There is much information available on the interwebz around the history of Valiant and its various iterations. As part of my intent to familiarize you, dear reader, with some background on Valiant, I offer for your consideration my “cliff notes in a nutshell-sized dime store” version of that history.
The original Valiant was founded by former Marvel Editor in Chief, Jim Shooter. The company’s initial published comic book work was around licensed material for Nintendo and the WWF (oops, I mean the WWE).
It wasn’t long before they also began publishing comics around licensed characters from the Gold Key comic line that had been dormant for several decades, and soon expanded to include their own original creations. In short order, the company had created an interconnected universe where thorough continuity and compelling stories were the order of the day. This was a far cry from the primary published work of the later 80s/early 90s, where superstar artists were driving sales and often at the stories expense.
Word spread of Valiant’s product, and the initial low print runs of the early offerings made Valiant the darling of the back issue collectors market. Soon, many a Valiant title became highly sought after, and new offerings from the company saw increasing print runs to meet the increased consumer demand. To the average comic book “investor,” it was assumed that every Valiant title would rapidly increase in value. The speculator market was in full swing, and Valiant was reaping the benefits. Growing quickly to match the demand for their titles, Valiant looked to soon be challenging DC Comics for the #2 largest publisher spot.
Alas, booms in a market must ultimately come to a bust. With an average comic run printing in the hundreds of thousands, it soon became apparent that Junior’s college fund was not going to be taken care of by 50 copies of “The Death of Superman.” As the speculators fled and the market began to slide, Valiant’s investors sold the company to videogame maker, Acclaim. Acclaim ended the original comic’s line, and relaunched as Acclaim’s Valiant Heroes in 1997.
Acclaim’s Valiant Heroes
Envisioned as an opportunity to mine the comic’s properties for new games, former Marvel editor/writer Fabian Niceeza was brought in to help recreate the line. Using his industry connections, he brought in several cream of the crop writing talents to headline reimagined titles and introduce some new titles into the mix.
The initial titles were met with enthusiasm, and the initial video games (Turok on the N64, Shadow Man on N64 and Dreamcast) received strong reviews and sales. Unfortunately, the comic book market never recovered to its previous speculative heights, and Acclaim suffered losses from its other video game franchises (BMX XXX, anyone?). It wasn’t long before the monthly production of comics was ceased in a cost cutting measure, and despite various attempts to begin publishing again, the line was mothballed. Acclaim eventually went bankrupt before closing their doors completely, and their properties went up for auction in 2005.
Through the different iterations of Valiant and the years in limbo, the one thing that stayed the same was the hardcore fan base.
A small but avid group of enthusiasts and collectors looking to round out their collections persisted despite the lack of new material.
It was from that fan-base that Dinesh Shamdasani and Jason Kothari, having gotten wind of the upcoming auction of Acclaim’s assets, raised financing and threw their hat in the ring. And, surprisingly, they won. The new Valiant Entertainment was born. The war, however, for the rights to these characters was just getting started, and it would be several painstaking years before they would be able to announce the return of Valiant!
I could go into greater detail about the new iteration of Valiant, but honestly, other have already done it better than I could. I’m including a couple of links to articles written about the new Valiant Entertainment, below. They do a fantastic job in detailing information I glossed over in my brief explanations above, and are definitely worth the read:
Valiant Comics: Two Students Did Not Want to See Their Favorite Comic Book Brand Die. So They Bought the Company (Written write before the relaunch started in 2012)
Valiant Entertainment Is Superhero Comics’ Strangest Success Story (written at the end of 2014)
Check back here is a couple weeks, as I dig a bit deeper into what makes the Valiant line of comics so amazing!