Valiant Comics (the Gem Award winner for Publisher of the Year (under 4%)) has been steadily building a rich, complex universe. Each month they have delivered some of the best comics being produced today. While each book has been allowed to tell its own story, they have all been part of a shared world, with strong connections threaded between them. And now those threads will be pulled together to tell a bigger tale.
While the number of titles may not seem like a lot, the 5 titles have helped reunite a whole universe of characters, many of which had their own series back in the 1990′s during the first Valiant era. Will 2013 see a second wave of comics? We’ll have to wait and see, but Valiant looks to continue their success in 2013.
The Harbinger Wars
This April sees the beginning of the first crossover event, The Harbinger Wars. This event will have its own four part series, and will cross over between Harbinger (natch) #11-14 and Bloodshot #10-13. The Harbinger Wars saga will be great jumping-on points for both Harbinger and Bloodshot.
But what are the Harbinger Wars? Project Rising Spirit, the secret government organization behind the creation of Bloodshot, and Toyo Harada and his Harbinger Foundation are fighting for control of the growing number of psiots, the Harbingers. Peter Stanchek and his band of renegades won’t be on the sidelines, as Stanchek has scores to settle with both Harada and PRS.
The original H.A.R.D. (Harbinger Active Resistance Division) Corps were a private strike force that was established to prevent Harada from gaining control of all the world’s Harbingers. This force was made up of cybernetically-enhanced mercenaries with implants in their heads allowing them to mimic the abilities of psiots. Oh yeah, the implants self destruct if they are captured, killing them in the process.
The Harbinger Wars promises to shape the Valiant Universe for years to come. But how? Who will win the Harbinger War? Who will survive? Check it out this Spring.
Paging Doctor Mirage
The H.A.R.D. Corps aren’t the only classic Valiant characters to be returning. Joining the ranks of Ninjak, and Gilad Anni-Padda, the Eternal Warrior, is Dr. Mirage.
Who is the good Doctor you ask? In the original Valiant Universe, Dr. Mirage (his actual name) was a parapsychologist, who, along with his wife, ran afoul of Master Darque. Darque attacks Mirage, absorbing his necromatic energy. However, instead of dying, Mirage’s soul was anchored to this world through the love of his wife. He survives the attack, and discovers he now has the ability to control the Darque energy. Their adventures were chronicled in The Second Life of Dr. Mirage, an ongoing series from Valiant. Besides their battles with Darque and other supernatural forces, the series also focused on the the domestic life of the Miracles, and the strain that is put upon a marriage when one of the spouses becomes a being of pure necromatic energy, making them immaterial and unable to even touch one another.
That is not this Dr. Mirage. Say hello to Dr. Shan Fong, a.k.a. Dr. Mirage. She makes her debut this Wednesday (March 7) in Shadowman #5. Dr. Fong is the “preeminent psychic investigator” of the Valiant universe. But that is where the similarities end. Ms. Fong’s powers are rooted in Asian mysticism, and while her “low key” appearance in this month’s Shadowman is “about readers getting to know her,” said Shadowman designer, artist, and co-writer Patrick Zircher, “hopefully they like what they see and there’ll be plenty of adventures to come.”
Dr. Mirage steps into the world of Jack Boniface and the Shadowman after discovering that no matter where she goes, the dead only have one thing to say: “Master Darque is coming.”
Valiant in 2013, and beyond
“Since the Summer of Valiant, we’ve been slowly building towards several key events. You can see the first of these events this April in Harbinger Wars, where Bloodshot and Harbinger collide,” Valiant CEO and Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani told the AP. “The return of Dr. Mirage is part of that plan — part of setting the stage. Dr. Mirage is a key piece in the future of the Valiant Universe and the timing of the return, as well as the manner, is no accident.”
Will 2013 see more titles from Valiant? With characters like Ninjak and The Eternal Warrior already well established in the Valiant Universe, along with these new arrivals (and the recent introduction of the Earth’s latest Geomancer, Kay McHenry, and don’t forget Rai, who was teased in last year’s Free Comic Book Day offering) are there even bigger plans on the horizon? Who knows? Maybe even something to unite all of the Valiant characters? When asked at Emerald City Comic Con if there are plans for any more ongoing series in the works at Valiant, publisher Fred Pierce had this to say: “Part of what happens with the next story we do is that we know eventually we’ll do more of the classic Valiant titles,” he said, admitting that Ninjak and Eternal Warrior would return, as well as Rai. For now, however, new series will only come together when they get a pitch from creators who know how to make those characters work. “What’s going to be the next best story?”
For now that seems to be focusing on the books they have already introduced and telling great stories. Besides the Harbinger Wars, this Spring sees the release of Archer & Armstrong #0 in May. Fred Van Lente wrote the script months ago but he and Valiant held it back until they reached an organic point in the story to tell it. It’s Armstrong’s take on the Epic of Gilgamesh and it features the first full appearance of all three immortal brothers (Aram, Gilad and the briefly seen Ivar) together. It will be an homage to Barry Windsor Smith’s “Three Musketeers” story from the original series and Eternal Warrior title. The zero issue will tell an origin story but also leads in to what happens in #10 and beyond.
Over in Shadowman, Lee Garbett and Roberto De Le Torre will be joining co-writer/artist Patrick Zircher and they showed a new big villain in the story, but it was only a tease as they would not explain who he is or how he would be challenging Shadowman. But the audience on hand were promised he was going to be a huge player not just in Shadowman but in the Valiant Universe as a whole. Co-writer Justin Jordan is focusing his efforts on the series’ #0 issue which is the never been told origin of Master Darque.
If you missed out on the summer of Valiant,(WHY? I told you it was going to rock) it’s not too late to get caught up. This May will see reprints of all of Valiant number one issues so far, for only one dollar each! Also available are collected editions of each series, for just $9.99 each (Shadowman vol 1, Birth Rites will be available on April 24, all the others are available now). So now you have no excuse not to get caught up. Now go get Valiant.