VALIANT CEO Says Return 'Like Seeing an Old Friend Again'

VALIANT CEO on Publishing Plans

Valiant Entertainment, in its original incarnation one of the largest comic book companies of the 1990s, announced Thursday plans to for a revival as a publishing entity in 2012.

Other than Solar, Turok and Magnus, Robot Fighter — three Silver Age characters formerly licensed by Valiant and currently controlled by Dark Horse Comics — the current Valiant Entertainment reports that they own all the characters associated with the publisher, both from the initial Valiant Universe and subsequent reboot in 1996 as part of now-defunct video game company Acclaim Entertainment.

"Valiant Entertainment owns and controls the rights to all the Valiant characters, including those versions published under Acclaim’s ownership," Valiant CEO Jason Kothari told Newsarama, specifically mentioning X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, Harbinger, Archer & Armstrong, Shadowman, Rai, Ninjak, Quantum & Woody and Eternal Warrior. "We own everything except for those three Gold Key characters."

Following Acclaim's bankruptcy, Kothari and Dinesh Shamdasani purchased the Valiant intellectual property in an April 2005 asset auction. Ownership of the Valiant characters has not always been clear in the interim period, but former Marvel CEO and vice chairman Peter Cuneo, now the chairman of Valiant Entertainment, says that the company has conducted "extensive due diligence" to ensure that they own these characters free and clear.

Solar, Turok and Magnus were first published by Gold Key in the 1960s, then licensed by Valiant to serve as integral characters in the original Valiant Universe. Dark Horse currently holds the license to the three characters, with writer Jim Shooter at the helm. Shooter co-founded Valiant in 1989 with writer-artist Bob Layton.

In 2009, Valiant Entertainment reportedly filed suit against Shooter due to him accepting work with Dark Horse representing a breach of a non-compete clause as part of his former position as the new Valiant Entertainment's editor-in-chief. At the moment, it appears the issues have been resolved.

"Valiant has no current legal actions involving Jim Shooter," Kothari said. "Jim is an incredible creative talent, and we wish him well."

Despite Shooter's close historical ties to Valiant, Kothari says that the Valiant Universe is bigger than any one person.

"Jim Shooter, Bob Layton and Barry Windsor-Smith were able to make the Valiant Universe truly special, but our success is not tied to any one individual, no more that Marvel’s success today is tied to Stan [Lee]," Kothari said. "We work in a collaborative medium, and Valiant is fortunate to have many extremely talented creators helping us shape the new Valiant Universe."

They're not ready to announce those creators yet, though. Beyond the initial announcement, Valiant declined to reveal many details as to their future publishing plans. Kothari and Cueno wouldn't comment specifically on potential creative teams (saying more will be revealed closer to the return to publishing in 2012), or editorial staff (saying that an announcement will be made in a few weeks).

Kothari did say that there would be "continuity" with personnel involved in the original Valiant working for the new publisher, and indicated that, along with the established Valiant properties, new characters may also be part of the mix.

"While many Valiant characters with a rich history, such as X-O Manowar and Bloodshot, will be playing key roles initially, there will other characters that play prominent roles, as we look to forge our own creative path as the new Valiant," Kothari said.

It's unclear if the new titles will have any ties to previous continuity, but Kothari said that the approach will be tapping into the "core concepts" that made the characters successful originally.

"It will be like seeing an old friend again after a few years," Kothari said. "He might have new stories to tell, and he might have a different haircut, but it’s still good old Armstrong."

The biggest question facing the Valiant team is the feasibility of launching a new, superhero/action-adventure publisher during a time of national economic recession and soft comic book direct market. Kothari, a self-professed fan of the original Valiant, appears to be counting at least partly on nostalgia — though not solely depending on it.

“Those original Valiant characters and stories were powerful and deeply resonated with me and many people of my generation," Kothari said. "This is why there is a such a passionate Valiant fanbase to this day. The new Valiant Universe will be designed from the beginning to be a sophisticated superhero universe for today’s extremely intelligent reader, whether they are familiar with Valiant or not."

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