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Valiant Entertainment

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Valiant Comics
Type Comic publisher
Industry Comics
Founded 1989/2008
Founder(s) Jim Shooter
Bob Layton
Headquarters New York City
Key people Peter Cuneo, Chairman
Jason Kothari, CEO & Founder
Dinesh Shamdasani, Chief Creative Officer & Founder
Gavin Cuneo, CFO & Head of Strategic Development[1]
Warren Simons, Executive Editor
Parent Valiant Entertainment
Website ValiantEntertainment.com

Valiant Comics is a comic book company founded in 1989, acquired in 1994 by video game company Acclaim Entertainment, and acquired by Valiant Entertainment in 2007.

HistoryEdit

Voyager CommunicationsEdit

In 1988, former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics Jim Shooter, former manager of the Allman Brothers Band Steven J. Massarsky, and a group of investors attempted to purchase Marvel Entertainment. They submitted the second highest bid, with financier Ronald Perelman submitting the highest bid and acquiring Marvel.

Shooter and Massarsky instead formed Voyager Communications in 1989 with significant venture capital financing from Triumph Capital.[1] After publishing licensed comics with Nintendo and the World Wrestling Federation, Voyager repositioned itself to focus on its initial plan – creating original superhero comic books under the Valiant Comics imprint.

Valiant recruited numerous writers and artists from Marvel, including industry legend Barry Windsor-Smith, creator of Wolverine's acclaimed Weapon X storyline, and Bob Layton, architect of many of Iron Man's key stories.

Harbinger 01-00

Cover image of Harbinger#1 from Valiant Comics

Shooter, Windsor-Smith, and Layton served at the creative helm of Valiant, and they recruited a diverse group of both veteran and young creators to complete their team. Valiant launched an interconnected line of superhero comics with Western Publishing licensed characters and then turned to creating an original universe of characters.

In 1992, Valiant released original titles, including Harbinger, X-O Manowar, Rai, and Shadowman, followed by a major crossover event called Unity, during which Eternal Warrior and Archer & Armstrong were introduced. Harbinger #1 was listed on the top ten List of Wizard Magazine, the industry's leading trade magazine, for a record eight consecutive months and was eventually named "Collectible of the Decade," while Rai #0 appeared on Wizard's top ten list for a new record nine consecutive months. In 1992, Valiant's Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for co-creating the Valiant Universe.

Valiant also pioneered a number of marketing innovations, such as the zero "origin" issues, the gold logo program, coupons redeemable for original comic books, and chromium covers. Following the popular Unity crossover, Valiant released Bloodshot, Ninjak, H.A.R.D. Corps, Second Life of Dr. Mirage, and Timewalker, among other titles. Valiant's market share reached a level almost identical to DC Comics, a company whose characters were created 50 years earlier, and in 1993 Valiant was named Publisher of the Year ahead of Marvel Comics and DC Comics. In terms of sales, Valiant's comics rivaled those of the industry leaders Marvel, DC, and Image. During this period, comics based on Valiant's characters regularly occupied numerous spots in Wizard Top 10 hottest comics of a given month. Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, Rai, Shadowman, Ninjak, Eternal Warrior and others would compete with Batman, Spider-Man, Spawn, X-Men and others for the top rankings. A series of highly successful characters cemented Valiant's place as an industry heavyweight, for example — Bloodshot #1 sold 900,000 copies, X-O Manowar #0 sold 850,000, Rai #9 sold 800,000, Secret Weapons #1 sold 650,000, Ninjak #1 sold 500,000, Second Life of Dr. Mirage sold 500,000, etc. At this point, Valiant characters had sold more than 50 million comic books.

