It's safe to say that the re-launch of Valiant Comics' publishing division in 2012 has been a categorical success. Like a Phoenix bursting from the ashes, Valiant was restored from the bankruptcy of its parent company - Acclaim - in 2005 by Dinesh Shamdasani and Jason Kothari. Over the last few years, Valiant has been racking up Diamond Gem Awards, Harvey Awards and some record sales too.
Thanks to this achievement, iconic Valiant characters like Bloodshot, X-O Manowar and Shadowman have found a new audience. They've been given a new life and renewed resonance. In comicdom we just can't get enough of ranking things, though, so who exactly are the most powerful Valiant characters?
Ninjak is also known as Ninja-K. He's a special agent of the MI-6 Ninja programme (if we all cross our fingers and wish really, really hard, maybe the Ninja programme will become a real thing). Despite only being a mere mortal, the greatest mercenary in the Valiant Universe has racked up quite the selection of supervillain kills and superhero defeats.
He's taken down the 'plantings' of an alien race - the Vine, defeated the Shadow Seven, handed the Magpie (AKA Shadowman) a can of butt whupping, outwitted X-O Manowar and even blew up the necromancer Master Darque with a nuclear explosion. Clearly, don't mess with this Ninja.
In a superhero world usually divided into the altruistic good and the diabolically bad, Shadowman is delightfully ambiguous. Possessed by a spirt, or loa, Jack Boniface becomes the Shadowman. Despite meaning well, things don't always go the way Jack intended. Sometimes, just like in real life, our positive intentions can have unexpectedly negative consequences.
Shadowman has all of the standard abilities you would expect of a superhero; super strength, speed and not looking podgy in spandex even after eating carbs. But it is his ability to travel to the Deadside and harness its power that earns him a spot on this list.
You cannot stop Bloodshot. The snow-white-skinned warrior is like Wolverine on steroids; capable of recovering from the types of heinous injuries that would make Deadpool wince. This healing factor is all thanks to the nanites that swarm around his blood.
These same nanocomputers provide Bloodshot with superhuman strength and speed as well as enabling the ultimate soldier to shapeshift at will. He can also interface with computers. We don't just mean that he can swipe left and right on Tindr: he has powers of cyberkinesis. Bloodshot can just about do it all.
7 X-O Manowar
There is no more powerful force in the universe than the X-O Manowar armour. Other than the next six names on this list, of course. That notwithstanding, Aric of Darcia is a formidable presence in the Valiant universe. His sentient armour provides him with more superpowers than you can shake a Visigoth ax at.
There's all the expected and unexciting basics; enhanced strength, speed and endurance, that sort of thing. But Aric can also cloak himself, shoot an assortment of power blasts as well as summon a massive energy sword that can cleave through virtually anything. No wonder he took down an entire alien space fleet on his own.
6 Ivar Timewalker
Let's face it, in a one-on-one fight Shadowman, Bloodshot and X-O Manowar would have Ivar for breakfast. Then why the high ranking on this list? That's because Ivar is capable of time travel. One of the eternal brothers, Ivar Anni-Padda has the ability to find 'time-arcs' - portals that allow him to leap from one point in the timeline to another. One moment he might be hanging out with Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar, the next he'll be flung forward thousands of years into the future.
Admittedly, Ivar made a pledge not to interfere with history - despite the difficult moral choices that decision inevitably dictates - but just imagine if his did. Could Shadowman, Bloodshot or X-O Manowar defeat Ivar if he travelled to the time before they inherited their powers?
In a world dominated by technology, a psionic teletechnopath is king. Or, in Amanda McKee's case, queen. Livewire has the power to interface with and control electrical machines. Which is a fairly banal description for the incredible potency of Livewire's powers.
Livewire holds within her hands the ability to destroy the world many time over. If she felt the need, Amanda could access the world's nuclear weapon systems and unleash the apocalypse. It is for this reason --as well as the fact she makes wearing orange look cool-- that she reaches number five on this list.
4 Master Darque
Master Darque is the quintessential villain of the Valiant Universe, and for good reason: his incredible powers make him a force to be reckoned with for even the mightiest of heroes. Born Nicodemo Darque in 1812 Louisana, Darque and his twin sister Sandri were raised by their power-mad magician father. Clearly this was not a supportive and wholesome upbringing, resulting in Darque becoming the living - and dead - worlds' most powerful Necromancer.
Master Darque's impressive control of magic makes him nearly impossible to kill. It took being turned into a tree - yes, really - and then an atomic explosion to finally finish him off. Though he'll undoubtedly make a dramatic return soon.
3 Peter Stancheck
As an Omega level Psychic, Peter was always going to rank highly on this list. He can harness the full gamut of mind based powers; telepathy, mind control, and always winning at poker. But it his innate ability of being able to 'activate' the psychic powers of other 'Harbingers' that truly sets him apart from his colleagues on this list.
To bring out the psychic powers in others is a messy affair. The process can go horribly wrong, resulting in buckets of gore and one very dead potential psychic. Peter being able to circumvent this inconvenience, as well as being able to unleash his own incredible powers, makes him one of the most powerful characters in the Valiant universe.
2 Toyo Harada
The best comic book villains are those that believe they are heroes. This certainly applies to Toyo Harada: he intends to save the world, and heaven help anyone who gets in his way! How best to imagine Toyo? Probably by imagining the love child of Tony Stark, Dr Doom and Professor X. This is a man with near limitless power who also has fun facial hair.
It took the entirety of the super team known as Unity (consisting of the formidable foursome of Livewire, X-O Manowar, Eternal Warrior, and Ninjak) to stop Toyo, and even their combined strength couldn't put him down for long.
There are many professed 'gods' in the world of comic books. Characters such as Marvel's Thor and DC's Zeus are ostensibly gods, but their divinity is more aligned with super-powered fisticuffs. In comparison, Divinity is a god in the truest sense of the word. He's all-powerful with the ability to change reality itself to his will.
After being granted impossible powers by a mysterious cosmic entity, Russian cosmonaut Abram Adams and his two comrades finally found their way back to earth and caused a lot of chaos. Between them, they rewrote history and built the brief - but fun - Stalinverse. Reality has been changed by each Cosmonaut in the pages of Divinity; these omnipotent beings simply cannot be stopped through conventional means. Divinity, without doubt, has no equal in the Valiant universe.