Tag Archives: harbinger

Valiant’s Senior Editor Heather Antos talks with us about X-O Manowar, Penguins and Covid Delays

X-O Manowar #2

We recently got a chance to chat with one of Valiant‘s Senior Editors Heather Antos about the upcoming X-O Manowar #2 and how COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in the publisher’s planned timeline.

Graphic Policy: To get the COVID shaped elephant out of the way, obviously, you were never planning on having months between the first and second issues of X-O Manowar. Did you need to adjust the second issue prior to its new release date, or had it already been printed?

Heather Antos: You know, it’s funny. We had just wrapped interiors for X-O #2 when the pandemic hit. So though the issue hadn’t gone to print at the time, it could have! Since we had the time, the creative team did have another pass at dialogue, etc, for any other tweaks, but mainly our focus has been on the rest of the story.

GP: Valiant has been on a relatively slower schedule since publishing has resumed; what kind of challenges and opportunities has that provided you from an editorial perspective with X-O?

HA:
 I think the biggest challenge has been not being able to release all of the amazing titles that we had originally planned for 2020. But that means that 2021 is going to be off to an A+ start, you know? If anything this has given us amazing lead time for development and creative on projects that just don’t normally get half a year in advance on normal comics schedules.

GP: I’ve really enjoyed the issue(s) I’ve read so far, especially the new dynamic between Aric and Shanhara; can you tell us more about how Shanhara’s acting as Aric’s guide to a modern world we haven’t seen him experience before?    

HA: What I think really sets X-O Manowar apart from his comic book hero comparison of Conan in Iron Man’s suit is the fact that X-O Manowar isn’t just Aric of Dacia — it’s Aric of Dacia partnered with Shanhara — an ancient sentient alien. So there’s been so much to explore there in terms of their relationship with one another and the world in which they now reside. One of the most fun things is exploring how Shanhara has taken to the modern world — in part because she can quite literally access the internet — and how Aric wants nothing to do with it. 

GP: Based entirely on the two issues I’ve read so far, Aric’s much more Earthbound with this volume. Was there a conscious decision to move Aric away from the more space-oriented stories we’ve seen him in previously and explore how his actions impact modern people?

HA: Absolutely — not there’s anything wrong with a spacebound Aric! We’ve yet to see a series, though, in modern Valiant with Aric’s ongoing Earthbound story — both revolving around how he and Shanhara are dealing with their present day situtation, but also how the present day is dealing with them! 

GP: With Aric being a “barbarian” he’s able to offer a unique perspective on our civilization, as we’ve seen with his attitude to food and his confrontation with the police; will that be a theme running in the series going forward? 

HA: Most definitely — Aric confronts a lot of the daily minutae by simply…barrelling right past it. He doesn’t have time for modern day “politics” when he sees someone in need…even when said bureaucratic entanglements might make things worse for him in the long run. 

GP: Your love of penguins isn’t a secret… have you ever tried to get one or two into the comics? Penguin variant covers, maybe?

HA: Penguins have waddled their way into comics on my behalf once or twice, this is known to be true. If one were to flip back to last year’s Livewire #12, they might even find the first penguin cameo an artist dedicated to yours truly, haha! Will there be more in Valiant’s future? Only one way for you readers to find out…

GP: I tend to always have music when reading comics, which got me thinking; if you had to recommend a soundtrack to the series, what would it be?

HA: Fun fact! We actually have an OFFICIAL soundtrack to the series. You can find it here featuring tracks from Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, ZZ Top, and more!

GP: When you’re overseeing multiple titles, how tempted are you to have the characters featured in one series appear in another?

HA: I would say it’s not an outright temptation right from the get-go — and I certainly am not going to force any characters into another writer’s book unnecessarily. I love crossover issues and scenes and worldbuilding opportunities they provide — but it’s SUPER important that these things happen organically and feel necessary to the story.

GP: Are you able to give us any teasers around Shadowman…? 

HA: Teasers like how it’s one of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on in my entire career? Like how Cullen Bunn and Jon Davis-Hunt, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles are a horror comic’s dream team? Or how about how I CANNOT wait to be able to talk more? I don’t mean to be too in the shadows and I wish I could say more, but maybe in few weeks I’ll be able to bring more information to light…

GP: So… I hear you maaaay be working on a project that may, or may not have something to do with Psiots… is there anything you can share about that?

HA: Not unless you have psionic abilities and can read my mind! A little blue harbinger bird told me that The Hollywood Reporter might have something to say about it next week though….

GP: Well that’s certainly something to look forward to! Thanks for your time!

X-O Manowar #2 will be released November 25th.

Valiant Announces a Virtual NYCC Metaverse Panel

Valiant logo

The future of Valiant Entertainment will be revealed at New York Comic Con’s Metaverse.

Before Paramount’s Harbinger movie hits the big screen next year, the “Valiant Heads to Hollywood” virtual panel will be a must-watch event for comic fans as it explores all that the critically-acclaimed publisher has to offer! The panel will delve into a currently classified new series and its vivid new take on a classic Valiant team. Plus: many other secrets and fresh artwork will be revealed.