Acclaim ComicsEdit

In 1994, Triumph Capital decided to exit their investment, and Valiant was sold to video game publisher Acclaim Entertainment.[1] Acclaim later discontinued publishing Valiant comic books and focused on developing Valiant action adventure video games targeting a younger demographic than Valiant comic book readers. From 1996 to 2002, Acclaim created a number of successful multi-platform released Valiant video games, such as the Shadowman franchise and Iron Man X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal (which featured Valiant's X-O Manowar alongside Marvel's Iron Man) with Valiant video game sales exceeded 8 million units and grossed over $300 million.

In 2003, Acclaim Entertainment's video game business was taking significant risks, including limited diversification. After losing a major sports video game license and without any new hits, Acclaim became financially insolvent and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2005.[1]

Valiant EntertainmentEdit

In 2007, a group of investment professionals and media executives led by entrepreneurs Jason Kothari and Dinesh Shamdasani acquired all the rights to the Valiant Comics library from Acclaim Entertainment's estate and formed Valiant Entertainment (VE).[1]

Legal battles for the rights to Valiant trademarks occurred as a rival group, Valiant Intellectual Properties LLC (VIP), which had made trademark filings for some titles, due to a belief that Acclaim had failed to renew the trademarks correctly. This held up distribution of titles by Diamond Distribution. VE eventually won, with Jim Shooter continuing to write new stories for its hardcover reprints.[2] In late 2008, Jim Shooter was hired as Editor-In-Chief but only lasted until the summer of 2009. In October 2009, Valiant sued Jim Shooter for breach of contract, after he accepted a writing contract with Dark Horse's relaunch of the Gold Key characters, considered key to Valiant's publishing plan.[2]

In August 2011, Cuneo & Co. invested in Valiant Entertainment with Cuneo and Co.'s principals, Peter and Gavin Cuneo, joined Valiant's board as chairman and director, respectively.[1]

Valiant Entertainment will begin publishing new comics based on the Valiant Comics universe of characters in May 2012. [2] Starting with a new X-O Manowar series by writer Robert Venditti and artist Cary Nord. [3]

VEI revealed plans to release the world's first "talking" comic book cover, featuring QR code technology that allows the reader to use their smartphone to hear X-O Manowar speak.

UniversesEdit

Valiantuniverse

The Valiant Universe, drawn by Bernard Chang, inked by Bob Layton, Tom Ryder and various

The Valiant Universe is the fictional shared universe where all comic stories published by Valiant Comics take place.

Valiant Universe (VH1)Edit

Pre-UnityEdit

In the beginning, the Valiant Universe was a reflection of Jim Shooter's vision for an ideal comic book universe: character-driven, strong continuity with emphasis on science fiction, long-reaching consequences and internal consistency. Valiant was the first company to attempt to follow a real-world timeline, in which events in the comics occurred at a pace similar to their publication schedules. The company writers adhered to real-world science as much as possible. No matter how powerful the characters became, they were still affected by friction, Newton's Laws of Motion, Einstein's laws of relativity, etc.

While the Valiant Universe had its share of aliens, the writers never employed such popular science fiction conventions as universal translators or faster-than-light travel. All Valiant Universe superheroes had powers derived from psionic awareness (the "power of the mind"), energy manipulation or technology. Valiant Comics's writers tried to emphasize the human aspect of superpowers, as well as how the actions of various super-powered individuals affected average human beings. Most Valiant heroes were not as moral as average comic book heroes with many having more in common with 1940's pulp adventurers than traditional superheroes. Valiant Comics titles were set in a tight, carefully integrated fictional universe, where events in one title could have indirect effects on other titles. In several cases, major characters debuted in established titles before their own titles were launched.

The Valiant Universe was created by Solar as the result of his attempt to recreate his universe after he accidentally destroyed it.[4] As a result, a universe similar to his own emerged. Solar's psychological tendencies manifested themselves in his recreation of the universe. It was eventually discovered that several times during Valiant Universe's history, Earth was attacked by a race of spider-like aliens, who sought to use the human race for slave labor and food. Their efforts were indirectly responsible for the creation of several heroes, most notably X-O Manowar and Shadowman.

