Today in Los Angeles, Valiant Entertainment revealed much of their publishing plans for the next year -- including a new Faith series titled "Faith and the Future Force" from Jody Houser, Stephen Segovia and Barry Kitson, and a new "Quantum and Woody" series from Daniel Kibblesmith and Kano -- at the "Valiant Summit" event Los Angeles, under the branding of "Icons."
Also revealed at the event: A teaser by artist Greg Smallwood for the return of Shadowman, one of Valiant's earliest and most prominent characters, created by Jim Shooter, Steve Englehart, David Lapham and Bob Layton and first seen in 1992. Shadowman represents the supernatural elements of the Valiant Universe, but has been mostly absent from the current titles since the most recent "Shadowman" series ended in 2014.
Valiant looks to change that in a big way -- first with the character's role in the "Rapture" minseries by Matt Kindt and CAFU, debuting in May, and then in a new "Shadowman" series starting in 2018, from an as-yet unrevealed creative team. Valiant's "Shadowman" teaser includes the date of March 28, 2018 -- which will be one year after the launch of the new "X-O Manowar" series, a very deliberate date selection as the publisher seeks to "plant their flag" on that date as an annual tradition for high-profile launches.
CBR spoke with Valiant Entertainment Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons and CEO and Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani to learn more -- at least, as much as they're willing to talk 11 months in advance -- about the new "Shadowman" series, the importance of the character to the Valiant Universe and the significance of that March 28 date.
CBR: Warren, Dinesh -- Shadowman is rather clearly making his way back to the forefront of Valiant. How significant of a character do you see Shadowman to the Valiant ecosystem? Right up there with say, X-O Manowar and Bloodshot? Warren Simons: Shadowman is one of the great iconic characters at Valiant. He is one of the amazing characters that we had right when we walked in the door on day one, and he’s been instrumental in shaping and building our universe.
As we’ve seen, one of the great joys of working at Valiant is how we plan things out, sometimes several years advance. And you can see that we did just that with Shadowman, starting with the “Operation: Deadside” arc in "Ninjak" #10-#13, which leads directly into the consequences of this summer’s standalone event series "Rapture." We have an amazing story in "Rapture," and when it closes out, it will put us in a position to help bring Shadowman to the forefront of our universe as one of our key characters in 2018.
What has the Valiant Universe been missing without Shadowman? What does he represent that's unique?
Simons: We have a supernatural side to the Valiant Universe, and it’s built largely out of the core of Shadowman and the tapestry that comes from him. Characters like Doctor Mirage, Punk Mambo, and even Ninjak -- they’re able to go into the Deadside, but they’re only visitors there. Shadowman however, is the only one who inhabits the Deadside, and who really lets us get an understanding of the people and things that live there.
Dinesh Shamdasani: Right. And there’s some really creepy, crazy stuff in the Deadside. We’re really excited about building and exploring all of that. If the Valiant fans think that they’ve seen the supernatural side of our universe, they should think again. You have not seen the true supernatural side of the Valiant Universe... but you’re about to.
Shadowman is set to return in "Rapture." How much does that story lead in to what's been teased today?
Simons: At the close of "Rapture" -- our standalone summer event, which sees Tama the Geomancer gather a supernatural strike force including Punk Mambo, Shadowman, Ninjak and a couple of new characters like Rex the Razer to take on an antagonist named Babel -- Shadowman is going to have a decision to make, and that decision is going to be the most consequential decision of his existence. The final pages of that series will have direct repercussions and effects on everywhere we go with Shadowman in 2018.
It's no coincidence that Shadowman's return has been announced for March 28, 2018, and the new "X-O" series launched the same date this year. What's the importance to you of using that date again? And are you looking for it to become an annual tradition, to 2019 and beyond?
Shamdasani: Absolutely. We’re looking for this to be an annual tradition. Valiant has been very lucky in that we’ve put out five years of titles that have been incredibly well received -- we’re the best reviewed publisher in the business. We set sales record after sales record, and we’re a very hungry and ambitious company. We aim to continue to grow, and we feel like our best stories and our biggest moments are ahead of us. We’re planting our flag, and March of every year is going to be Valiant’s month. As we just saw, this year’s "X-O Manowar" #1 was one of the largest independent launches in modern history. In fact, it was a launch that took down several Marvel and DC books that same month. We intend to do exactly the same thing with Shadowman, and we feel that if it’s not just as good of a book as "X-O Manowar" is, it will be even better.
This is us beating our chest a little bit, so stay tuned till March 2018... and just imagine what we’ve got planned for March 2019.
The new "Shadowman" creative team is yet-to-be revealed, but what made Greg Smallwood the right artist to illustrate the teaser?
Simons: Greg has become one of the finest artists in the industry. His cover work for Valiant on "Divinity III: Stalinverse," as well as his amazing covers and interiors on "Moon Knight" are some of the finest pieces being produced in the industry right now. Each and every month, we couldn’t be happier that he’s joined us. This first image is just absolutely jaw dropping, and a clear display of his talent.
Now that we know Shadowman is coming back in a big way, are there other significant Valiant characters that you see as due for a similar return or reinvention?
Simons: We can’t reveal too much right now, but we can say that we have big news coming up for Unity… and Rai… soon.
Keep reading CBR for more on "Shadowman."