Reminiscent of Valiant Entertainment’s status in the comic market for over a decade, the ValiantFans.com: The Unofficial “Summer of Valiant” panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego was tucked away in the back corner of the Convention Center and played to a small, but enthusiastic crowd, and after the panel had ended, Valiant CCO Dinesh Shamdasani gave CBR exclusive first word on the return of the popular Gold Logo Program.
Brian Wells of Valiantfans.com hosted the fan-run panel for the first time since 2007 — only this year Valiant has a line-up of titles currently being published. “X-O Manowar,” “Harbinger,” the newly released “Bloodshot” and “Archer & Armstrong” in August complete what has been dubbed “The Summer of Valiant.”
Wells’ asked the panelists what comes after the Summer of Valiant, the event which marked the first time in over a decade the company published a comic book, let alone four different ongoing titles.
“‘Ninjak is showing up in ‘X-O’ #5 this September. This second story arc is the first in the new Valiant universe. It’s part of the grand scheme for what comes right after.” Simons answered, not wanting to give too much away during the panel.
On the first appearance of weapons master Ninjak, “X-O” writer Robert Venditti said, “In this continuity you have a character like X-O who shows up out of nowhere with super advanced weaponry, and in that same universe you have someone who considers themselves the worlds-most weapons specialist — it would seem to me contrived to not have these characters meet. If X-O has this kind of weaponry, Ninjak would want to find what it’s all about. Something I’m pretty excited about in “X-O” #5 is where there’s a fight scene that contains what I would like to be X-O’s signature move. It came out great the way Lee Garbett drew it.”
On the subject of “Harbinger,” writer Joshua Dystart said, “It’s hard to talk about ‘Harbinger’s’ future because our idea is to base our decisions on what happened in the first book, but to pace it right.”
Dystart name dropped co-starring characters from “Harbinger’s” original series in the ’90s, evoking audible excitement from the room. “The relationships being established right now will come to a head in #5, which leaves Peter no choice but to build his team. Faith, Torque and Flamingo show up in #5 and things get really interesting. I’m dying for you guys to see what we do with Torque.”
When asked why he waited until “Harbinger” #5 to introduce the rest of the leading players, Dystart mentioned the antagonist of the series, Harada. “In order for this series to be successful, it’s important our focus is on the Peter/Harada relationship first. It’s what fuels this whole thing.”
Simons switched gears to talk about “Bloodshot,” saying, “Everything that happens in ‘Bloodshot’ #1 is going to be critical to what happens in the Valiant universe in the next year or so. And in ‘Archer and Armstrong’ we’ll see a number of characters introduced to the new valiant universe.”
Pierce did have good news regarding the classic Valiant titles coming back to print. “We’re launching a plan to repackage the old stuff. The next HC you see collecting the old material is ‘Bloodshot.’ It will be a slightly different package than the recent reprint collections. We’ve been looking at how other companies package their books.”
After the panel concluded, Valiant exclusively told CBR the return of their Gold Logo Program. Valiant’s Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Dinesh Shamdasani explained, “There is a long history at Valiant of passionate fans and the company embracing, rewarding and enabling that passion to create a sense of equity.
“The Gold Book embodies this in a way nothing else can. We do this for the fans — for being our secret weapon, our fifth Beatle,” Shamdasani said. At the end of the Valiant panel at Comic-Con, Shamdasani debuted their first new Gold Book in “X-O Manowar” #1 and passed a free copy off to every person in attendance.
Each of the new Valiant #1’s has a Gold Book edition on the way which can be won by fans. Shamdasani described how far fans used to go in the 90s to obtain these Gold Books — or Gold Logos as they were called back then. “Fans would take a photo of themselves promoting Valiant — a themed wedding, mowing the logo in your neighbor’s lawn, dressing your baby as Magnus.” He added to the list a man who created Valiant web icons back when the internet was still in its youth, and a church replacing a Bible verse on their board with the phrase “Read Valiant Comics.” “If you showed up at a convention dressed as a Valiant character, you’d get a Gold Logo. They were crazy,” Shamdasani said. In the 90s a photo would be featured in the back of Valiant’s monthly issues, but there were 30-40 winners at a time.
“It’s a way to have fun, to embrace the universe and help it grow,” Shamdasani said. “To feel a part of it. It’s really no different than what Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and those guys did at Marvel in the 60s — embrace the fan. Make fandom a part of creating this universe so we can all do it together.
“We’re re-instituting the program of ‘you support us, we reward you,'” he continued. “Send us a photo of you going out of your way supporting Valiant and you’ll get a Gold Book.” Beginning next week, Valiant is working with The Wounded Warrior Foundation charity, auctioning off Gold Books.