The Valiant Effort comes to a close with one of the company’s most notable titles, a book that had its origins in the Gold Key series Turok Son of Stone and made a chromium splash when its first issue hit because it was so over-ordered and so de-valued by speculators that it became a symbol of Ninties speculator excess, so much so that I appeared as a panelist on episode 50 of The Quarter Bin Podcast to talk about it (“the ultimate quarter bin book”). I don’t have my copy of #1 anymore–I had it signed and then sent it to Professor Alan, but I do have issues #2, 4, 5, and 6, so I had a chance to see if the book was worth its infamy.
I think that back in that QBP episode, the panel decided that the comic actually wasn’t too bad, and I have the same thing to say about these issues. They continue the story established in issue 1, but also keep up the adventure comics feel that the original Gold Key series (of which I had one issue at one point) had. I think it helps that Tim Truman is the writer and Rags Morales (Identity Crisis) is doing the art and it transcends Valiant’s issues with coloring and printing (and yes, I realize I’m beating this drum constantly, but it bugs the crap out of me). Turok’s still fighting dinosaurs but is also dealing with big game poachers who want to make a profit off of killing said dinosaurs, so there is a good moral quandary on top of straight-up action. In fact, it seems to be moving away from whatever direct ties it had to Unity and that’s a good idea because the further it gets from greater Valiant Universe story points and more into its own story, the better the book is.
Much like Solar, it’s a book that is solid and might be worth a browse or digital read-through if I can find it on the cheap (so I don’t have to have it taking up space in my closet), and I would recommend picking up an issue here or there, especially because of the way it flies in the face of Nineties haters.
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?
Post Script: Was it truly Valiant?
Well, I should render a total verdict on Nineties Valiant as a whole, shouldn’t I? Since the company collapsed in the comics crash (after a buyout by Acclaim that resulted in its ultimate demise), their licensed characters have been picked up by other companies such as Dynamite and Valiant has completely relaunched using the characters it outright owned. The new Valiant comics are worth checking out. I’ve dabbled here and there and have enjoyed their FBCD offerings, plus I have a couple of trades (one volume of Faith and the relaunch miniseries The Valiant, both of which were great). I’m rearranging my pull list at the moment and may dabble some more in the titles that I find interesting. So please check out new Valiant comics, especially if you like action-driven books that have a substantive story.
Okay, back to the classic Valiant stuff. This was a line of comics that got hyped to heaven by the likes of Wizard and were supposedly better written than what the flashy stuff Image was putting out. I can see that–everything seemed to have a lot of substance, whereas most of what I’ve looked at from Image was all sizzle and no steak (mmm … steak … I mean, with a few exceptions). But at the same time, that didn’t make them any less Nineties in their gimmicks and efforts to get speculators to buy multiple copies. Even without knowing the behind-the-scenes and industry stuff from Valiant’s heyday, you can clearly see an effort here to get people to buy not just the Valiant titles they liked, but all the comics. This worked in their favor in that it made for some interesting intersecting stories. It worked against them a lot because they seemed to be taking too many big shots at the title and I can’t tell if any of the books were going to be solid “foundation” books that fans could sit down and settle in with. Maybe Turok and Bloodshot?
Granted, I only had what I had and I may went into it a little prejudiced, like I knew that I wasn’t going to like all of it as much as I should have because while I am, by nature, a writer, subpar art in a comic book will always turn me off (unless I have a prior investment in the book, like New Titans books from #100 onward). The art wasn’t always stiff, but the whole look of Valiant made it hard to really engage with it.
In the end? It was worth it to see what I was missing when I was a teenager. I don’t regret not plunking down my $2.50 on this instead of the Image or Dark Horse books I’d buy or turning my attention to mostly DC Comics by the time I was out of high school; however, it was still a bit of a nostalgia trip back to another time where there was just so much out there and it all seemed flashy and important, even if it always wasn’t.