Moderated by Tiffany of YouTube’s ComicPOP, she’ll be joined by the co-writers of the top-secret new series, plus NINJAK writer Jeff ParkerX-O MANOWAR writer Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum, and Senior Editors Lysa Hawkins and Heather Antos for a can’t-miss discussion on Valiant’s upcoming comics and more.

ReedPOP’s virtual event will take place from October 8th-11th. Keep an eye on New York Comic Con’s YouTube channel for Valiant’s panel. See below for the panel’s complete description.

Valiant Heads to Hollywood

Before Paramount’s HARBINGER movie hits the big screen in 2021, learn all about Valiant Entertainment’s upcoming comic [CLASSIFIED] and witness this bold new take on the classic franchise. Plus, exclusive reveals from NINJAK, BLOODSHOT, X-O MANOWAR, RAI, and more!

Moderated by Tiffany of YouTube’s ComicPOP, join writers [CLASSIFIED], [CLASSIFIED], Jeff Parker, Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum, and Senior Editors Heather Antos and Lysa Hawkins for an exclusive look at the future of the Valiant Universe and its must-read new comics.

Valiant Announces Changes to their Structure

Valiant logo

Valiant has announced that it is restructuring its New York and Los Angeles offices to bring their publishing, tv, and film projects closer together.

The New York offices are moving to a new location that is currently under construction and will open in Fall 2020. The company has been working remotely since Mid-March due to COVID-19. Some rumors have swirled around the closing of their current NY office.

In Los Angeles, Valiant has hired comic industry veteran David Wohl as a Senior Editor.

The company has revealed some recent plans including the return of X-O Manowar in November with long-awaited X-O Manowar #2.

In March, the publisher announced a remastered 1999 Shadowman game from Nightdive Studios. They are also working with Blowfish Studios to develop new video games featuring characters from the Valiant universe.

This is on top of the release of Bloodshot, the film released by Sony in theaters and soon after on demand due to the pandemic, the continued work on Harbinger which is still slated to be released in 2021, and Faith: Taking Flight a young adult novel published by an imprint of HarperCollins.

The Thin Line Between Good And Evil: Toyo Harada

When you look at the typical comic book bad guy, there is often a clear cut case of black and white. Hero and villain. Good verses evil. This is never clearer when it comes to the Joker, or Sabretooth (although that has been known to be more in flux over the last half decade or so).  However with some antagonists it can be a bit murkier, sometimes a villain’s motivations are almost understandable when you take a moment to remove yourself from the hero’s narrative. When you look at the antagonist’s motivation removed from the protagonist’s story you can begin to see that when experienced from a different angle, these characters wouldn’t be seen as villains.

The Thin Line Between Good And Evil aims to take a look at the characters traditionally portrayed as villains within the world of nerd culture, primarily comics, and explore if it were their story we were reading, whether the villain would instead be seen as a hero.

Toyo Harada

This month, in honour of Valiant’s Hero Of The Week event, we’re taking a look at Toyo Harada.

At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that Toyo Harada is just your standard evil overlord/CEO, but that would be doing a huge disservice to the character. Instead, it’d be slight more accurate to suggest he’s a blend of Professor Xavier and Magneto, but only in broad strokes.

Harada is a rare psiot born with incredible telepathic and telekinetic powers; within the Valiant Universe, most psiots are dormant until they’re activated – usually by an incredibly painful and risky procedure – but very few, often the most powerful, are born with their abilities activated. Harada’s abilities were activated by the nucleor weapon dropped on Hiroshima, and this understandably shaped a lot of the man he would become (explored in detail during The Life And Death Of Toyo Harada, though it is touched upon in Harbinger and Imperium briefly).

Toyo Harada is arguably one of Valiant Entertainment’s more complex characters. He is a Psiot using his incredible telekinetic and telepathic powers in order to shape the world into a better place for everyone by using his company’s immense wealth for philanthropic efforts. Harada’s methods haven’t always been perfectly angelic, and he exemplifies the phrase “the end justifies the means.” But his heart has always been in the right place.. his end goal is to end war, to which he conquered a small country… and then tried to turn it into a Utopian free state (in Imperium).

Toyo Harada

The more you learn about Toyo Harada, the more you realize that he’s far from an evil man. He spent decades trying to influence political policy, gradually and gently nudging the world in the direction of a Utopian future while gathering and training the smartest minds and craftspeople of their generation to further the technologies that humanity will come to rely on.

Only for some ungrateful little drug addict that wants to start to tear down everything you’ve worked for (which you can read all about in Harbinger). Now it wasn’t all Peter Stanchek’s fault; circumstances didn’t quite favour Harada. He’d spread himself too thin, and eventually the final straw landed upon his back and things started to fall apart, but one has to wonder whether things would have been different if not for Stancheck. Whether Harada could have continued to guide the world in the shadows rather than forcibly showing governments how to create a self sustaining society.

But this column isn’t about recapping the man’s history; there’s a great resource here if that’s all you want to know, or you can check out the links below with the first volume of Harbinger, which kicks the saga off.

Instead, we’re here to look at why Toyo Harada is considered a villain, and I genuinely think it’s because of how he’s been framed in stories. When reading Harbinger, you’re following the story of Peter Stanchek and the Renegades. In X-O Manowar and Unity you’re naturally rooting for X-O because of Harada’s desire to acquire the armour whilst also preventing a cataclysmic confrontation.

