The Valiant Universe is a thrilling alternative to the DC-Marvel duopoly. While these two titans of the comic book world are busy copyrighting the word superhero and milking endless reboots in the cinemas, Valiant have quietly got on with the task of entertaining fans with well-fleshed out characters.
If you are growing tired of the convoluted and bloated backstories of the Marvel and DC comics, give the Valiant universe a try. Here are 5 characters from this independent publisher who you are sure to love.
A former soldier is captured by the secretive Project Rising Spirit organization, whose influence extends throughout the Valiant universe. This shadowy group inject him with nanotechnology and false memories to create the ultimate fighting machine – Bloodshot. After escaping from his new masters, Bloodshot goes on a Jason Bourne-esque mission to find out the truth about his past and discover a more meaningful purpose than killing.
Bloodshot has been one of Valiant’s best-loved characters for over 25 years, and rumour has it that Vin Diesel is pencilled in to play him in an upcoming film adaptation. There is even a Bloodshot slot machine game available at most online casinos, and we can see this character boosting the popularity of the overall Valiant universe in the years to come.
Quantum & Woody (& The Goat)
This loveable double act are surely the most off-beat comic book characters in any universe, and they are known as the world’s worst superhero team for good reason. Quantum and Woody are two brothers who have completely different personalities, one a straight-laced and responsible ex-soldier, the other a total jerk who loves crude humour.
The adopted brothers accidentally attain superpowers in a laboratory explosion while investigating the death of their father. Bound together by the accident via a pair of metal bracelets, their superpowers come with a strict condition: the brothers must touch them together every 24 hours or disappear into nothingness. They also get a mysterious goat as a companion.
Quantum & Woody is huge fun, and we can easily imagine a TV series would be a big success, and lo and behold, one is being planned.
This New Orleans-based character debuted in 1992, and within a few months, the title was already outselling the biggest names in the Marvel and DC stables. What makes Shadowman so damn cool is his link to the occult, his ability to move between the worlds of the living and the dead, and his voodoo powers which he uses to defend his city from the necromancer Master Darque.
In the nineties and early 2000’s, Shadowman spawned a series of video games released on the Playstation platform, to critical acclaim and commercial success. The character is now so embedded in real-life New Orleans culture that mayor Sidney Barthelemy has declared January 17th to be Shadowman day.
What sets Valiant apart from other comic universes is how real-life history is so tightly meshed with the fictional world. X-O Manowar is a perfect example of this; as Aric of Dacia, this ancient Visigoth was a slave of the Romans until getting kidnapped by the alien race The Vine and put to work in their galactic gardens.
Aric escapes from the clutches of The Vine and steals their Shanhara armour and returns to present-day Earth as the X-O Manowar, a highly influential player in the Valiant universe. The Vine just won’t stop coming after him and his stolen armour, though, and have tried a number of times to get it back, including mobilizing the British secret service to capture and kill him.
Another way that Valiant sets itself apart from its bigger rivals is to introduce superheroes in different shapes and sizes. With Faith Herbert, we get a plus-sized young lady with a penchant for Doctor Who and the ability to fly. But don’t mistake Faith as a simple token gesture to satisfy the diversity lobby. This is a well-rounded character with a positive personality that you can’t help liking.
Ever since the Valiant reboot of 2012, Faith has grown to become one of the most popular comic book characters around. With Hollywood and Netflix on the lookout for stories with strong female characters, surely a Faith feature film or series will be on the cards soon?