June 19, 2009


The Future Of Valiant Comics

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Here’s what you need to know about the current status of Valiant Comics, and what may be coming in the future.

First of all, a little history. Valiant started back in the early 90’s by Voyager Communications. Voyager sold Valiant Comics to Acclaim (the video game company), in 1994. Valiant Comics stopped publication in 1996.

Acclaim relaunched many Valiant characters as Acclaim Comics later in 1996. These were published until 1999, though a few promotional books were published after that. Acclaim went bankrupt in 2004, and sold the Valiant intellectual property to a group that would eventually be known as Valiant Entertainment, Inc (VEI).

Though VEI owned the characters, with all copyrights associated with them, another company known only as Valiant Intellectual Properties (VIP) laid claim to the Trademarks for many of the Valiant characters. A lawsuit ensued, the details of which are not publicly known. The result is that VEI now has the rights to the Valiant Trademarks.

If you want to hear more about the history of Valiant comics, we recorded a two-part episode on Valiant Comics history. These were from the early days of the podcast when we were getting our bearings, and they are here: Valiant History Part 1, and Valiant History Part 2.

VEI currently has the rights to the all of the Valiant characters, except the original Gold Key properties, Magnus, Doctor Solar, and Turok. More on those in a moment.

In 2007, VEI released their first publication, a hardcover collection of Harbinger 0 through 7, with an 8-page backup story of all new material.

Over the next year and a half or so, they followed this up with a hardcover collection of the first issues of X-O Manowar and Archer & Armstrong, each of which contained an all new 8-page backup story.

Since VEI secured ownership of these characters, these three 8-page stories are the only new Valiant material we have seen.

One of the complications of all of this is that some of the mainstays of Valiant comics, Magnus, Solar, and Turok, were never owned by Valiant. These characters were licensed to Valiant by Western Publishing, the company that owns all of the old Gold Key properties.

Apparently, the rights to these characters have been licensed to Dark Horse Comics, according to an article on Newsarama. The meat of the article is a quote by Dark Horse President Mike Richardson:

We’ve been republishing collections of the Gold Key Magnus and Solar, Man of the Atom, books for a reason. When those are done, we’ll be coming out with new adventures.

Since this story ran, nothing has been said about this, either by VEI or by Dark Horse. This has opened up speculation by fans whether Dark Horse really will publish stories with these characters, or if VEI is trying to work out an arrangement to get the use of these characters.

There has been a lot of speculation about what this means to VEI, but nothing definitive has been stated. It is unclear if the rights to reprint the old Valiant titles featuring these characters belongs to VEI, or to Dark Horse.

If they do belong to Dark Horse, this complicates reprinting the old stories, since so many Valiant characters crossed over from one title to another.

There is also speculation that while Dark Horse seems to have the rights to Gold Key character of Doctor Solar, the character of Phil Seleski, the Solar that we know from Valiant comics, still belongs to VEI.

So where does that leave us?

Even if VEI does not have the rights to Magnus and Solar, there is much that can be done with all of the other properties they own, Harbinger, X-O Manowar, Shadowman, Rai, Eternal Warrior, Archer & Armstrong, Ninjak, Dr. Mirage, Quantum & Woody, etc.

The Chief Creative Officer of VEI has made public statements on the valiantfans message board that they are working to generate new stories and new content.

Additionally, the rights to develop Harbinger have been sold to Rat Entertainment, Brett Ratner’s production studio (currently at Paramount). Brett Ratner stated that he wanted to create a new superhero franchise from the ground up, and Harbinger fits that bill.

The flipside of this is any startup comic book production company is faced with difficult economic times right now. With unemployment ramping up, credit ramping down, people seem to have less disposable income. There may be less of an audience willing to spend money on trying new comics at this time.

Despite this, rumors do not stop that VEI is working to create something, and it seems from the bits and pieces of what they have publicly said that if they do launch new comics, they want to make sure that they are a high quality production.

I for one hope that we do see new comics from Valiant soon. I hope for the day when I see the characters I know and love in new comic book stories.

Though the details of when, or even if, that will happen are not publicly known, I am hoping for the best, and I am hoping to be amazed.

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