Valiant Summit ‘17: The “Little Comic Company That Could” Boasts of Record and More

Valiant Summit ‘17: The “Little Comic Company That Could” Boasts of Record and More
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Hunter Gorinson, VP of Marketing and Communications

2017 has brought about the 3rd annual “Valiant Summit,” where Valiant Entertainment teases some of the titles they are most excited to release in the ongoing year. Valiant is one of those independent comic companies that prides themselves more about the quality of work and the amount of dedication that goes into every book, rather than the rise and fall of sales figures. Don’t go thinking that I’m claiming they don’t care about sales. Any company that wants to stick around for the long haul does, but they don’t let numbers dictate what they feel makes a great story.

IMG_20170417_102737This year, the Valiant Summit was hosted by the guys at Hyper RPG, in the bowels of Los Angeles, California. Delivering the goods were Valiant’s CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani and Editor in Chief Warren Simons. Also, playing as moderator was Valiant’s own Hunter Gorinson, VP of Marketing and Communications. The three opened the summit with the announcement that their X-O Manowar #1 comic had just hit more than 90,000 copies sold. “X-O Manowar just launched this last March 22nd, and since has become the best-selling single comic issue by an independent company!”

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At this announcement, Matt Kindt, New York Times best-selling writer and writer for X-O Manowar, joined the Valiant crew and talked of this new series. “Aric has just been one of those characters that I was excited to work with,” he said. “Getting him back in ‘Barbarian-mode’ was one of my favorite things… Then getting him into an alien planet that felt real, has its own histories and peoples that we hadn’t seen before…We built this new world from the ground up.” For Kindt, he has major plans in the works for the character of Aric. As the first issue came with the word “Soldier” underneath the main title, it was revealed that the writer intends the character to rise up the ranks of this alien world throughout the series, eventually gaining the title of “Emperor.” “It’s going to be really interesting to see his evolution of character.” Looking ahead, Kindt reveals that there will be a separate story in issue #10 of X-O Manowar entitled “Bounty Hunter,” following a collection of alien bounty hunters. The story will also provide extra character development for Aric of Dacia in his storyline progression to the role of Emperor. This issue will release in December of 2017.

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Continuing with the writing talents of Matt Kindt, another new comic named “Rapture #1” will bring together both the recognizable characters of Ninjak and Shadowman. “This is going to be The Lord of the Rings for the Valiant Universe,” said Kindt of his new Rapture series. Of what Dinesh, Warren, and Matt hinted at, part of this story will explore the question of if the rather possessed Shadowman will eventually be redeemed or if he’s beyond redemption. The ninja and “soul-man” will invade store shelves this May.

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In other Valiant news, the story of Britania will be continuing with a new series; Britania: We Who Are About to Die #1. Written by Peter Milligan and illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp, this story will follow both the familiar Antonius Axia (“the world’s first detective”) and a new female gladiator who must both fight in the arena and survive plots made against her by the empire. This story will keep with the crime and mystery solving of the previous series, all the while presenting a thrilling tale of its own. Britania: We Who Are About to Die #1 will be on sale April 26th, 2017.

The month of May will be set aside especially for that of “Free Comic Book Day,” on which a special X-O Manowar Free Comic Book Day 2017 Edition will be available. Mark calendars for May 6th.

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June will see the likes of Valiant favorite “Livewire” in her first standalone comic. Secret Weapons #1 will be written by the Oscar nominated screen writer Eric Heisserer. The series will follow the likes of various “rejects” who find themselves being hunted down in the light of their existences. Some of their powers include: making objects glow, talking to birds, and making one’s skin harden. As Warren put it, “Think ‘Island of Misfit Toys.’” Definitely not belonging to any “A-Team,” Livewire will round up these “non-sequentials” and build them into an effective fighting force as to save the day and their very lives. Making a return will be the classic Valiant villain “Rexo.” “There’s a new plan for him,” said Dinesh. “A new program for him to follow that explains why he is back.”

For collectors and avid fans, Secret Weapons #1-4 will be available in “Pre-order Edition Bundles.” They will boast 8-pages of behind the scenes content and 4-expanded, 40-page issues. As the name implies, they will only be available for those who pre-order. See your local comic-book dealer for more details.

