|The Valiant 'Verse|
My new favourite, shiny, thing is the Valiant Universe, currently marking the fifth anniversary of its relaunch - and updating - of the legendary Jim Shooter's late '80s creation.
I can't believe it's taken me this long to latch on to the brilliance of the largest comic book superhero universe outside of Marvel and DC.
While it offers a broad spectrum of titles, there isn't an overabundance of characters, meaning its quite easy to quickly pick up the flavour of the world on offer.
I'll confess I initially picked up some Valiant titles a couple of years ago - and honestly can't even remember what they were - but for some reason they didn't work for me.
However, my eyes were opened recently when I picked up the opening salvo of the new arc for X-O Manowar (a fifth century Visigoth abducted by aliens, who then escapes - after stealing their sacred sentient suit of armour - only to return to Earth and discover that 1,600 years have passed). This then persuaded me to go back and read the title from its first issue - and I was hooked.
My Valiant reading has now expanded to include Faith (a geeky, optimistic, day-dreaming, plus-sized heroine with flight and telekinetic powers), Eternal Warrior (a grizzled and immortal protector of the Earth), and Archer & Armstrong (a mismatched couple of would-be heroes, a young assassin and immortal boozy brother of the Eternal Warrior)... but I still have plenty more to try now that I've got the bi between my teeth.
In August, Valiant is publishing a one-shot entitled Divinity #0, which is designed to be a universe-wide jumping on for new readers... so I'll definitely be picking that up.
It is said to include characters such as X-O Manowar, Ninjak, Faith, Bloodshot, and others in a story about the return to Earth of Abram Adams aka Divinity, the god-like Russian star of the recent Divinity titles.
In the publicity for the new issue, Valiant Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons said:
"Almost overnight, Divinity has become one of Valiant’s most beloved and most acclaimed characters – an inspired combination of widescreen super-heroics and intense science fiction unlike anything else in comics. Now, in the pages of Abram Adams’s first zero issue, Matt Kindt and Renato Guedes have envisioned the perfect way to introduce Divinity readers to the full breadth and scope of Valiant’s universe by pulling back to reveal the massive cast of powers at play around Abram and his continued impact on the fabric of our world. This is a guided tour of what makes Valiant tick in 2017, and it could very well be one of the most important jumping-on points we’ve produced to date."One of the things I like about Valiant is that, with a smaller pool of characters to draw upon (although this is always slowly growing), the world they are creating feels more real, there is a stronger verisimilitude than the Big Two, as major events in one title - and their aftermath - are felt and referred to across other titles.
It still has that feeling - to the gamer in me - of a successful roleplaying campaign that embraces a number of groups of players (e.g. Aaron Allston's Strike Force). The sort of thing I aspire to run one day (once medical science has found a way to extend the human lifespan).