In honor of Valiant’s 25th Anniversary, we’re counting down your picks for the twenty-five greatest Valiant Comics stories.
You all voted, now here are the results!
15. “Renegades” (Harbinger Vol.2 #6-10)
One of the most compelling changes that Joshua Dysart made in his reboot of Harbinger is that he pretty much remade the character of Kris Hathaway from someone with very little agency in the original Harbinger to someone whose viewpoints on the world end up actually driving the creation of the Renegades, the group of potential superpowered beings that she gets Pete Stanchek to activate the powers within them so that they can form a team to take down Toyo Harada. I love how Kris announces herself to Toyo Harada by tricking him into coming to her home and then catching him on video using his powers (which he had hidden to the world at this point in time). But then the other shoe drops, she’s not just relying on blackmail, she notified his rivals, Project Spirit Rising, of his whereabouts…
Dysart does fine work updating the various members of the Renegades from their original versions, with perhaps the new take on Torque being the best (a young boy whose legs are too weak to move immerses himself in a fantasy world where he is a big, strong guy – as it turns out, his latent power allows him to transform himself psionically INTO that guy). The whole thing works as a great set-up for the rest of the series. The artwork for the storyline featured a variety of pencilers, from Phil Briones to Barry Kitson to Lee Garbett to Pere Perez to Matthew Clark.
14. “Far Faraway” (Archer and Armstrong #10-13)
Throughout Archer and Armstrong’s series, a driving force is the mystical device known as the Boon, which is what gave Armstrong his immortality and is what Archer’s family (who are involved in one of a series of evil cults) want to gain access to for the power it can provide them. The Boon comes from a distant dimension known as the “Faraway,” and in this arc, Archer and Armstrong (and Archer’s “sister” Mary-Maria (who is currently sharing her body with the spirits of her and Archer’s evil, dead adopted parents) get sucked into a portal sending them to the Faraway, where we discover that pretty much anyone in history who has “disappeared” from Earth has actually ended up on the Faraway, including the Dinosaurs, the settlers at Roanoke, the planes that disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle, Amelia Earhart, all of them.
A group of aliens captured a Cold War era general (who was also a founder of Project Spirit Rising, the group that later created Bloodshot) who then took control of the aliens and is now the big bad guy in the Faraway, while meanwhile Archer has run into long-lost writer Ambrose Bierce and the two run into a cult based around Archer himself (as the Faraway has different rules for time, as the people from the past don’t age, but so, too, can people from the FUTURE enter the Faraway)….
This arc perfectly merges together writer Fred Van Lente’s interest in history along with his interest in writing really cool, twisted and funny characters (the Cold War era General is an awesome character, especially his interactions with the aliens. He has come to love getting probed). Pere Perez does a great job on art.
13. “Death of a Renegade” (Harbinger Vol.2 #22-25)
Since the formation of the Renegades, Joshua Dysart had made it clear the Renegades were very much fighting an uphill battle against the forces of Toyo Harada, but at the same time, there was always sort of a sense that if they just planned well enough and tried hard enough that they would be able to pull things off, and this seemed to be the case early in this story (drawn by Clayton Henry and Khari Evans) where Harada himself shows up to stop the plan of the Renegades only to find out that he’s been duped…
However, even if they succeed, Dysart wants to make it clear that this is not just fun and games, they are fighting a war and in a war, people die – and it is clear that as much as the Renegades understand the danger that they’re in, they won’t REALLY understand it until they bury one of their own, and the repercussions of that happening help tear the team apart. It’s a very well done examination on the effects of loss on a group.
Read on to the next page for #12-9!
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