The early 1990s saw the rise of psionically empowered humans called Harbingers. They were led by Toyo Harada, a powerful psionic businessman with a Messiah complex. While on the surface he operated in a manner similar to Professor Xavier of the X-Men, he actually sought to use Harbingers to take over Earth, in order to "save the world from itself", with himself as leader. The history of the Valiant Universe's super-powered community was greatly influenced by Geomancers, human beings who had an ability to listen to psychic impressions left on most everyday objects.

From the beginning, all Valiant Comics titles were divided into two groups:

  • titles in the 20th century (the present)
  • titles set in the 41st century (beginning with 4000 A.D.).

Heroes from the present were not aware of heroes in the future until the Unity crossover. Four heroes from the present - Solar, Gilad the Eternal Warrior and his two brothers, Ivar ("Timewalker") and Aram (Armstrong from Archer & Armstrong) - survived into the 41st century, but their experiences through the centuries had made them different from their contemporary counterparts.

VALIANT-BANNER-FINAL

Post-UnityEdit

Following Jim Shooter's departure, the Valiant Universe changed under the creative direction of Bob Layton and Kevin VanHook. In 1994, Valiant trimmed their comics line while moving to a two-issues-per-month schedule for their more popular titles (Bloodshot, Harbinger, Ninjak, Shadowman, X-O Manowar etc.). Soon after, Acclaim Entertainment, who had bought Valiant several months before, restarted the comics line with new versions of the heroes which could be used as video game properties.

Armada and Windjammer divisionsEdit

In 1995, Valiant Comics created two new division imprints, Armada and Windjammer. Armada focused on the publisher's line to publish licensed properties.[5] Properties licensed to the Armada imprint included a series of various original Magic: The Gathering comic books, based on the popular collectible card game.

Windjammer was established as Acclaim's creator-owned line,[6] for comic book writers and artists to publish their own material without giving up the copyrights to their creations. Titles published under Windjammer included Neal Adams' creator owned Knighthawk, Samuree, Valeria the She-Bat, and Mike Grell's creator owned Starslayer and Bar Sinister.

Acclaim Universe (VH2)Edit

When Acclaim Entertainment bought Valiant Comics, the universe was completely restarted. In 1996, with all previous Valiant Universe (VH1) titles canceled, Fabian Nicieza, a former editor and writer from Marvel Comics, was hired as senior vice-president and editor-in-chief and given the task of revamping Valiant Comics properties.

As editor, Nicieza oversaw the new version, dubbed VH2 by the company, which re-imagined all of the Valiant characters such as Shadowman, X-O Manowar and Ninjak, using the top comic book writers of the period including Warren Ellis, Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek and Garth Ennis. The line also introduced new titles such as Troublemakers, Trinity Angels and the hit comedy Quantum and Woody.

The most successful titles during this period were the re-imagined Turok and Shadowman, which sold well. The characters were later developed into successful video game properties by Acclaim's parent company, Acclaim Entertainment.

Originally, this new universe appeared to have little to do with the original Valiant Universe, or VH-1. However, later crossovers revealed that the Acclaim Universe was the result of a time paradox caused by Solar.

The Acclaim Universe was similar to other superhero-based universes, but wasn't as interconnected as the Valiant Universe that preceded it. Writers began to experiment with the scientific aspects of Valiant Universe and moved away from scientific fact and theory, towards science fiction.

Acclaim Comics met with initial success but by early 1999 most of the line had been cancelled. Acclaim Entertainment suffered huge losses on a number of video game titles and were cutting costs on their non-core businesses. Nicieza eventually left and staff levels were cut. The next year Acclaim attempted to merge the two universes with Unity 2000.