Toyo Harada

If it wasn’t for that, and his penchant for making some questionable decisions in pursuit of (what he believes to be) the greater good, then I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone in viewing Toyo Harada as Valiant’s greatest hero. He’s doing what he feels he needs to do to save the world, despite our best efforts to the contrary. He’s been working for decades to make the world a better place, and in the grander scope of things he forms the question: can we save ourselves, even if we wanted to?

That’s what this really comes down to; as a global society, are we really capable of lifting the most unfortunate and desperate members up and coming together to save ourselves? Toyo Harada clearly doesn’t think so, and I’m inclined to agree with him. Toyo Harada is the villain we need to save our world.

And he’ll do it, by any means necessary.


Read the start of Toyo Harada’s story here:

Purchase: Amazon – Kindle – comiXology – TFAWBookshop

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Underrated: Imperium

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: the comic book Imperium


When Valiant Entertainment relaunched in 2012, one of the four books that the publisher started with was Harbinger. Arguably one of Valiant’s signature books, the original series launched in the 90’s with the publisher’s first incarnation. I have never read the 90’s series in full, but have dabbled in an issue here or there (specifically the two that contained chapters of the multi-book crossover Unity). I have, however, read the entirety of the modern Harbinger run, and own a smattering of individual comics and the three deluxe hardcovers containing the story; Harbinger Deluxe Edition One, Harbinger  Deluxe Edition  Two and Harbinger Wars 
Deluxe Edition. Until very recently, I had not read Imperium. While I have had access to the review copies for years, I had long decided that I would rather read the story in print form so I was waiting to pick up the deluxe hard cover edition of Imperium from my LCS. A couple weeks ago, I finally ordered it.

It cost me $65 before taxes and it was worth every penny.

There are easy comparisons to make between the Harbinger story and that of the X-Men, between Toyo Harada and Magneto; an incredibly powerful man who wants peace at any cost. The truth is when I was reading the book there are obvious similarities to the X-Books. Especially now that the X-Men have their own nation state, which is where Imperium finds Toyo Harada and his Foundation.

Joshua Dysart pulls the sixteen issue story in from various places in the Valiant universe, touching upon characters that will be familiar if you have read the previous Harbinger run that I spoke about (again) last week. If you haven’t read those books it shouldn’t be a big deal – the story is told in a way that it can be read alone, but you’ll miss out on some context here and there (and a great build up) if you skip what came before.

Watching Harada build his nation state free of scarcity while fighting the countries that are trying to stop him over the course of sixteen issues is fascinating. We watch him take some extraordinary measures to ensure that he is left alone, and we wonder whether the man is truly as philanthropic and good as his ideal seems or is he as self serving as he sometimes appears?

Although the book is told from Harada’s perspective Dysart never quite leaves you confident that you should be rooting exclusively for him. Should he be stopped? Or does his means justify the ends?

What makes this such a great story is that Dysart has balanced the antagonists so well that nobody seems to be explicitly evil aside from a certain corporation out exclusively for profit, which illustrates the nobility behind Harada’s ideal while underscoring the capitalist nature of our society. There are so many different aspects to this story; the concept of artificial intelligence becoming sentient, does anybody ever truly have free will, the balance of sacrifice for progression of the greater good. What devils do you have to make a deal with?

When it comes to everybody else in this book you have to wonder whether you should root for anyone.

Joshua Dysart’s writing will educate you, encouraging you to think and develop yourself all while delivering one of the greatest stories in comics. That sentence was as true for Harbinger as it is for Imperium. He has a unique ability to distill a greater political and ideological idea down into a story that will never overwhelm a reader but also leaves you thinking about the nature of the politics involved long after the cover has been closed.

Whether this story is one told from the villain’s perspective as he tries to achieve his goals having convinced his followers they are doing the right thing or if it is story about a hero who faces insurmountable odds as he tries to make the world a better place will differ on how you read the book.

And that, for me, makes it an utter masterpiece.

This series is the subject of today’s Underrated because I had long heard how brilliant the story was from others who have read the book so I ended up reading the full run in almost a single sitting. And I realized that I seldom hear people talk about Valiant’s Harbinger comics or Toyo Harada. I hope that changes. Especially after the last week with the publisher focusing on the character this week.

Valiant Hero Of The Week: Toyo Harada

Every Monday for the next few weeks, Valiant Entertainment is running a poll on Twitter to provide fans with some escapism while new comics are in short supply. The poll allows Valiant fans the opportunity to select the “Hero Of The Week” from four choices. That week’s hero will then be the focus of free pdfs featuring the character, videos from Valiant staff, giveaways, and more. This week, the poll featured Toyo Harada, Father, Eidolon and Master Darque.

Valiant Hero of the Week

This week’s winner was…

Toyo Harada

Toyo Harada

Who is he? One of the most complicated and interesting characters in comics, this is a man who has lived through utter horror and who just happens to be one of the most powerful people in the world. Toyo Harada is the kind of character that lives in the moral grey area; more often than not, I’ve found myself actually agreeing with and rooting for him, because his entire raison d’etre is to secure peace and improve the lives of people at any cost. Initially, he’s subtle and manipulates world events behind the scenes… but eventually Toyo Harada wages war on the world. He’s introduced in Harbinger, and so a lot of the stories that you’ve seen recommended in Peter Stanchek‘s spotlight you could expect to see for Toyo Harada.

