Written by: Ryan McLelland

When my phone starts blowing up like crazy I usually start thinking, “Okay who died?” because the last time I got fifty calls and texts at once it was when Bill Paxton died. So if the phone is blowing up like crazy and it isn’t someone who died I know it is some geek event. It was a pretty major announcement that pretty much shook me to the core. Valiant Comics has been sold to Chinese investors DMG run by CEO Dan Mintz – who was already a stockholder in Valiant. The move not only sees father and son investment team Peter and Gavin Cuneo sell and step down but the man who bought back the Valiant characters, went through countless legal battles, and, beyond all odds, relaunched Valiant Comics to massive acclaim (pun intended) – Dinesh Shamdasani.  It seems that Shamdasani is out too.

Some people may know of Valiant’s comics. Some may not. Some may know who I am but most will go, “Just the hell are you !?!?!!?” I was a Valiant fan who really found himself to be at the right place at the right time. I started reading Valiant right when they released  the Super Mario Bros comic book and continued on with their superhero line for some time. The gimmicks they came up with were great (like zero issues, coupons you could mail in for books, free books, CHROMIUM COVERS!) but it was the great storylines, with actual impacts on those books, that really made fans out of readers. Reading Valiant books in the early 1990’s was a special time for most Valiant fans but events happened behind the scenes that cause everything to go crashing down.

A number of years later I started writing for Newsarama. I had just finished a rather large article on Malibu’s Ultraverse imprint when my editor Matt Brady said to me, “Why don’t you do one of those on Valiant?” I didn’t give it a second thought and immediately started reading old books, doing lots of research, and interviewing comic legends I had grown up reading. The article came out at a wonderful time because Valiant really hadn’t become cool again and no one had yet to look back on those books with nostalgia (except for those hardcore fans). But I enjoyed getting Valiant back out there once again and I would continue to cover Valiant Comics in my columns at Newsarama for many years, hoping to keep the books in the memories of the collective comic public.

Though all of my articles from my Newsarama days are gone the Valiant article still exists. You can read it right here on 2G1: http://2guys1review.com/2017/02/08/rise-fall-resurrection-valiant-comics/

I was so excited when Dinesh Shamdasani and Jason Kothari were able to snag the rights to the Valiant characters from auction just a few years later. There were trademark issues with another company that kept new Valiant books off the shelves for years as the battle had to drag on through the court system.  The trademark issues were finally overcome and work began on bringing the Valiant characters back to the comic world.  Valiant launched the new books in 2012 and I personally was astounded at how amazing the final product was. I never dreamed I’d see a new Valiant Comic again.

Now I was holding a new Valiant Comic in my hand, X-O Manowar #1, and it was one of the best comics I had read in years. I covered the company as much as I could before I took my writing sabbatical and really was happy that the Valiant guys had come out of the gate swinging. The true honor for me was when I got a call and was asked, “Hey, do you want to write an introduction to the X-O Manowar TPB?” That’s like asking if I want to eat sushi off naked Jennifer Lawrence. No brainer. “What you are holding in your hands is a true piece of history,” I wrote in that intro. “And sometimes history is worth waiting for.” Great words that I meant then and still mean now.

There doesn’t seem to be much about the change over coming out except being revealed at Bleeding Cool that the trio were made to “step down.”  I guess it wasn’t much of a, “Hey we had a good run.  Let’s bail!” Bailing now is weird as the comics are selling better than ever, the talent on the books is truly exemplary, and all of the TV/film deals Valiant had gotten off the ground were finally starting to near production phases. Now I’m sure the last thing Mintz is doing is trying to stop the film and TV projects. He wants these movies and television show.  It is his quote in the press release that frightened me a bit.

“This is about taking it to the next level,” said Mintz to THR. “I am not looking on expanding from a publishing standpoint but from a motion picture standpoint.”

This one sentence is a storyteller and what it tells me is that these guys don’t give a crap about the Valiant Comics. Just the properties. This…this has all happened before. If you didn’t read my article above (here you can click here to still go totally read it) you know that Acclaim eventually bought out Valiant Comics after the original Valiant money men got jumpy. Editor in Chief Jim Shooter, who spearheaded the early superhero books, was ousted. Valiant went on to some massive success without Shooter but there was a definite downturn in quality from the later books. Acclaim? They made video games and now they have own characters they can totally make into video games! That strategy worked as the first Turok game was a huge seller for the Nintendo 64. But as it all went onward the games, like the comics, just lacked what made them special in the first place.

I’m worried that it is more of the same with DMG. Make a power move and force out the guys who relaunched Valiant to all this success, having all of these characters at your disposal, and crank out a whole ton of crap that you don’t care about as long as you are making money. While Acclaim started pumping out those video games they also gave big bucks to big names to come write their new relaunched Valiant books. What happened? The creators jumped ship after a few issues. The quality decreased once again. Almost the whole line was cancelled within 18 months.  This was also really at a time where comic collecting was on the downturn after the massive successes of the nineties. In the end Acclaim took a massively huge comic company and reduced it to nothing in just a matter of years.

Mintz? He doesn’t sound like he wants more X-O Manowar comics, does he? He just want a X-O movie! So fuck all those fans who went out to support these books. Fuck the guys like Robert Venditti and Matt Kindt who have worked their asses of to make X-O Manowar one of the best modern comic reads.  Because here comes….ZAC EFRON AS ARIC!

Does Mintz say he’s going to stop publishing the comic books? No. Does Mintz say he’s going to focus on movies. Yes. Is he right to do so? Well the money from a Bloodshot film will probably bring in more than selling a full year of Bloodshot comics would. But you don’t mess with the fans here. Fans can be fickle but Valiant fans are strong. They love the books and they returned to the 2012 relaunch because it was done so well. If it sucked? I’m sure they would have bashed it (I probably would have to). But for all the movies that Warners and Disney are making, they are not going to stop selling those comic books. They know that they bring in the money and keep the fans happy.  There’s a synergy.  I really hope DMG doesn’t just throw some crappy creative teams onto books just to print out some dreck for a movie tie-in.

Is this once again the end for Valiant? I don’t think there’s a definitive answer but an early guess could put it as high as 50%. Writer and philosopher George Santayana once famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Here we are again with Valiant. Except it isn’t Acclaim at the door, it is DMG. I hope DMG looks back on the failures of the company they just pulled together for themselves.  I’d really hate to see these characters that I love fade into oblivion once again.  But in the world of tentpole franchise films you never know where you will have your next success….or failure.

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