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2016 was a big year for both the comic Faith and its writer, Jody Houser. Fans fell in love with the voluptuous Faith and her “can-do” attitude when it came to saving the day. “They told me to take a look at Harbinger and see what characters stood out [to me],” said Jody. “[Faith] was the one that stood out to me… It’s been so much fun putting her optimism to the test.” Following her further, the new comic Faith and the Future Force #1 will bring together other superhero characters from the Valiant universe. Not only will the comic retain the writings of Jody Houser, but will also see the artistry of many artists, such as: Steven Segovia and Barry Kitsen. Not too many other details were made known, but Dinesh commented, “I know we’re being coy for now… but this is a book we’ve put a lot of time in with.” Faith and the Future Force #1 will be out July 2017.

Speaking of coy, when the month of August came into question, the only thing that Dinesh in Warren had to say were, “August is Classified… You got to wait and see.” Whether this was a silly way to tease a large title or just a cheesy marketing ploy, we’ll just have to do what they say and “wait and see.”

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Keeping with the theme of returning characters, September’s Bloodshot Salvation #1 will feature that of “Bloodshot” and the introduction of his daughter, Jessie. Jeff Lemire will be lending his writing talents to this project, in which Warren was most enthusiastic about. “I’m excited that Jeff has already written a year into this 15-issue comic, all with various arcs.” Hunter also added that, “There is nothing in this that is an accident… [Jeff Lemire] drawn a treasure map.”

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Valiant is greatly utilizing the writing talents of Matt Kindt, as we see him again in October for another new series: Eternity #1. “It takes off right after Divinity 3,” says Matt. “But now, there’s a baby!… But really, Divinity has a kid, and then loses him. He tries to use his powers to try to locate him, but finds that he can’t.”

No, this series shouldn’t be regarded as a continuation as Hunter pointed out. “It’s not ‘Divinity 4.’ Eternity uses Divinity 3 as a jumping off point… What you should also know is that ‘Eternity’ is not a person, but a place.” This ‘place’ is subtly hinted at being a science based universe. “We’re definitely going more cosmic,” said Matt. “I’ve been doing so much research on pocket universes, only to find that it’s a real thing.” Pocket universe, you say?

The color palettes for this comic appear to be plush with neon, resembling something of Jack Kirby’s New Gods. This appears to be intentional, as Dinesh, Warren, and Matt all acknowledged the likeness to Jack Kirby’s work. In all, the three men had a great deal to say about this project. “This is the most ambitious thing in comics that anyone is talking about,” said Warren.

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Valiant and their fans apparently love the character of Ninjak, as he has flit in and out of some of their various comics since his modern day appearance in X-O Manowar (2012) #5. Is it because he’s “Bit of a dick” as Warren Simons points out? But what of the ninjas that have come before him? What of the program that recruited him as “Ninja-K”? In November, we will see Ninjak as he tries to seek out the person or persons responsible for the murder various people connected to the Ninja Project. Ninja-K #1 will feature writer Christos Cage with the story periodically visiting those of Ninjas A through J, all spanning from World War I onward. Warren and Dinesh boasted that this comic will run 40-pages long and be a tone unlike that of any other Ninjak comic. “If you’ve never read Ninjak before, this won’t affect how you’ll enjoy Ninja-K,” said Dinesh.

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Finally reaching the end of the year, Valiant will be giving us the return of the outrageous and lovable likes of “Quantum and Woody.” Quantum and Woody! #1 sees the once buddies now no longer on speaking terms, only meeting once per day for the required slamming of their metal wristbands, because you know…the whole going to dissolve thing. This comic about the two adoptive brothers will delve into what happened to cause their falling out. Let’s hope it ends with a reconciliation, because you know…the whole going to dissolve thing. Expect Quantum and Woody! #1 out this December. And yes, more goat is in store.

At the end of the summit, Hunter, Dinesh, and Warren had one last teaser to give. “I know some of you might be asking yourselves, ‘What about Shadowman? Aren’t we going to get another Shadowman comic?” said Warren. “Nope, nope. Absolutely note,” answered Dinesh. This is not the case however, as on the display screen a familiar face with the terrifying image of hands literally pulling away at their face was shown, above emblazoned in red numbers was the date “3/28/18.” “That has always been a special date for Valiant,” said Dinesh, “and we always make sure something special happens on it.” Hopefully more information will be released as we reach the end of the year.