What should you read?

Here’s the thing to be aware of here; Joshua Dysart’s epic run with the character starts in volume one of Harbinger. If you jump into the story later on, it will be tough to enjoy it and/or get. So when I’m recommending the first book below, I’m actually encouraging you to read the entire story that spreads across Imperium and The Life And Death Of Toyo Harada. You can read those two series independently, but this is a story designed to be read in publication order. That said, I’ll still include the opening trade to Imperium and the Life And Death trade below.

Harbinger: Omega Rising

A better future. Or no future at all.

Harbinger: Omega Rising

Super-powered teenager Peter Stanchek is on a dangerous path. Skipping across the country in a desperate attempt to stay one step ahead of the authorities, Peter is quickly realizing that he’s a psionically-charged “harbinger” with the potential to reshape the course of human history. But Peter’s plight has not gone unnoticed. Respected philanthropist and fellow harbinger Toyo Harada is about to offer Peter the chance at the things for which the boy has always longed — family, inner peace, self-control — and induct him into the sprawling, secret network of conspiracy and subversion known as the Harbinger Foundation. Now Peter begins his long road towards a destiny that will shake the very foundations of the Valiant Universe. His first lesson? All power comes with a price.


This volume kicks off an epic tale by Joshua Dysart that spans Harbinger and Imperium, and because I devoured the first twenty issues in two days I don’t really remember exactly what happened in the first volume, so I took the above text directly from Valiant’s website.

Purchase: Amazon – Kindle – comiXology – TFAWBookshop

Imperium: Collecting Monsters

A psychic dictator, an inhuman robot, a mad scientist, a murderous alien, and a superpowered terrorist are about to try and take over the world…and you’re going to be rooting for them every step of the way!

Imperium: Collecting Monsters

Toyo Harada is the most dangerous human being on the planet. Imbued with incredible powers of the mind, he has spent his life guiding humanity from the shadows. But today he is a wanted man. His powers are public knowledge, his allies have turned to enemies, and he is hunted by every government on the planet. Instead of surrendering, Harada has one last unthinkable gambit to play: to achieve more, faster, and with less, he will build a coalition of the powerful, the unscrupulous, and the insane. No longer content to demand a better future, he will recruit a violent legion from the darkest corners of the Earth to fight for it. The battle for utopia begins now! 


This is honestly one of my favourite Valiant stories. It tells the tale of Toyo Harada’s attempt to create a paradise for those willing to work. Yes, he invaded a country to do so, but his goal is to create a world without hunger and sickness. By any means necessary.

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXologyTFAWBookshop

The Life And Death Of Toyo Harada

In 1945, the bombing of Hiroshima awakened an immense and terrifying power inside young Toyo Harada, a power that he could one day use to build a better world.

With the existence of superpowered psiots revealed to the world and his Harbinger Foundation left in ruins, Harada has been run to ground, and the world’s most powerful man is about to become its most dangerous…

Eisner Award-nominated writer Joshua Dysart (HARBINGER) returns to the Valiant Universe alongside CAFU (RAI) and a lineup of all-star Valiant artists for a sweeping, continent-spanning chronicle of Toyo Harada’s last gambit to remake Earth in his own utopian image…or sacrifice everything in the process.


The culmination of Joshua Dysart’s run with the character, this is a great story if you haven’t read the other book, but it’s beyond compare if you have.

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXologyTFAWBookshop


It’s worth noting that you can get Deluxe Editions of many of these stories that collect what amounts to three trades in a hardcover. They are comparatively better valued, but present a higher initial cost (based on standard retail pricing not including sales and discounts). They’re my personal preference.


This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Valiant Villain Of The Week: Toyo Harada, Master Darque, Eidolon, and Father.

Valiant Hero of the Week

Every Monday for the next few weeks, Valiant Entertainment is running a poll on their Twitter feed to provide fans with some escapism while new comics are in short supply. The poll allows Valiant fans the opportunity to select the Hero Of The Week from four choices – this week, the poll features Toyo Harada, Master Darque, Eidolon and Father. The week’s hero villain will then be the focus of free pdfs featuring the character, videos from Valiant staff, giveaways, and more.

At Graphic Policy, we’re going to be running a spotlight on the winning character all week through various features depending on the character, but at the very least you’ll see our favorite covers and stories.

But Valiant has a lot of great characters, and it’d be a shame to not let you know which stories to read to get to know some of them a little more in case they don’t end up winning the fan vote. This week’s characters are a prime example of this, and the exact reason that we wanted to shine a little light on all four ahead of the week.

Below you’ll find a brief snapshot of the character and a trade paperback or two to check out. For fun, I’ll also note who I think is most likely to win (bear in mind this is being written on Sunday).

Toyo Harada

Who is he? One of the most complicated and interesting characters in comics, this is a man who has lived through utter horror and who just happens to be one of the most powerful people in the world. Toyo Harada is the kind of character that lives in the moral grey area; more often than not, I’ve found myself actually agreeing with and rooting for him, because his entire raison d’etre is to secure peace and improve the lives of people at any cost. Initially, he’s subtle and manipulates world events behind the scenes… but eventually Toyo Harada wages war on the world. He’s introduced in Harbinger, and so a lot of the stories that you’ve seen recommended in Peter Stanchek‘s spotlight you could expect to see for Toyo Harada.

