Valiant Entertainment recently announced a slew of exciting new titles scheduled to hit comic book stores in the back half of 2018. They titled the new wave ‘Valiant Beyond’ and each groundbreaking series has a dynamic creative team attached to a popular character. Fans are sure to lap up Faith: Dreamside by Jody Houser and MJ Kim, Bloodshot Rising Spirit by Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson and Ken Lashley, Livewire by Vita Ayala, Raul Allen and Patricia Martin, and Incursion by Andy Diggle and Doug Braithwaite. This was just the latest piece of awesome news to come out of Valiant, who have been consistently producing brilliant comics since their big relaunch in 2012. They offer up a genuine alternative to Marvel and DC’s superhero comics, and the sales and fan investment in the publisher has only grown over the last six years. Fans will soon get to see some Valiant characters on the big screen, as there are movies in development based on the characters Bloodshot and Harbinger. It’s an exciting time to be a Valiant fan.
In this article we’re going to look at 20 characters from across Valiant’s titles who are, let’s say, heavily inspired by recognizable characters from the Marvel and DC Universes. It’s not intended to be a slight on Valiant or their characters in any way — similarities exist between characters in Marvel and DC’s own stables, after all, so it’s nothing new. We simply intend to shine a light on the elements of the Valiant Universe that might make a fan think of a corresponding character from ‘The Big Two’. Nothing in this life is completely original, right?
20. BLOODSHOT – CAPTAIN AMERICA + WOLVERINE
Bloodshot, arguably Valiant’s most iconic character, is soon to appear in a big budget movie starring Vin Diesel. He’s a great choice to play the modern version of the character, a former soldier named Ray Garrison who became a super soldier with special nanites in his blood that gave him a variety of powers.
The nanites enabled Bloodshot to recover from any physical trauma, making him a one-man weapon built for destruction. However, after discovering that he had been brainwashed by implanted identities and false memories, he set off on a path of self-discovery. And if that description doesn’t sound like a nifty mix of Captain America and Wolverine, we don’t know what does.
19. HARBINGER – THE X-MEN
In the Valiant Universe, Harbingers are also known as Psiots. They are a race of evolved superhumans which psionic powers, which can include telepathy, telekinesis, mind-control, flight and pyro-telekinesis. Most of the Harbingers we follow in the comics are teenage outcasts forced to go on the run from the authorities.
They also encounter an older, more experienced psiot who runs the Harbinger Foundation, which seeks to recruit and train others with psionic abilities. Teenage outcasts with strange powers who are feared by normal humans and the police? A philanthropic man who runs a facility that offers them a sense of family and control over their powers? That’s the X-Men in a nutshell.
18. NINJAK – BATMAN
Ninjak is one of the Valiant Universe’s most popular characters. The world’s greatest mercenary and master of many forms of combat, his true identity is Colin King, a wealthy British playboy billionaire. Colin’s parents were both operatives for MI6 and when they passed, his upbringing was left to the family butler.
He was trained in the art of the ninja, and also honed his mind and body to the absolute peak. While he has no superpowers, he is considered the smartest man in the world and is an expert in strategy. Oh, and he wears a kevlar-armoured bodysuit. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Ninjak is very much Batman, only without his one rule that separates him from the criminals he fights.
17. X-O MANOWAR – IRON MAN
X-O Manowar is Aric of Dacia, a fifth century Visigoth warrior who was abducted by a race of aliens named The Vine. Aric manages to escape their clutches by stealing the X-O Manowar armor, which only the strongest and most worthy warriors are able to bond with.
When he returns to Earth he find that 1600 years have passed and everyone he knows he had vanished. He is left struggling to adjust to the modern world, while also grappling with the sentient armor’s abilities and ancient knowledge. The man-out-of-time element of Captain America’s story is clearly present here, and the armor was very much inspired by Iron Man.
16. SHADOWMAN – GHOST RIDER
In the current incarnation of the character, Jack Boniface is a young man from New Orleans who became Shadowman when an ancient voodoo spirit named the Shadow Loa bonded with him. The Loa gives him enhanced strength, endurance and reflexes, as well as regeneration powers and free passage to the Deadside (which is where human souls go when they die).
In most incarnations of Marvel Comics’ Ghost Rider, the Rider is a young man who becomes bonded with a demon. At night and when in the presence of evil his flesh is consumed by hellfire causing his head to become a flaming skull. The Rider also has superhuman strength and endurance, as well as the ‘penance stare’.
15. TOYO HARADA – LEX LUTHOR + RA’S AL GHUL
Toyo Harada is the only Harbinger in the world whose power rivals Peter Stanchek’s, and he is man who runs the Harbinger Foundation. Harada is a wealthy and influential man, and he believes his guidance is the only thing that can stop the world from destroying itself.
