I’ve done a couple of posts about VALIANT comics, regarding cameo appearances and highlighting what issues from the new (post-2012) VALIANT universe that may be worth keeping an eye on, but I thought it might be time too look at VALIANT as a whole now that we’ve got more than just rumors about VALIANT films with what seems to be a solid commitment and direction from Sony in bringing VALIANT to the big screen.
I thought it might be time to drop a list of ten taking into account the entire rich history of VALIANT comics now that it’s just too late to buy them at near record low prices.
I want to point out that these ten aren’t a secret. VALIANT has had a small dedicated base that survived its fall after mainstream success of the early ’90s, and the truth is many of the keys talked about in the ’90s, such as in the pages of Wizard, are the same ones I’m going to talk about now.
What I do what to stress is that when it comes to film and tv, not only is it enough to know that the chief factor in the current comic book hobby in backissue heat and future speculation is the proliferation of IP to other mediums, but it’s also important to know how it applies.
The lucky thing?
I say this because as members of an ageing hobby with very small gains in the last generation into the base to get excited about new things, we have spent our time inventing other reasons why some comics should be desirable pre-this age of comic properties becoming once again pop culture phenomenons.
For example, while supply/demand is obviously a very real factor, things like short(er) print run last issues of series are only of interest to diehard fans who want to complete a run, and aren’t really the subject to this market force. Same goes for any issues in the middle of runs that have a premium on them because for some reason they have a lower relative print run in high grade that otherwise have no redeeming qualities (for example Rai #3–5 — sweet books, historically valued relative to issues around them, and I love them but the multimedia interest isn’t in those).
Double for oddball stuff. While it’s not going to hurt, existing high priced oddities items like Bloodshot #0 Platinum are not going to see the exponential increases in interest and price the way simple first appearances do. Old favorites of the base, and I love Eternal Warrior #1 gold flat, CEAR, Unity Red, and Harbinger #0 Pink, as much as the next guy — and I remain a buyer to this day — but these books are gems of the diehard in a braver, bigger, world, not mainstreet. I’m not saying they aren’t worth anything, clearly they are and have been, they’re just not exciting on that other level… where the normal people live.
We loved it, we learned a lot, we’re hyper-VALIANT nerds, but we have to prepare ourselves to exit niche and exist outside of it. It may not happen but that’s no excuse to not be ready.
Obviously I don’t think they will ever go down, and I’m not saying interest doesn’t grow, it’s just not an exponential or (relatively) limitless in that regard. Once everyone has all of their CEAR’s (Chaos Effect Alpha Red) there just isn’t a huge growing market for that book after an initial burst of interest of old fans making sure they get in, even for one that will maintain its value.
Remember when everyone wanted the last issues of Silver Surfer? Not anymore. They want what’s relevant, even if it’s widely available. They want that prelude to the Infinity Gauntlet.
Don’t get swayed by inside baseball angles, first appearances rule. The Rookie Cards. This list won’t differ much from others, but I think my #1 will be different.
ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG #0 GOLD
While not one of the two titles that were most spotlighted in the recent movie announcements, this one is tops for me. First appearances of both characters AND not plentiful in any grade. When compared to other possible claimants A&A #0 has the best combo while still being a title you can reasonably see become a film or tv show (I would figure it, Shadowman and X-O seem like the obvious 2nd tier choices, maybe with Ninjak thrown in). The gold edition was only printed to 5000 copies making it one of the toughest books in the entire applicable VALIANT line, and it’s a first appearance. This is the ONLY comic on this list that has that ridiculously low print debuting character like Walking Dead # 1 did.
The risk? Bloodshot and Harbinger don’t happen or underperform and we never see it made.
Historically one of the two major keys for VALIANT fans (along with Solar #10). This issue has issues with the spine/bindery, which is probably why it’s always been tougher in high grade.
You couple that with needing to get it with the interior coupons intact, and it’s the first appearance of all of the Harbinger kids — who are right on the cover, and a memorable one — and you have a winner. That said, it’s not quite as tough in ultra high grade as some thought. Copies became available when there was demand and while it will never be a book that has nearly as many copies, high grade or otherwise, out in the wild as it’s MARVEL and DC contemporaries, it’s not a book anyone has ever had a problem finding recently. Still, a very sweet book, and makes me miss David Lapham on shit I care about.