I’m hoping against hope that the fans vote for Toyo today, because I would love to explore his characterization a lot more.

What should you read?

Harbinger: Omega Rising

A better future. Or no future at all.

Super-powered teenager Peter Stanchek is on a dangerous path. Skipping across the country in a desperate attempt to stay one step ahead of the authorities, Peter is quickly realizing that he’s a psionically-charged “harbinger” with the potential to reshape the course of human history. But Peter’s plight has not gone unnoticed. Respected philanthropist and fellow harbinger Toyo Harada is about to offer Peter the chance at the things for which the boy has always longed — family, inner peace, self-control — and induct him into the sprawling, secret network of conspiracy and subversion known as the Harbinger Foundation. Now Peter begins his long road towards a destiny that will shake the very foundations of the Valiant Universe. His first lesson? All power comes with a price.


This volume kicks off an epic tale by Joshua Dysart that spans Harbinger and Imperium, and because I devoured the first twenty issues in two days I don’t really remember exactly what happened in the first volume, so I took the above text directly from Valiant’s website.

Purchase: Amazon – Kindle – comiXology – TFAWBookshop

Master Darque

Who is he? Nicodemo Darque is the Valiant Universe’s most powerful necromancer. Initially introduced in the Shadowman series, he’s also popped up in Ninjak and as the antagonist in Book Of Death. Unlike toyo Harada, there isn’t much to Master Darque beyond his lust for power,; there’s not really an angle that allows you to root for him, but he does make for a high level threat for the heroes of Valiant to come up against. Arguably one of the more traditional villains in Valiant’s line up, Darque always elevates the stories he’s in.

What should you read?

Shadowman: Darque Reckoning

The true price of becoming Shadowman is always paid in blood…and Master Darque intends to collect…

Jack Boniface has just been to Hell and back. After surviving the horrors of the Deadside, Jack is taking his new abilities to the limit and discovering more about the legacy of the Shadowman with each passing night. But what if he wasn’t the only thing that managed to escape back to Earth? Something dark has arrived in New Orleans, leaving death and madness in its black wake. What’s more, the city’s deadliest cartel assassin is after Jack, and he refuses to die – literally…


I was going to suggest another book that has already been recommended here, but seeing as how I’m hoping you’ve read Book Of Death by now, why not look back to one of Darque’s first appearances?

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXologyTFAWBookshop

Eidolon

Who is she? Anything that I say about the character here will only be a spoiler for the book recommended below, so I’ll be intentionally vague here; the newest character on the list, Eidolon’s story isn’t a happy one. Does she have ties to Bloodshot? Well, obviously. Because she’s in a Bloodshot comic…

What should you read?

Bloodshot Book One

Once, he was the perfect living weapon, created to follow orders. Now, Bloodshot works alone, using his lethal skills to protect those who cannot protect themselves. But a mysterious and powerful organization is watching, and they’re not about to let something as dangerous as Bloodshot remain free…


There’s really only two options for folks to read about Eidolon, and the other is the sequel to this one. Bloodshot Book One is a lot of fun, and features some pretty intense action sequences throughout the book. The sequel is where we’re really introduced to Eidolon in detail, but this is where you’ll want to start.

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXologyBookshop

Father

Who is he? The artificial intelligence responsible for keeping New Japan afloat, Father is also the creator of Rai. Guess what book you’ll want to read?

What should you read?

Rai: Welcome To New Japan

The year is 4001 A.D. – led by the artificial intelligence called “Father,” the island nation of Japan has expanded out of the Pacific and into geosynchronous orbit with the ravaged Earth below. With billions to feed and protect, it has fallen to one solitary guardian to enforce the law of Father’s empire – the mysterious folk hero known as Rai. They say he can appear out of nowhere. They say he is a spirit…the ghost of Japan. But when the first murder in a thousand years threatens to topple Father’s benevolent reign, Rai will be forced to confront the true face of a nation transformed…and his own long-lost humanity…


Father is largely a disembodied voice throughout this series, and rather obviously isn’t the main focal point of the book, but seeing as how this story eventually leads into one of my favourite Valiant runs (Dan Abnett on Rai from 2019), and also kicks off a pretty damn phenomenal story in its own right, then I’ll take any chance I can to recommend this series.

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXologyTFAW


This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Retro Review: The Unity Saga

This week Valiant Entertainment have been focusing on the superhero team Unity as their Hero Of The Week, an initiative the company are undertaking to give readers and Valiant fans something to look forward to while the comic industry is on pause.

Valiant Entertainment is the company launched by a group of folks who purchased the first Valiant’s original character rights (Solar, Magnus and Turok were licensed characters used by the original iteration of the company, and weren’t included in the sale which is why you don’t see them in the modern books). The two eras of comics often differentiated by VH1 for the original publisher and VEI for the modern company (there is a VH2, but that’s not relevant right now). Given VEI’s tendency to reuse the names of VH1’s heroes, teams and comics in ways that pay homage to the original, or just as a tip of the hat to fans familiar with the VH1 era, I thought it would be interesting look back at the VH1 version of Unity.