In order to preserve the planet, he wants to secretly conquer it. He will use any means necessary to achieve his goals and so he trains young psiots to serve in his army. Toyo Harada shows the world the businessman persona of Lex Luthor, but his belief in his vision of how to run the world is pure Ra’s Al Ghul.
14. LIVEWIRE – FORGE
You may think that it makes sense to compare the Valiant Universe’s Livewire (Amanda McKee) to the electrified supervillain Livewire from DC Comics — she does often have crackles of electricity flicking from her fingertips, after all. But the character she resembles more, at least in terms of her powerset, is the X-Men’s Forge.
Livewire is a technopath with the ability to control computers and create complex mechanical apparatuses with her mind. Forge is a mutant with an unrivalled brilliance when it comes to technology and invention. He can visually perceive mechanical energy in action, giving him the ability to conceive, design and build advanced mechanical devices. They’re two peas in a tech pod.
13. H.A.R.D. CORPS – SUICIDE SQUAD
The H.A.R.D. Corps (Harbinger Active Resistance Division Corps) is a combat unit created by the murky Project Rising Spirit. Their purpose is to hunt down and ‘neutralize’ rogue psiots. Interestingly, they are not superhumans themselves. Rather, they are humans with a neural implant which gives them access to a range of psiot powers (and shortens their lifespan).
They are considered highly expendable and Project Rising Spirit has the ability to detonate their neural implants at any time. A group sent on black-ops type missions with bombs in their heads that can be activated if they get out of line? That sounds a lot like Task Force X, aka the Suicide Squad, to us.
12. PROJECT RISING SPIRIT – WEAPON X
Building off our Bloodshot entry, we’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight how Project Rising Spirit, the shady government organization who deal in experimental weaponry and human experimentation, bears more than a passing resemblance to the Weapon X program. They created the living weapon Bloodshot and are shown to be behind plenty of other unethical projects in the Valiant Universe.
Weapon X, the clandestine government genetic research facility which laced Wolverine’s bones with adamantium and also experimented on Deadpool and Sabretooth is a clear inspiration for Project Rising Spirit. And hey, every superhero comics universe needs a shadowy government agency doing immoral things in the name of science (or, more accurately, war profiteering).
11. BLOODSQUIRT – BAT-MITE
This entry is really more of a loving homage than a rip-off. When Canadian comics supremo Jeff Lemire began writing Bloodshot Reborn in 2015 he introduced Bloodsquirt, a cute little psychological manifestation of Bloodshot in Ray Garrison’s mind. While he looks adorable, Lemire subverts expectations by having Bloodsquirt not-so-subtly push Ray into becoming a terminating machine again.
Lemire even said about the creation of the character: “At first as a joke to make Matt [Kindt] laugh, and then I started to think about actually including this warped, twisted little Bat-Mite-like character into the book and it just all clicked together”.
10. PETER STANCHEK – CYCLOPS
Peter Stanchek, aka Sting, is the leader of the Renegades, a group of psiots on the run from the Harbinger Foundation. He is an Omega-level psiot, which means he triggered his own powers and has the ability to activate powers in others. Peter is very well-intentioned and takes on the de facto leadership role of his group, but he is also quite troubled.
He is shown to struggle with the temptation to abuse his powers. This is not unlike the depiction of Cyclops in the years following Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men. Peter is the guy everyone looks to for leadership but who has a definite darker militant side to his personality, just like Scott Summers.
9. QUANTUM & WOODY – LUKE CAGE & IRON FIST
Quantum and Woody are two foster brothers who comprise an inept superhero team. Quantum, the more serious-minded of the two, is good with science whereas Woody is irresponsible and lacks discipline. They have to work together after being exposed to a strange energy source, which gives them the ability to shoot blasts of pure energy and generate power shields.
The comic is an out-and-out comedy and the new Valiant series features a lot of racial commentary and similarly to Luke Cage and Danny Rand, the Quantum is more sincere than Woody, who is a bit of a playboy. Their powersets mightn’t be anything alike, but the seeds for Quantum and Woody clearly lie in the buddy-cop dynamic of Power Man and Iron Fist.
8. DIVINITY – DOCTOR MANHATTAN
Divinity is one of the newest creations to hit Valiant comics. Created by Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine in Divinity #1 in 2015, there’s more than a hint of Doctor Manhattan to the character. Divinity is Abram Adams, a Russian cosmonaut who went on a 30-year space exploration mission. When he returned he had acquired god-like powers, including the ability to manipulate time and space.