I mentioned Wizard before, and don’t laugh, but that publication still maintains an odd influence or at least is part of something that does. MANY comics maintain a premium, even if not it’s historical peak, partly because we are simply USED to it. There are many examples of this, one is Birds of Prey #18, which is a great story but non-first issue, non-first appearance, non-short print comics don’t go up in price because they are great stories.
The risk? Not much. This book has always been in demand on some level but I would say while I love Joshua Dysart Harbinger work, it hasn’t shown me a Pete that I actually am pleased to see more of, and I think Pete has to be a focal point. Guy is creating some killer characters to add to a rogue’s gallery though.
ETERNAL WARRIOR #4
There are a lot of these. For that reason you want to buy ultra high grade copies, but this is the first appearance of Bloodshot, whose name is the most prominent when you see these news items about VALIANT movies and has a fresh new series from Jeff Lemire and was one of the FCBD stories. It is a cameo appearance, Bloodshot appears on the last page, kicking in a door (Kick in the door, waving the four-four) like all comic book characters should debut, but it is the book that seems the market has chosen.
This is a book you could have got for a couple of dollars for a decade, but Bloodshot is primed to be the flagship and that could supercede the print run if we see a Wanted like adaptation (which is shooting VERY HIGH).
The other of the two traditional VALIANT keys I mentioned in the Harbinger #1 entry. A little lower than I think some people would have it… which in itself wants me to put it higher. Why? I’m not a believer in the Eternal Warrior right now. Love him, but it’s the one VALIANT character where I really hate the design and has not had a comic series in the new launch that’s worth reading. I CAN totally see his character being somewhat of a framing character and interacting across the universe, but I think this is the one property whose absence in film and tv solicitations screams the loudest to me. I think this is a tough sell, even though I’m kind of into, for the first time with Gilad, axe wielding Highlander with his cute Geomancer Jr. from the future. I think that could make Eternal Warrior, which is why I said that The VALIANT #4 was a game changer.
This is pretty tough book to get in 9.8 grade BUT is fairly easy in 9.6.
Harada is the preeminent VALIANT “villain” and this is his first appearance. It’s also the first mention of the Harbinger Foundation. Nuff said. Paging Ken Watanabe. Tell him to text Leo.
X-O MANOWAR #1
Can I admit something? I’ve always hated this cover. Now that that’s out of the way, this book exists in two worlds though. In one sense I think it’s a lot of people’s obvious choice as a potential mega key, but on the other hand it feels like X-O is not being mentioned like a few other titles are in terms of being ready for prime time in these press releases we’ve seen. It will be expensive. You couple the latter with high availability and you might have a book that catches people ignoring it, which seems odd since it is, before movie announcements, I think up there with Bloodshot as the common answers of “what will be the first VALIANT movie?” I think this is the issue, which is plentiful, that still has a chance to gain more traction. This feels like Iron Man #1 if Iron Man # 1 was a first appearance, and this was the new VALIANT launch book for a reason. Smells like flagship to me, even though it’s likely Bloodshot will get the first chance.
X-O MANOWAR #4
One of of those classic cameos I’ve talked about before, this is the first appearance of Jack Boniface, aka Shadowman. His first full appearance would be a month later in Shadowman #1. I’ve talked about why I think a Shadowman movie excited me even though the comic, at best, has been uneven thus far — though like I said in my Dead Drop #1 review, I think we found a creative team that could be interesting on the character. There’s slightly more Shadowman #1’s out there than X-O #4’s, but there are enough to go around in high grade of both.
MAGNUS #5 /FLIPBOOK RAI #1
Don’t get this confused with Rai #1 of the regular series. Magnus #5 is the first appearance of Rai, the first original VALIANT character. This book came with attached coupons so make sure the copy you grab has them. Rai would take place in the future, which means expensive, but I’d love to see Clayton Crain’s visuals come to big screen. I’m not sure how I see how VALIANT’s future timeline plays into film and tv plans, unless we see an Ivar project.
By the way go get Archer & Armstrong #8 too for that 1st Ivar.
I’m sad that Magnus cant be in the fold because I’ve always really loved the Magnus #7 cover with him and Rai brawling. Oddly, out of all the projects, for the life of me I can’t figure out why something called Magnus: ROBOT FIGHTER isn’t already a movie for somebody. A guy in a battleskirt just beating the shit out of robots in the future? Sold.