Unity was an eighteen chapter crossover that took place from August – September of 1992 across seven different series published by Valiant Comics, with each of the publisher’s ongoing series dedicating two issues to the crossover. X-O ManowarSolar, Man Of The Atom; Shadowman; Rai; Magnus, Robot Fighter; Eternal Warrior; Archer and Armstrong; as well as prelude and epilogue under the Unity name each had a blue banner across the top of the cover, with artwork that formed two interconnecting images of eight comics. Both Eternal Warrior and Archer and Armstrong were launched during the crossover, with both the first and second issues having the blue banner.

The cover to first part of the story as it appeared in the individual series form a giant interconnected image.

The crossover was unique in that if you only read one series, say X-O Manowar, and had no intention to read the entire crossover, then you could read just the two chapters in X-O Manowar and still enjoy an almost complete story across those two chapters. That’s something that works very strongly in favour for the ongoing series that Unity crosses over, but when reading the story twenty-six years later it does have the effect of causing a sense of repetition as numerous scenes are retold – often from another character’s perspective, but not always. This also allowed for a slower build for the story, almost too slow by today’s standards, with a non-linear timeline that is perhaps necessitated by each contributing series having a complete story across both chapters.

The plot of Unity focused on a being of pure energy, much like Solar, called Erica Pierce who sought to unify all of time into one place, known as the Lost Land, where time moves incredibly slowly in comparison to the rest of the time stream. From the Lost Land, one can enter the timestream at any point, except in the Lost Land’s past, making the place a time nexus.It’s for this reason that Pierce wants to consolidate the timeline and eliminate anything that is not in the Lost Lands. Understandably, the heroes of the Valiant universe, both past and present, band together to stop her.

The covers to the second part also form a larger image when pieced together.

It’s the past and present of the heroes that’s interesting as we get the Eternal Warrior from the 1990’s and the Eternal Warrior from 4001 in the room at the same time, which leads to some interesting interactions between the two characters. What I was perhaps most surprised about was the ease of which you could read the series from start to finish without any knowledge of 90’s Valiant; now obviously I am more than a little familiar with post-2012 Valiant, so I may have had some advantage there, but one could also easily make the case that going in with knowledge as to who the characters are now doesn’t make it easier to read about who they were. It’d almost be like a Marvel vs Ultimate Marvel, or DC before and during the New 52 and then the Rebirth era. Similar, but not the same. More of a case of the new being inspired by the old.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the crossover, and was equally as surprised when I found myself collecting the original Valiant comics as a result. It was an epic story but because it was also designed to be ready easily if you only picked up some of the series involved, say Magnus, X-O Manowar and Harbinger, when reading every single issue you will notice there is some overlap. Often from a different perspective, but it lends those issues a feeling of familiarity that can be hard to shake. Although given the time displaced setting, one can argue that this familiarity is an added layer to the story – and the saga never shies from going in depth with the character’s emotions and thoughts, which is ideal if you’re starting to read VH1 comics with Unity as I did.

As a crossover story by a then young company, this was as ambitious as it was daring. Unity is the benchmark that other Valiant crossover stories are often held to, even today. After reading the story, I understand why.

Because some of the characters and comics included in the story are no longer under VEI ownership, it can be very hard to find the trades of Unity. Fortunately, the floppies are still relatively easy to track down for a very reasonable price. I don’t think I paid more than $4 for any of the books with the average being between $1-2. That is a great price considering what’s presented in this story.

Do you think that this kind of line wide crossover could work in today’s market?

Valiant Hero Of The Week: Peter Stanchek/Harbinger

Every Monday for the next few weeks, Valiant Entertainment is running a poll on Twitter to provide fans with some escapism while new comics are in short supply. The poll allows Valiant fans the opportunity to select the “Hero Of The Week” from four choices. That week’s hero will then be the focus of free pdfs featuring the character, videos from Valiant staff, giveaways and more. This week, the poll featured Peter Stanchek/Harbinger, Divinity, Eternal Warrior, and Doctor Mirage.

This week’s winner was…

Peter Stanchek

Who is he? One of the most powerful psiots in the Valiant Universe, Peter Stanchek has incredible telepathic and telekinetic abilities. He also has the ability to activate other psiots without having to subject them to the painful procedure they would otherwise need to go through. Peter is, theoretically, a hero standing against Valiant’s major “villain” Toyo Harada, though Peter is far from the angelic paragon you would expect. A drug addicted psychic who can’t shut his powers off, he is guilty of some serious telepathic actions that will leave you uncomfortable when you really sit back and think about what is going on – and yet, you can’t help but root for the guy as he tries to find redemption for what he has done.

Because Peter has really appeared in the Harbinger family of books that really doesn’t work if you read them out of order, the below section will cover the first three or four trade paperbacks in detail, and then provide a list of the remaining books in a reading order. I’ll include the full story, which also includes Imperium and The Life And Death Of Toyo Harada as they wrap up the stories of certain characters introduced in Harbinger. Plus, they’re also fantastic.

What should you read?

