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 Bloodshot, Ninjak, Punk Mambo, and Quantum & Woody. 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. Today’s poll is between Bloodshot, Ninjak, Punk Mambo, and Quantum & Woody.
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).
Who is he? A dead man brought back to life with billions of tiny machines in his blood that grant him enhanced strength, stamina and an incredible ability to heal from anything. This dude makes Deadpool look frail. Bloodshot is also the only Valiant character to be featured in a major motion picture with Sony’s Bloodshot released just before North America began to shut down due to the pandemic. You can find it digitally now if you didn’t see it in theaters, and because of that, I won’t go too much into his background because the movie does a pretty solid job of capturing the essence of the character. If I was putting money on anything, it’d be that Bloodshot wins this week’s poll.
What should you read? Valiant have published a lot of really good Bloodshot comics over the years, but if I had to tell you to read just one story arc it would be Bloodshot Reborn: Colorado. Written by Jeff Lemire with art by Mico Suayan, this is the beginning of one of my favorite runs in comics. Picking up just after Bloodshot has regained his humanity after being freed of his nanites, the former super-soldier finds himself a shadow of what he was. So why does he feel so guilty about a string of murders he has no connection to? You’ve really got to read this to appreciate how well Lemire toys with your emotional connection to the character – and Suayan’s art has to be seen to be believed.
Who is he? A blend of Batman and James Bond. Colin King is at the peak of human conditioning, both physical and mental, has access to near limitless financial resources, and also works on contract for MI6 as a high tech ninja operative. If you’re looking for something familiar from Valiant, then you’d think that Ninjak would scratch the Batman itch, but unlike Batman, Ninjak has no problem using his weapons to their full deadly potential. Although Ninjak has yet to feature in a movie, he was the star of Ninjak Vs. The Valiant Universe, a webseries produced by Bat In The Sun that you can probably find on Youtube now.
What should you read? Ninjak: Weaponeer. This collection covers the first five issues of Ninjak’s Valiant Entertainment relaunch, and is written by Matt Kindt and features Clay Mann, Butch Guice, and Juan Jose Ryp‘s artistic talents. This is where you’ll want to go for your introduction to the character, despite his first appearance coming in an issue of X-O Manowar a couple of years prior. We’re (re)introduced to Colin King and discover how he became Ninjak in flashbacks that twin with the present as King hunts down the Shadow Seven.
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? 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.
Quantum and Woody
Who are they? Yes, they. While one can wonder about the technicality of including two characters as one, Quantum and Woody are inseparable. Including one and not the other would make as much sense as playing football without a ball. It’s just not the same. Quantum and Woody are adoptive brothers who must touch the golden bracelets on their arms once every 24 hours or they’ll explode into nothingness – potentially taking the planet with them. That the brothers are polar opposites only makes the comics even better; Eric Henderson, aka Quantum, hides his identity to protect those around him because he wants to be a hero. Woody Henderson doesn’t. He’s all about the fame.
What should you read? Honestly, the Quantum and Woody story I’m the most taken with is the one being released currently. However, that’s not ideal for you if you’re looking to check them out now because the last two issues will be released…. eventually. Instead, then, I’ll point you to Quantum And Woody: The World’s Worst Superhero Team because it’ll introduce these guys to you in the most honest way possible. The title alone should give you an idea as to what you should expect; this book isn’t dark and moody but is injected with humor as it deals with the estranged brother’s relationship and their new place in the world.