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 Rai, Livewire, Punk Mambo and Eternal Warrior. 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 or two to check out. If you’ve read previous columns, then you’ll probably notice that there’s nothing new here. All of these characters have been featured before, and as such the books I’d recommend haven’t changed for first time readers.
Who is he? The guardian of New Japan, a floating city orbiting the earth in the year 4001 A.D., the noble Rai protects the city and serves the will of Father, the AI who runs New Japan. There’s so many layers to this character that you’ll peel away issue by issue as you read the book. The Rai in issue one is vastly different to the Rai in issue twelve, but because Matt Kindt’s character development is subtle but so effective.
What should you read?
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…
I want to tell you read the 2019 Rai series, but it hasn’t been collected yet, so instead, start with the first volume of the first series, Rai: Welcome To New Japan. Because Rai’s story is set apart from the rest of the Valiant universe in many ways, it’s really easy to follow across the first volume of Rai, 4001 A.D. and Fallen World. So start at the beginning.
Who is she? A psiot who can talk to technology, Livewire has always been a complicated person. Right now her position in the Valiant Universe is tenuous at best after the events of Harbinger Wars II, where the world at large views her as a domestic terrorist. A former pupil of Toyo Harada, Livewire is one of the more powerful characters in the Valiant Universe because of the access to data that her powers provide. The character has been involved in some pretty interesting stories over the years – some far better than others, but the below is one of the very best you’ll see her in.
What should you read?
The government has dispatched Amanda McKee – the technopath codenamed Livewire – to investigate the ruins of a secret facility formerly run by Toyo Harada, the most powerful telepath on Earth and her former mentor. In his quest for world betterment at any cost, Harada sought out and activated many potential psiots like himself. Those who survived, but whose powers he deemed to have no value to his cause, were hidden away at this installation. But Livewire, having studied Harada’s greatest strengths and learned his deepest weaknesses, senses opportunity where he once saw failure. A young girl who can talk to birds… A boy who can make inanimate objects gently glow… To others, these are expensive disappointments. But, to Livewire, they are secret weapons…in need of a leader. Now, as a mechanized killer called Rex-O seeks to draw them out, Livewire and her new team of cadets will be forced to put their powers into action…in ways they never could have imagined…
This isn’t strictly a Livewire story, but it does focus on a group of outcasts with utterly useless powers that Livewire gathers together for their protection because they’re being hunted by a psiot killer. This one of the best stories to come from Valiant, and is worth checking out whenever you get a chance.
Who is she? A sarcastic biting magician in the vein of John Constantine, Punk Mambo has very few figs to give about anybody. Her complete disregard for authority is fitting given the character’s name, and as such she works incredibly well against characters with a more straightforward motivation seen in books like Rapture or her self titled miniseries.
What should you read? Ninjak: Operation Deadside
Of all the characters in today’s poll, Punk Mambo is the one who hasn’t had that many appearances I’ve actually read. She first appeared in Shadowman #13, which is a series I haven’t even come close to finishing yet (I’ve got the first eight issues, so haven’t seen her introduction). My introduction to the character came in the story I’m going to recommend to you; Ninjak: Operation Deadside. Watching Punk Mambo and Ninjak interact with each other is one of the absolute highlights of the story as she ends up being the foil to everything Ninjak says and does. It was this story that got me hooked on the character, so I’m hoping you’ll have the same result.
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
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