Doctor Manhattan, of course, was created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in their seminal masterpiece Watchmen. He was a nuclear physicist who gained god-like powers after an accident, but then found himself increasingly unable to function in the world. He didn’t perceive time with a linear perspective, and thus became emotionless and distant from humanity.
7. ETERNAL WARRIOR – VANDAL SAVAGE
Gilad Anni-Padda, aka the Eternal Warrior, is one of three immortal champions in the Valiant Universe (the other two being Armstrong and Ivar, Timewalker) and he is sworn to protect the Geomancer of every generation. He is an expert in most forms of combat due to his spending a millennia training in them.
DC’s Vandal Savage is the other side of the coin. He is an immortal who has spent his many, many lifetimes devoted to evil. He has plagued the world with crime and violence since the very beginning of time. In fact, it was once hinted that Savage was actually Cain, the first true criminal according to the Bible, so he may be as old as the human race itself.
6. GEOMANCERS – ETERNALS
Geomancers are a lineage of men and women selected by the Earth itself to defend it. They can communicate with the Earth directly, can control nature and can warp reality. The most well-known Geomancer in the curent comics is Kay McHenry, who first appeared in “The Valiant” event and then in the Bloodshot Reborn series.
The closest analogue to the Geomancers is probably the Eternals from Marvel Comics, a race of humanity who were created by the Celestials. They were intended to be the protectors of Earth against their grotesque counterparts the Deviants (who were also the result of genetic experiments by the Celestials five million years ago).
5. ARCHER – AZRAEL
The backstory of Obadiah ‘Obie’ Archer, one half of the adventuring duo Archer & Armstrong, bears some striking similarities to the origin story of DC Comics’ Jean-Paul Valley, aka Azrael. Obie was trained by his preacher parents, who were members of a secret society known as The Sect, to be an eliminator.
He was brainwashed and was sent out into the world to off a man they had told him was a demon: the immortal Armstrong. Similarly, Jean-Paul Valley was raised by ‘The Sacred Order Of Saint Dumas’ to be their executioner. They used a brainwashing technique known as The System and activated his conditioning, transforming him into Azrael.
4. MASTER DARQUE – DORMAMMU
Nicodemo Darque is the world’s most powerful necromancer. He is most often an antagonist to Shadowman or Doctor Mirage. He has lived for over a century and has spent the majority of that time exploring the Deadside. He has the powers of energy projection, telekinesis, flight and pyrokinesis.
His closest counterpart in Marvel Comics is Dormammu, the arch enemy of the Sorcerer Supreme himself, Doctor Strange. Dormammu practices dark magic and can travel through other dimensions, enslaving demonic souls to do his bidding. Like Master Darque he has lived a very long time and is an expert in energy manipulation.
3. DOCTOR MIRAGE – CONSTANTINE
The Death Defying Doctor Mirage is Dr Shan Fong, a paranormal investigator and scientist. Her husband Hwen’s ghost is always with her, and while they can communicate, they cannot touch each other. Shan can ‘spirit walk’, which is a state of consciousness between sleep and dreaming where she can astrally project to another spirit realm, all while her body remains in the real word.
She is very much the Valiant Universe’s version of DC/Vertigo’s occult detective John Constantine, who has been known to communicate with demons and those who have passed, as well as any other number of supernatural things. Doctor Mirage is definitely more moral than Constantine though — he has always been something of an untrustworthy con-man.
2. FAITH – MS. MARVEL
Faith Herbert is a psiot and one of Peter Stanchek’s Renegades. She is a nerd who loves sci-fi and comic books, which leads her to adopt more obvious superhero characteristics than her friends. For example, she has a secret identity (Summer Smith) who wears glasses and works as a journalist.
Kamala Khan, the current Ms Marvel in the Marvel Universe, is a young lady who could also be described as a geek. She loves video games and cartoons and idolized Carol Danvers, the original Ms Marvel. Importantly, both characters break the mold of a typical female superhero: Faith is overweight, while Kamala is the first Muslim character to headline her own comic book.
1. UNITY – THE AVENGERS (OR THE JUSTICE LEAGUE)
Every good superhero universe needs a team book, right? The Valiant Universe has its own team of their Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (ahem) known as Unity. Originally formed in order to battle X-O Manowar, the team is a collection of heroes who join together to deal with threats no single hero could handle alone.
Eventually X-O Manowar joined the team, and other members have included Livewire, Ninjak, Eternal Warrior, Faith and GIN-GR. Comic book fans love seeing all their favorite characters come together in epic storylines, and both DC and Marvel have been doing them for decades with the Justice League Of America and Avengers books.
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