Sunday, February 11, 2018

Comics Lust 2/11/2018

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/stress denier Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). The weeks continue to be nutty, but mostly in a good way. That said, my puppy executive team and I could sure use some downtime. We definitely need to do some reading,  TV watching, and maybe spend some hours putting together a puzzle; heaven forbid we take a moment to breathe and smell the hypoallergenic flowers. We are committed to embracing our inner chill. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health, drink plenty of water (no beer, I’m four weeks into a six-week Real Food Challenge), cherish the ones you love, and read some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

A Valiant Effort (Part 1)

So many comics, so little time. But as lovers of the medium, we not only have a reverence for the old—that which we have read, reread, and hold to the highest esteem—we also tend to stick with the things we love. We want to check in with what Batman is up to, or what’s currently going on with all things cosmic in the Marvel Universe. But we also have a need to experience something new, something different and thrilling. There’s definitely more out there than just the Big Two, which I have found with the “indie” publishers like Image—who receives most of my money month in and month out—and, to a lesser extent, Dark Horse. Still, there are many other worlds to explore.

Now, I bought a couple issues from the newly spawned Valiant back in the ‘90s, but that was at a time when I was growing weary of gimmick covers, variant covers, and a marketing-over-content and the “EXTREMEizing” of the comic book publishing world. Frustrated, I abandoned comics altogether for about five years. After the speculative bubble burst, consuming many publishers in its wake including Valiant, I returned to an industry desperate to stay alive and one with a renewed interest in telling great stories. In 2012, Valiant rose from the ashes bringing back most of their properties beginning with X-O ManowarMagnus Robot Fighter and Solar Man of the Atom, both originally Gold Key properties, were scooped up by Dark Horse, end ended up with Dynamite. After a few years of hearing some great buzz around many of the titles in Valiant Entertainment’s resurrection, and along with a need to try something new, I dipped my toe into the Valiant pool.

Archer & Armstrong (First Published May 2013)
Going in order of my reading beginning in August 2015, Archer & Armstrong was my first real foray into the Valiant Universe. A digital sale prompted me to drop some coin on Archer & Armstrong #1–25 and the special Archer & Armstrong: The 1% #1, which I quickly blew through after loving the first issue. Basically, Armstrong is an immortal poet and lover of life (ie, a drunk) who has been targeted by a cult (the Sect) for assassination by an impressionable young man, Archer, who is the near opposite of Armstrong in every possible way. Archer soon learns his life and upbringing were a lie, and the two become quick friends committed to stopping the Sect once and for all. The book is essentially a humorous “buddy cop” story with heart that immediately makes you fall in love with the title characters and cheer them along on their many adventures. Other characters from the Valiant Universe come in and out of the series (including Geomancer, Bloodshot, and Armstrong’s brother, Gilad, the Eternal Warrior) and although it was slightly confusing not knowing too much about the series guest stars, I just went with the flow and everything worked out just fine. Archer & Armstrong is mostly written by Fred Van Lente and features a host of artists, but as much as I loved this series, the act of jumping into the rest of Valiant’s offerings seemed a bit daunting…until a particular writer prompted me to give it a shot two years later.

The Valiant (First Published December 2014)
In late 2017, Valiant had another digital sale that caught my eye, but it was the fact that my current favorite creator, Jeff Lemire (Descender, and Royal City) had actively been working with the company which was all the excuse I needed to dive back into this publisher. Co-written with Matt Kindt and illustrated by Paolo Rivera, and featuring the character of Bloodshot on the cover—who I remembered from back in the ‘90s—I decided this was the book to start with. Now, The Valiant is pretty much an event miniseries that at various points brings in most of the Valiant characters, and it is safe to say I knew practically none of them. That’s fine. The writers do a decent job of mostly letting you know who is who as they thrust you right into the action. The story opens with The Eternal Warrior, Gilad (the guy who appeared in many issues of Archer & Armstrong as he fights The Immortal Enemy across 10,000 years). Gilad has failed to stop the ever-evolving creature only three times, but each time resulted in the death of the Earth’s Geomancer. Now, The Immortal Enemy has returned and even though Gilad has the aid of Bloodshot and many other heroes, it might not be enough to stop the monster. This series is definitely accessible to new readers and it successfully roped me in within the first few pages. I dug the main characters, was interested in knowing more about the others, and with the brutal ending knew I had to jump directly into…

Bloodshot: Reborn V.1–4 (First Published May 2015)
Bloodshot: USA V.1 (First Published October 2016)
Picking up where The Valiant left off, Bloodshot: Reborn finds Bloodshot a shell of the unstoppable killing machine he used to be. He has a dead-end job, he’s taking drugs, he’s boozing it up. He’s also starting to see things. He’s without purpose until the day he sees news footage of a ghost-white man with a blood-red circle on his chest mercilessly slaughtering innocent bystanders. Jeff Lemire is the sole writer on this exciting and thrilling series that shows exactly why Bloodshot is one of Valiant’s main heavy hitters. The character is reminiscent of the Punisher only with nanites flowing through his blood that heal him from most any wound no matter how grievous. You have the shadowy organization that created him, lost love, new love, camaraderie, betrayal, post-apocalyptic awesomeness, and further glimpses into other characters within the Valiant Universe. To put it mildly, Bloodshot: Reborn is fantastic as is the follow-up, Bloodshot: USA, and I fully intend to dive into the currently ongoing Bloodshot: Salvation. If you’re new to Valiant, then getting your bearings with The Valiant and diving in with the amazing Bloodshot: Reborn run is definitely enough to get you hooked.
*Note: In the ’90s, Bloodshot ran for 52 issues (#0–51), then, after Acclaim Entertainment bought Valiant, Bloodshot returned for 16 issues before the company filed for bankruptcy. In 2012, after Valiant had returned to the world of comics, Bloodshot saw new life with a 26-issue series (#0–25) before appearing in The Valiant, where I decided to begin.

Secret Weapons (First Published June 2017)
Secret Weapons is the most recent comic from Valiant and is one that has had much buzz. Written by Eric Heisserer, the screenwriter of the hit sci-fi film Arrival, and illustrated by Raul Allen and Patricia Martin, the comic focuses on three characters with abilities that some might call worthless, but to Livewire—one of Valiant’s toughest characters—these three have much more potential than anyone ever gave them credit for, which is probably why the youngsters are in the crosshairs of a murderous beast known as Rexo. Let’s just say, I freaking love this series, but I have to admit having almost no knowledge of Livewire other than her brief appearances in The Valiant and Bloodshot: Reborn. I’m honestly still a bit confused about her as I’m sure those who have read Harbinger and Unity fully understand the character and her powers, but with Secret Weapons she is somewhat enigmatic…and someone I definitely want to know more about. It also seems as if the three main kids of the series have appeared previously, but I’m not certain where; looks like Harbinger and Unity might be the next place to look? Still, despite not fully knowing the histories of the pivotal characters, Secret Weapons is a fun, thrilling, intense comic that has me hoping for more and wanting to read the recently released zero issue, as well.

Everything I have read from Valiant thus far has been great. I definitely want to read more, but I’m not sure if I will first immerse myself in the mythos of the epic X-O Manowar, or check out Harbinger and Unity, or go super cosmic with the three Divinity miniseries. Knowing me, I’m pretty sure the answer will be “all of the above,” and I’ll be discussing them in “A Valiant Effort (Part 2)” at some point down the road. Bottom line: Valiant is very much deserving of your attention. You should give it to them.

This Week’s Reading List

I’m out of time, but then again I only had two items in my pull this week, and I’m not yet ready to mention the biggie I am close to finishing. See you next week.


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