Jim Shooter's Valiant Universe (VH-0)Edit

In 2000, during Acclaim's Unity 2000 crossover, writer Jim Shooter introduced yet another alternate universe, unofficially called VH-0 by fans. In essence, it was his vision of what the Valiant Universe would have been if he had stayed with the company. According to Jim Shooter's plot, at the end of the crossover the VH-0 universe was destroyed and most of its characters killed; VH-1 and VH-2 were fused together into a new universe. However, Acclaim continued to suffer losses on their video games while the series suffered a number of administrative problems (art return and payment issues) and were forced to cancel the series after only the third issue.

In 2005, the rights to the Valiant and Acclaim original characters (such as Archer and Armstrong, Rai, Quantum and Woody etc.) were auctioned off. The rights to the three licensed characters (Solar, Magnus and Turok) reverted to Random House, which currently owns Western Publishing and Gold Key Comics properties.

TitlesEdit

Valiant UniverseEdit

Valilogo

Company logo

CharactersEdit

Main article: List of Valiant Comics characters

There are approximately 1500 characters in the Valiant universe.

Acclaim UniverseEdit

While most characters that appeared in Acclaim Comics were altered versions of previous characters, some were created specifically for Acclaim.

Trading cardsEdit

Main article: Valiant Comics trading cards

During the trading card boom of the early 90s, Valiant Comics, through licenses with the major trading card manufacturers, produced a number of trading card sets and promotional cards to highlight the comics and characters of the Valiant Universe. The major trading card sets include:

Title Year Producer No. of Basic cards No. of Chase cards
Unity card set 1992 Comic Images 90 6
Valiant Era series 1 1993 Upper Deck 120 20
Deathmate 1993 Upper Deck 110 16
Valiant Era series 2 1994 Upper Deck 140 27
Harbinger Files [7] Unproduced

Edit

Valiant's first logo appeared on its licensed products, Nintendo and Wrestling comics, before appearing on its superhero line. The logo made its first appearance on a superhero comic in May 1991, on Magnus Robot Fighter #1 (but without a comic box). The logo first appeared in a comic box on in May 1991, on Solar #5 and Magnus #8.

Valiant updated its logo, changing the typeface from a fancy script to a thick bold script, in November 1992, this change occurred only two months after the end of the successful Unity crossover and following the departure of Jim Shooter.

Immediately after the Chaos Effect crossover the logo was updated again: the type face was kept but the wording was changed to "Valiant Presents". The compass logo was diminished in size and moved from below the text.

After the sale to Acclaim Entertainment Inc. for $65 million, the logo was completely revamped. The compass logo was replaced by a large letter "V" that appeared above the wording "Valiant", which appeared in a new type face (the same went with both the Armada and Windjammer imprints).

To coincide with the Acclaim Comics relaunch in 1996, another completely revamped logo was created. This logo signified the synergy between Acclaim and Valiant, merging the letters "A" and "V" into one logo with the wording "Acclaim Comics Valiant Heroes".

More recently, following the formation of Valiant Entertainment, the compass logo has reappeared along with a variation of the original type face. The only major change is the addition of the wording "Entertainment".

On August 15, 2007 Valiant Entertainment unveiled the new Valiant logo, designed by corporate identity consultant Henry Steiner; the logo to be used in all media made its debut on the Harbinger: The Beginning hardcover.

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Reiss, Robert (2010-02-01). "How Marvel Became A Business Superhero". Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/01/peter-cuneo-marvel-leadership-managing-turnaround.html. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Valiant Entertainment Sues Jim Shooter". Bleeding Cool.com. October 6, 2009. http://www.bleedingcool.com/2009/10/06/valiant-entertainment-sues-jim-shooter/. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  3. "EXCLUSIVE: Venditti & Nord Relaunch "X-O Manowar"". CBR.com. 17 January 2012. http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=36457. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  4. Solar: Man of the Atom (#0-10)
  5. Armada at the Comic Book DB, accessed September 6, 2007.
  6. Windjammer at the Comic Book DB, accessed September 6, 2007.
  7. All Things VALIANT: Valiant Files Card Set - An Overview, http://allthingsvaliant.blogspot.com, June 26, 2010

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

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