that was loaded with potential for future stories and even a series where she was the central character. As much development that I feel she did get in The Valiant, I did feel it does get undermined somewhat when she dies to put Bloodshot in his (new) state of angst.

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I know someone is going to jump and say “But a new Geomancer was introduced at the end of The Valiant!” That is true, and she has been seen in a teaser picture for a new series starting in November… an Eternal Warrior series…

 

I am going to stop talking about having more books that lead with female characters or seeing non-white characters being leads (should say though, Divinity has been great, in a weird mind bendy-type way and Quantum & Woody is hilarious). As a white guy myself, don’t want to presume to speak for others. One thing I will say is that, considering the three Anni-Padda brothers were born/raised in what is present-day Iraq, it’s weird that they look like three white guys. However, there is one segment of underrepresented people I’m part of that I would love to see more of in the Valiant Universe.

 

With that said: I would love to see Peter Stanchek come out as gay.

 

Harbinger was an absolutely phenomenal series and arguably has had the best character work out of all of Valiant’s titles. There’s a reason I keep calling Harbinger “the best X-Men book in the industry” because it takes the concept of people born with powers and elevates it. What could be considered the “main” character of the book, Peter Stanchek, was one of those interesting characters. In the beginning, I wanted to punch the little bastard for something really bad he does. By issue #25… I still wanted to punch him, but I would at least feel bad for it.

 

This proposal does have some history to it. In the first incarnation of the Valiant Universe, Jim Shooter intended for Peter to be gay but the book ended before it could be revealed, despite leaving several hints of it throughout the original Valiant universe. That was back in the nineties. Here in 2015, I definitely feel that Valiant should revisit the subject. It certainly would add a new and interesting aspect to Peter as a character, considering his somewhat turbulent relationship with Kris Hathaway (speaking of, there was some implications at the end of Dysart’s Harbinger run that Kris was attracted to fellow female ally, Flamingo).

 

Also, and this is me personally, I don’t particularly like when a writer makes a person of underrepresented gender, race, sexuality this absolute perfect human being, morally or personality. I like faults. I like flaws. If there were two words that could describe Peter Stanchek, it’ “faulted” and “flawed”. Making characters as three dimensional and complex as possible is always a crucial aspect. This would add another wrinkle (a positive wrinkle!) to the character.

 

At the end of this part, I think the majority of what Valiant Comics has done has been great and what they have on the horizon looks just as fantastic. I do however want them to expand on their audience instead of keeping it so insular. Yes, this does also apply to the rest of the industry, but I see the massive potential Valiant has and want them to do well.

 

We’re not done with the look at Valiant. Tune in next week where I discuss something recently announced from Valiant that leaves me quite…nervous…

 

Any view, opinions or positions expressed within this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent those of G33K-HQ. The validity, accuracy, or completeness of any statements made within this article are those of the author.

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About Kenneth

When he is not working at a library or on his Master's Degree, Ken Godberson III is usually writing comics, prose and screenplays. He tends to be an expert on absolutely nothing except on why Impulse is the greatest superhero ever. He can be found on Twitter @kengodbersoniii or on Tumblr at kengodbersoniii.tumblr.com

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