Just because I listed Eternal Warrior #4 doesn’t mean I was going to leave this bad boy out, which only slightly breaks my rule. There are a lot of these, and it was heavily pimped when it came out, and I think it’s one of the several dozen images indicative of that era in comics — it’s legitimately iconic. I say I’m close to breaking my rule because this is a landmark VALIANT issue that tells you why VALIANT was the best thing going, but there is a real reason to not ignore it too. This is the first full first appearance of Bloodshot and it has this sweet cover thing going for it, but like I said there are a ton of these out there but not more than…
There’s a bunch of these out there and both this and Bloodshot #7 were noticed by fans back in the day because it was being followed up by an on-going series penciled and inked by the team that would later go on to revive some small indie boutique publisher called MARVEL, in Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti. I know it’s iffy, but man that damn Matt Kindt is making me a believer with the recently launched new Ninjak series. Bloodshot #6 is the first appearance of Colin King, aka Ninjak, while #7 gives us Ninjak in full costume.
That’s ten but I just want to add Divinity is MY BOOK at the moment. Kindt is crushing it. Love that it’s getting heat. First appearance of Abram Adams to boot though probably a too powerful character t ever get a feature.
Now if only somebody could bring back DEFIANT.
Bonus! Here are some new characters that you may want to look into!
I first want to make a basic statement for the possible uninitiated. All of the older comics, the pre-2012 output, has nothing to do with the current VALIANT comics, with the sole exception of (I think) the Christopher Priest & Mark Bright Q2: The Return of Quantum & Woody. We are in a totally different universe, none of those stories happened or are continued.
The names are the same, a lot of the designs are still there, and while the current VALIANT owners do own all of those properties and material — minus those involving the three licensed characters from Gold Key, Magnus, Solar, and Turok, which no iteration of VALIANT ever owned — this universe started completely fresh in 2012.
That said, let’s be very clear, as of right now, almost all of the interest in VALIANT back issues is targeting the original VALIANT series. I will get into what to look out for with those books in a later post, but I just wanted to stress that as of right now, the new VALIANT books are not what the market is choosing as the choice VALIANT books to pick up and stash away.
You can take that news a couple of ways. The first is that you can eliminate them from your own searches and focus on the old books OR you can view it as an opportunity to pull of a shark move and cherry pick what the new VALIANT runs have going for them.
I’m not sure I’d recommend that, but you can always read them, it’s good stuff.
What do the new VALIANT runs have going for them?
They aren’t selling a ton. Most of these books, minus a few issue #1 pushes in print form are numbering around that 6–11k print run, which is similar numbers to the under the radar IMAGE titles that people speculated on. Sure, you’ve seen some of the first issues have much higher initial print runs, and several issues get multiple printings (it was recently announced that Divinity #1 is getting a third printing), but most of these are nowhere near as available as most of the once thought rare pre-Unity VALIANTs of the ’90s that shot up because of their relative to the time scarcity. Something like a Rai #3 or #4 which were paraded around as being in limited quantity but they are by a few factors more abundant than some of the current VALIANTS.
There is diversity. New VALIANT has strong female characters and is racially diverse. If I have to explain this to you, yes, you’re a racist or at the very least incredible daft.
There are some new characters. And they are in these aforementioned low print books. While only one new character has their own current book — Abram Adams in Matt Kindt’s Divinity — I dig on some of the new players. Here’s a list:
… something you should know about VALIANT fans is that think everything VALIANT is important and worthy of note (because it’s mostly true), but the real word truth is that the comic market doesn’t care about the first time every little element is mentioned or introduced. RARELY are items or places that important to get noted, much less garner premiums.
Kryptonite is one.
The Batmobile is another.
There aren’t many others. One of the few costume changes that I can think of in the history of comics that garnered last attention was the black Spider-Man outfit, and to a lesser degree the red Daredevil costume. A more modern example is Psylocke, but that’s really almost a completely different character.
Nobody is scouring the net to beat everyone to get the best deal on the first appearance of Knowhere, which admittedly is way cooler than most things in life. Also, I don’t really recall many examples of character death issues climbing in price because of a film or TV show. Just not a a big enough factor to be relevant.
With that in mind…
Archer & Armstrong #1 (first Mary-Maria) — I LOVE this character. When you look for potential female leads, she’s a strong one. Think Hit-Girl but doper and with flavor. Also has the addition of being the 1st new Universe appearance of Archer and Armstrong, but I’m telling you, nobody will care about that because there is a much more enticing example from the original run to collect.
Archer & Armstrong #6 (1st Kay McHenry) — Geomancers are big in VALIANT and Emanuela drew us a cutie for the new universe.