Harbinger: Omega Rising

Super-powered teenager Peter Stanchek is on a dangerous path. Skipping across the country in a desperate attempt to stay one step ahead of the authorities, Peter is quickly realizing that he’s a psionically-charged “harbinger” with the potential to reshape the course of human history. But Peter’s plight has not gone unnoticed. Respected philanthropist and fellow harbinger Toyo Harada is about to offer Peter the chance at the things for which the boy has always longed — family, inner peace, self-control — and induct him into the sprawling, secret network of conspiracy and subversion known as the Harbinger Foundation. Now Peter begins his long road towards a destiny that will shake the very foundations of the Valiant Universe. His first lesson? All power comes with a price.


This volume kicks off an epic tale by Joshua Dysart that spans Harbinger and Imperium, and because I devoured the first twenty issues in two days I don’t really remember exactly what happened in the first volume, so I took the above text directly from Valiant’s website.

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXologyTFAW

Harbinger: Renegade

Harbinger: Renegade

Outside the law. Inside your head. Welcome to the Renegades.

Battered and broken after his escape from the Harbinger Foundation, telekinetic teenager Peter Stanchek only has one option left – run. But he won’t have to go it alone. Crisscrossing America with the only two people he can trust, Peter will have to activate a new team of super-powered recruits before Toyo Harada and his Harbinger shock troops can reach them first. Peter Stanchek. Zephyr. Kris. Flamingo. You’ve never met a team of super-powered teenagers quite like the Renegades. And, together, they’ll dismantle Harada’s global empire one brick at a time.

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXology

Harbinger Vol. 3 Harbinger Wars

Harbinger Vol. 3 Harbinger Wars

Before the Harbinger Foundation, before Project Rising Spirit, Toyo Harada spent decades circling the globe, recruiting empowered individuals to his cause through coercion, intimidation and influence. But how is one deal brokered in secret between Harada and Rising Sprit Securities forty years ago now wreaking havoc in the modern day? And when the past comes roaring back, how will Peter Stanchek and the rest of Harada’s most wanted react to the revelation of Rising Spirit’s secret mission and the Harbinger hunter known as Bloodshot?

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXology

Harbinger Wars

Harbinger Wars

Harbinger Wars, Valiant’s first crossover event, begins here! Two dozen undisciplined, untested and untrained superhuman children have just escaped from a top-secret research facility and into the world. When Bloodshot, Toyo Harada and Peter Stanchek join the chase, will the Valiant Universe be ready for its first all-out superhuman showdown?

If you’re confused about the the inclusion of Harbinger: Harbinger Wars and Harbinger Wars, it’s worth noting that the former collects the tie in issues from Harbinger and the latter contains the actual four issue miniseries. For the full story, there’s also Bloodshot: Harbinger Wars. This was the first major crossover in Valiant ‘s relaunch, and for many it still ranks as one of the best crossovers the company has published since relaunching.

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXology


Below you’ll find a reading order if you want to follow the story of Peter Stanchek and Toyo Harada through to its (current) conclusion based on publication order.

  1. Harbinger: A Perfect Day
  2. Harbinger: Death Of A Renegade
  3. Harbinger: Omegas
  4. Imperium: Collecting Monsters
  5. Imperium: Broken Angels
  6. Imperium: The Vine Imperative
  7. Imperium: Stormbreak
  8. Harbinger Renegade: Judgement Of Solomon
  9. Harbinger Renegade: Massacre
  10. The Life And Death Of Toyo Harada

It’s worth noting that you can get Deluxe Editions of many of these stories that collect what amounts to three trades in a hardcover. They are comparatively better valued, but present a higher initial cost (based on standard retail pricing not including sales and discounts). They’re my personal preference.


This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Valiant Hero Of The Week: Peter Stanchek, Doctor Mirage, Eternal Warrior and Divinity

Every Monday for the next few weeks, Valiant Entertainment is running a poll on their Twitter feed to provide fans with some escapism while new comics are in short supply. The poll allows Valiant fans the opportunity to select the Hero Of The Week from four choices – this week, the poll features Peter Stanchek, Doctor Mirage, Eternal Warrior and Divinity. That week’s hero will then be the focus of free pdfs featuring the character, videos from Valiant staff, giveaways and more.

At Graphic Policy, we’re going to be running a spotlight on the winning character all week through various features depending on the character, but at the very least you’ll see our favorite covers and stories.

But Valiant has a lot of great characters, and it’d be a shame to not let you know which stories to read to get to know some of them a little more in case they don’t end up winning the fan vote. This week’s characters are a prime example of this, and the exact reason that we wanted to shine a little light on all four ahead of the week.

Below you’ll find a brief snapshot of the character and a trade paperback to check out, including the blurb from Valiant’s website. For fun, I’ll also note who I think is most likely to win (bear in mind this is being written on Sunday).

Peter Stanchek

Peter Stanchek

Who is he? One of the most powerful psiots in the Valiant Universe, Peter Stanchek has incredible telepathic and telekinetic abilities. He also has the ability to activate other psiots without having to subject them to the painful procedure they would otherwise need to go through. Peter is, theoretically, a hero standing against Valiant’s major “villain” Toyo Harada, though Peter is far from the angelic paragon you would expect. A drug addicted psychic who can’t shut his powers off, he is guilty of some serious telepathic actions that will leave you uncomfortable when you really sit back and think about what is going on – and yet, you can’t help but root for the guy as he tries to find redemption for what he has done.

