Today we look back 10 years to see how Valiant Comics triumphantly returned to the world of comics with XO Manowar #1.
It’s “Look Back,” where every four weeks of a month, I’ll highlight a single issue of a comic that’s appeared in the past and talk about that issue (often on a larger scale, like the series in as a whole, etc.). Each spotlight will be a preview of a comic from a different year that was released in the same month X years ago. The first spotlight of the month takes a look at a book released this month ten years ago. The second spotlight is on a book released this month 25 years ago. The third spotlight looks at a book that came out this month 50 years ago. The fourth spotlight looks at a book released this month 75 years ago. The occasional fifth week (we’re looking at weeks in a broad sense, so if a month has five Sundays or five Saturdays, that counts as having a fifth week) look at books from 20/30/40/60/70/ 80 years old.
Today, we leave in May 2012 for the release of XO Manowar #1 by Robert Vendetti, Cary Nord, Stefano Gaudiano, Moose Baumann, and Dave Lanphear (behind a glossy cover by Esad Ribic, who you can see in the featured image for this article), as Valiant Comics returned to the world of comics.
VALIANT RETURNS TO COMICS BY RETURNING TO ITS PAST
Founded by Jim Shooter in 1989 using some of the Gold Key licensed characters (Magnus, Robot Fighter and Solar, Man of the Atom) as the original basis for the shared comic book universe (to give the company some leg up). lead in recognition), Valiant Comics quickly became one of the hottest independent publishers in the industry. For a while there it really felt like there was a “Big Four” of Marvel, DC, Image and Valiant, that’s the size of part of the market that Valiant took around 1992/ 1993. After a sale to Acclaim Entertainment in 1994, however, which was timed almost perfectly (or whatever the opposite of “perfectly”) was with the collapse of the comic book speculator market, Valiant fell on hard times and ceased his activities.
In 2005, Dinesh Shamdasani and Jason Kothari purchased Valiant’s intellectual property (pretty much everything but the Golden Key characters) from Acclaim when the video game company went bankrupt a year earlier. The entrepreneurial couple launched Valiant Entertainment and Valiant was eventually relaunched as a comic book company in 2012 with the “Summer of Valiant”, which had four titles released one per month from May to August. The first comic launched was XO Manowar.
Valiant brought together a great mix of talent for its early books, using writers like Joshua Dysart, Duane Swierczynski and Fred Van Lente and artists who had already had success at Marvel and DC like Khari Evans, Manuel Garcia and Clayton Henry and , of course, the creative team of XO Manowarwith Cary Nord recently released from an acclaimed run on Conan the Barbarian at Dark Horse Comics, making him the perfect match for Aric the Visigoth.
The first issue opened with a striking infographic by Rian Hughes that really grabbed the audience’s attention…
And then we let Cary Nord and Stefano Gaudiano do the Cary Nord and Stefano Gaudiano things (they’re two of the best in the business as excellent comic book artists)…
XO MANOWAR REFLECTS THE NEW COMIC TALE STYLE
When we’re introduced to our hero, Aric, we can see right away that Vendetti takes a very different approach to storytelling than Jim Shooter and Steve Englehart did when they launched the original. XO Manowar thirty years ago…
One of the biggest shifts in comic book storytelling has been the so-called “decompression” of comic book writing, and you can see it in play here, as Vendetti introduces us to Aric, lets us see his bravery in battle against the Romans and then see him and some of his compatriots captured by alien invaders…
Aric got his hands on the XO Manowar armor by, like, page 10 of his original comic, but in the reboot things go at a slower pace as Vendetti builds up the drama by first showing that the aliens try to access the armor but find themselves unable to wear the suit…
So the first issue ends with Aric and his friends still in captivity, but one of the cool things about this nominal cliffhanger is that it’s, again, just a nominal cliffhanger, because Aric is pretty damn convincing when he explains that he’s going to escape and HE will take his own weapons and use them. Of course, what Aric doesn’t know is that he’ll find himself in a whole new world and at a time when that will happen, but it’s still not so much a cliffhanger as a preview of what this hero WILL.
It was a great reboot of the Valiant comics universe, and it really helped a wider audience know just how talented Vendetti was (he would soon become one of DC’s main writers).
If you have any suggestions for comics for June (or other later months) 2012, 1997, 1972, and 1947, message me at [email protected]! Here’s the guide, though, to book cover dates so you can make suggestions for books that actually came out in the correct month. Generally speaking, the traditional time lag between cover date and release date of a comic for most of comic book history has been two months (sometimes it was three months, but not during the periods we discuss here). So the comics will have a cover date that is two months before the actual release date (so October for a book released in August). Obviously, it’s easier to tell when a book from 10 years ago came out, because there was internet coverage of the books at the time.
50 years ago, Ant-Man was trapped in a world he never created