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This year’s summit had a great deal of announcements, planned releases, and a lot of Matt Kindt. Thank you Hunter, Dinesh, Warren, the various writers and artists of Valiant, and those of Hyper RPG for hosting the Valiant Summit this year. If Valiant holds up to everything they’ve promised during the summit, it’s quite possible they will be hitting more milestones like they did with X-O Manowar #1. For information on Valiant, visit their website at www.ValiantEntertainment.com, and for Hyper RPG, visit www.HyperRabbitPowerGo.com.

 

 

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Valiant to Celebrate 25th Anniversary of “Eternal Warrior” with “Eternal Warrior: Awakening #1”

Valiant to Celebrate 25th Anniversary of “Eternal Warrior” with “Eternal Warrior: Awakening #1”

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From the creative writings of Robert Venditti, the one behind Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps., and the artistry of Renato Guedes of Wolverine and Bloodshot Reborn, Valiant Entertainment is excited for the release of their upcoming one-shot title Eternal Warrior: Awakening #1. A tribute to the original Eternal Warrior #1 comic first published in 1992, Eternal Warrior: Awakening #1 celebrates the character’s 25th anniversary.

Set in a time long before recorded civilization, the story follows an amnesiac warrior turned farmer named “Gilad Anni-Padda” as he tries to remember his past. He eventually discovers his heroic nature, and thus begins a new, bloody-conflict.

From what I’ve seen so far, the comic is lovingly done by Guedes. The artistry, intricate detailing, and befitting coloring all show a great level of care to this comic and its source material. Each page appears to be painstakingly put together and situated into panels when needed. The dialogue and lettering also does well to further demonstrate the dedication that has gone into it.

Eternal Warrior: Awakening #1 will go on sale May 10th of this year, retailing for $3.99. Don’t forget to add the date for this one-shot comic tribute to your calendar.

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REVIEW: With Only 5 Issues, Is it Already the End for Deadpool the Duck?

REVIEW: With Only 5 Issues, Is it Already the End for Deadpool the Duck?

DPTD1When comic creators decide on doing a crossover, it’s pretty much guaranteed that shenanigans will ensue. When Marvel deemed that Deadpool and Howard the Duck should “join forces,” they might have taken that a little too literally.

Writer Stewart Moore and artist Jacopo Camagni have done a wonderful job in steering us down this Alice in Wonderlandish rabbit hole called a comic, where in which they filled the hole with anthropomorphic characters, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and nanobot filled barf. The idea of both Deadpool and Howard the Duck inhabiting the same body seems like a pure strike of comedic-genius, but Moore and Camagni took the zaniness a step further with the inclusion of characters like Doctor Bong (who’s been chasing the likes of Howard since 1977) and the familiar ball of “furry-fury” that is Rocket Raccoon.

The writing was a well-done marriage with the two worlds of Howard the Duck and Deadpool; The anti-hero talking waterfowl who is constantly drowning in all the crap the universe throws at him, and the anti-hero/mercenary for hire who takes all the crap that gets thrown at him and shoves it down said universe’s throat. The banter between the two characters alone, who find themselves inhabiting the same body, would have undoubtedly gotten tired and stale if it weren’t for the supporting characters that breathed fresh conflict and confusion into the over-the-top story. The fourth-wall breaks that are utterly Deadpool are all present, as well as perpetual disappointments that are purely Howard. As a fan of both characters (I was THAT kid who loved the 1986 flop that was the Howard the Duck movie FYI), I felt that every box was ticked.

Camagni’s artistry really pulls through, doing justice to nearly every Marvel character. I say “nearly” because I thought that Rocket Raccoon looked a little too “bottom-heavy” for my taste. His take on Doctor Bong is quite good as well, lending to the fact that Camagni is very use to drawing the male form. Bong should be truly flattered, as it appears that the artist gave him a little extra “padding” down there (he REALLY seems to like making men bottom-heavy). Even the coloring of Israel Silva was a proper balance of gritty mutes and shades of red. It could have been easy to mistakenly gone with the terrible color palettes that have plagued certain Howard the Duck issues in the past, but thankfully the colorist avoided that.