What should you read?

Harbinger: Omega Rising

Super-powered teenager Peter Stanchek is on a dangerous path. Skipping across the country in a desperate attempt to stay one step ahead of the authorities, Peter is quickly realizing that he’s a psionically-charged “harbinger” with the potential to reshape the course of human history. But Peter’s plight has not gone unnoticed. Respected philanthropist and fellow harbinger Toyo Harada is about to offer Peter the chance at the things for which the boy has always longed — family, inner peace, self-control — and induct him into the sprawling, secret network of conspiracy and subversion known as the Harbinger Foundation. Now Peter begins his long road towards a destiny that will shake the very foundations of the Valiant Universe. His first lesson? All power comes with a price.


This volume kicks off an epic tale by Joshua Dysart that spans Harbinger and Imperium, and because I devoured the first twenty issues in two days I don’t really remember exactly what happened in the first volume, so I took the above text directly from Valiant’s website.

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXologyTFAW


Doctor Mirage

Who is she? Shan Fong. A woman who can communicate with the dead, including her late husband Hwen (who is the Doctor Mirage from the original Valiant run that began in the 90’s). She is also a former reality television star and a woman versed in magic. If there’s a supernatural threat, then Doctor Mirage is going to be the first person that the general public turn to.

What should you read?

The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage

Doctor Mirage talks to the dead…but the only spirit Shan Fong can’t find is that of her late husband, Hwen. Instead, America’s favorite semi-retired paranormal investigator is haunted and raw, using her gift to solve homicides and bring peace to the recently bereaved. But when a big-time occultist with a classified military past hires her for a special job, Shan discovers a lead that might close the greatest mystery she’s ever tackled – how to get Hwen back. Now, Doctor Mirage must enter the undiscovered country and cross all the realms of the underworld, if she has any hope of rescuing the man she loves…or be forever lost beyond the earthly plane.


I copied the above directly from Valiant’s website because I couldn’t remember much about the book other than I really enjoyed the story, which is great because this also happens to be a great place to pick up the character’s story.

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXologyTFAW


Eternal Warrior

Who is he? The immortal guardian of the Earth and it’s Geomancer. Gilad Anni-Padda has lived for thousands upon thousands of years, and has become a master combatant and strategist. He is also, unquestionably, my favourite character in the Valiant universe and easily within my top five comic book characters – needless to say, I’m hoping that he wins the week so I can spend the week writing about the Earth’s Fist and Steel.

What should you read?

Book Of Death

The Valiant heroes. X-O Manowar. Bloodshot. Ninjak. The Harbinger Renegades. Unity. This is how they lived. This is how they died.

Now we know. The Book of the Geomancer has recorded it all. But only a young girl – the last in a line of the enigmatic mystics who protect the Earth known as
Geomancers – has seen this future come to pass, from the coming cataclysm to the dawn of the 41st century. Alone with her sworn protector, the Eternal Warrior – a soldier battle-forged across five thousand years of combat – the duo must defy their allies to stop the Dark Age that now threatens to eclipse our world.

Together, they are the number one target of every hero and villain on Earth. Either the Eternal Warrior hands her over…or they take him down. But can even he single-handedly protect one child when the entire Valiant Universe wages war against him?


This was my introduction to Gilad, and it was also what sold me on the Valiant universe as a whole. Book Of Death is technically a sequel to The Valiant, a book that I’ve recommended already in these weekly columns, and will again if Eternal Warrior wins the week. But you don’t need to read that story to enjoy this. You get an immediate sense of what an absolute monster the Eternal Warrior is very early in the series as he faces down Valiant’s premiere super team, Unity, entirely alone. That Book Of Death leads directly into Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior, easily one of my favourite Valiant stories (are you sensing a theme with this?) and there’s no question in my mind that this is the place to start if you want to read about the Eternal Warrior

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXologyTFAW


Divinity

Who is he? One of the three most powerful beings in the Valiant universe, Divinity was a Russian Cosmonaut who gained phenomenal power, and can manipulate reality as he sees fit. Essentially a man who has become a god. Fortunately, he is also a pacifist and just wants to be left to himself. You can imagine how that ends up.

What should you read?

Divinity

At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union – determined to win the Space Race at any cost – green lit a dangerously advanced mission. They sent a man farther into the cosmos than anyone has gone before or since. Lost in the stars, he encountered something unknown. Something that…changed him.

Long thought lost and erased from the history books, he has suddenly returned, crash-landing in the Australian Outback. The few that have been able to reach him believe him to be a deity – one who turned the scorched desert into a lush oasis. They say he can bend matter, space, and even time to his will. Now the rest of the world’s powers must decide for themselves – will the enigmatic Divinity offer his hand in friendship, or will Earth’s heroes find themselves helpless against the wrath of the divine?


The above text, again taken from Valiant’s website, describes a four-issue miniseries that introduces the character, and is an example of some of the best stuff Valiant put out. Divinity kicks off a four-part epic encompassing the Divinity trilogy and culminating in Eternity. Regardless of whether Divinity wins the poll this week or not, I highly recommend you reading the books.

Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXologyTFAW


This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

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