Shadowman #5 (1st appearance of Shan Fong/Dr. Mirage) — Old mantle, new character and I wonder if VALIANT learned from the older series where Carmen was more interesting than Hwen. I think you can easily see this as a TV series but unfortunately it does feel a bit similar to things we’ve already seen. Really strong first issue to a series (The Death Defying Dr. Mirage) that sputtered for me a bit afterwards IMHO. Maybe a character that fits more as a guest in a Shadowman movie first. Speaking of which…
Shadowman #13 (1st Punk Mambo) — Not a fan, but VALIANT liked her enough to give her a one-shot. Hey. I can’t get into Sean Murphy’s joint either, even though he’s amazing. I have no special affinity for punk, rock, or jesus.
Harbinger #2 (First Darpan) — felt like he was going to be a much bigger deal when Harbinger first started. I recall when solicits/previews came out about the issue mentioning him there was a much bigger sense of import, as many people analyzing his name, mostly because we are a people who grew up think “Omega level Harbingers/Psiot” are a big deal. Feels like a character that will be in the background where you will be like “oh that’s Darpan” more than anything else. Maybe gets a name check, but I’m hoping his possible film or tv reality gets boosted by future evolution in comics. He does feels like a character that would just be somewhat redundant though as a major player because shine has to go to Pete and Harada already
Harbinger #3 (Livewire) — as a I said above I don’t expect the new first appearances of characters that have older incarnations to outpace the classic books/appearances, but if there is one it might be Livewire. The new Livewire is much more distinct, and much more relevant. This Livewire is one of my favorite characters in VALIANT.
X-O Manowar #1 (first Vine) — the flagship/first book is not really important but it helps. It’s the Vine that are key, because it’s hard to believe no matter what the film is, the Vine will either appear, be referenced, or be an end credits scene. Keep in mind X-O had a large print when compared to most of the VALIANT titles. Get that gold.
Divinity #1 (first Abram Adams) — through one issue it’s my favorite VALIANT comic, but it feels like the longest shot for now. Just not sure how this character fits in a film, particularly a phase one film.
Ivar #1 (1st Neela Sethi) — if they ever do a Timewalker project, his companion is going to be a big casting announcement. Apparently people like Doctor Who. I’m not sure why but they do.
The VALIANT #4 (1st unnamed Geomancer?) — the write up of The VALIANT #4 to this issue I mentioned above gets into this, and you may need to look at an earlier issue of Rai (written by Kindt), in what may qualify as a classic VALIANT cameo appearance.
Imperium #2 (1st Gravedog) — VALIANT is building a rogues gallery.
I think that all of the variants, the toughest of any, for any of these issues will be the go to books, barring secondary and successive print runs. I’m talking first print run variants.
I know something like QR X-O Manowar #1 has a premium on it, but I just don’t see that as a book that garners much outside interest, meaning, I don’t think that book gets another exponential bump that other books will, though I don’t see the current price dropping because it’s one of those books that has a perfect availability to diehard VALIANT fan ratio. I could be talking out of my ass because I kind of thought it was on the overwhelmingly meh side (though I guess it had an element of fun in it) but
I’m trying not to let that cloud my opinion. I know a lot of people would want to put the Bleeding Monk on here, but on screen I view him as a plot device more than a character.
I also don’t want to come off as completely ignoring the first issues of these new series or the first appearances in the new universe/continuity, I just want to to stress that they would be secondary thoughts in what already is a line that’s not getting the initial thrust as the VALIANT universe to pluck from. I want to stress that again. Right now the market is favoring the classic appearances, which makes a lot of sense in a hobby that’s first (and many times only) move is first appearances. Luckily, we don’t have anything to be embarrassed about because our classic books are awesome and hold up.
My favorite? I really like the possibilities of Mary-Maria. She’s a player in what I feel is one of the prime easy to see on screen properties in Archer & Armstrong; that issue has a gold edition; and I think she’s a cool female character. I’m really vibing with the new Geomancer too.
I just want to add that it’s becoming increasingly rare to experience actual new characters interacting with a universe. Much of the big 2, minus sublime outliers like The Runaways, new characters are either just new costumes or variations of older characters or, as some believe, are not getting creator’s ‘A’ game because they save them for their indie projects.
Gone are the days of needle movers like Deadpool, Cable, and Venom being created. I suspect talents like Lemire, Kindt, Dysart and Van Lente know they have enough talent to drop gems everywhere.