True, the ending was a bit anti-climatic, but I think that it’s ultimately befitting as nothing goes completely as the two anti-heroes would like. Violent, gross, and overtop are all words that describe the five-issue mini-series that is Deadpool the Duck, which means it’s creators truly nailed it. The biggest issue with this series is that it’s already over. Do I smell sequel, perhaps? Or is that just that nanobot-filled-barf again?

Coming out March 15th, find Marvel’s Deadpool the Duck at your local comic shop. Holding out for the collection? Issues 1-5 is slated to release on June 13th 2017.

PREVIEW: Body Parts Get Severed and Link Whines in “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” Manga

PREVIEW: Body Parts Get Severed and Link Whines in “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” Manga

liens-releases044The Legend of Zelda franchise has spread its lore far and wide since it’s 1986 Japanese release. Aside from being mistakenly called “Zelda” since the game’s 1987 American release, the protagonist Link is known by fans as “The Hero of Time, The Hero of Light, and of course “The Hero of Legend.” After thirty-one years, we have seen a slew of video games, cartoon adaptions, cartoon cameos, manga adaptions, and not to mention a ton of merchandise that has steadily helped to fill Nintendo’s coffers. It’s of no surprise that another product featuring our “forever-reincarnated” Link and Princess Zelda is releasing soon. No, I’m not talking about the upcoming Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild video game.

Following up his 2012 Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time manga series, Akira Himekawa has released the much asked for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess manga. Those who played the game, the Gamecube version versus the Wii version, will agree it was a great addition to the mysterious Zelda timeline. The manga was first released in February of 2016 in Japan and is finally getting released in America this month by VIZ Media.

liens-releases046Himekawa’s artwork is done quite well, with all the emotion and detail that a good manga calls for. A reader can get a sense of movement with every panel. There’s a great deal of humor that gives a healthy contrast with the rest of the story. As to be expected, story details from the video game differ with Himekawa’s manga adaption. For those that recall, the game was visually darker than most of the other titles, as our main character finds himself trapped in the “Twilight Kingdom.” Shadows and mute colors were largely used in the art style. As a whole, the manga has a darker tone than that of the video game, featuring the likes of townspeople being wounded and killed, the daughter of the mayor being shot by an arrow with visual bleeding, and even the likes of Link having an appendage chopped off of him. Despite the humor that I mentioned, this story is strictly rated “T for Teen”.

Another departure from that of the video games is that Himekawa’s Link talks. Ever since his 1986 debut, the silent protagonist has been just that; Silent! Whether this is because Nintendo knows that this is part of the character’s charm or that they believe it would be as traumatic as when the hard-rock band KISS took off their makeup in 1983, the consensus in the video games has been that “Link doesn’t talk!”

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Sexy Midna?!

Despite this “Nintendo rule of thumb”, that hasn’t stopped the likes of those that have adapted the character for other medias. It’s difficult to have a story with a non-talking main character after all. Some bad examples of talking Links have been the thirteen-episode 1989 cartoon and the disastrously terrible Panasonic “CD-i” video games.

liens-releases047Sadly, Himekawa’s link wasn’t a successful adaption for me. Though visually appealing and utterly heroic in his deeds, Twilight Princess’ Link often comes across as whiney and more adolescent than his visuals make him out to be. It’s quite possible that Himekawa has given Link a case of PTSD, which is evident from a flashback featured in the story. Though I appreciate the effort that Himekawa is making with adding another dimension with the character, there are some things that shouldn’t be messed with.

It’s quite possible though that it isn’t Himekawa that is to blame for Link’s dialogue, but perhaps that of the English adaption team. There’s a scene where the townsfolk first encounter an oncoming hoard of monsters and one person simply responds with “YIKES!” When has anyone ever given a terror-charged exclamation of “yikes”? The English adaption is accredited to “Stan!” for goodness sake. No, I didn’t add the exclamation point. It’s there printed in the back of the book, with no last name to account for. Is “Stan!” someone like “Madonna” or “Cher”?

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Overall, I thought the story was entertaining and a nice read. Though the dialogue was nothing to write home about, the beautiful scenery and the wonderfully drawn action was what kept me going. In the end, isn’t that why we read adventure stories? If you want true Zelda storyline with no shenanigans, best to stick to the video games.

Akira Himekawa and VIZ Media’s The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess will release March 14th online and book retailers nationwide.