Valiant Comics’ resurgence was quite an amazing success story.
Former CEO Dinesh Shamdasani really lined up some of the best talent available to recreate the characters from the short-lived 1992 Jim Shooter experiment of Valiant, a company that also had a very promising beginning, and was bought by Acclaim for video game production, soon tanking their comic book department.
We’re witnessing history repeating itself as a couple of years ago a Chinese investment firm bought Valiant. They phased out Dinesh and the top editor, Warren Simmons, the men responsible for bringing in greats like Jeff Lemire, Lewis LaRosa, Matt Kindt, and Tomas Giorello, and brought in an entirely new team of editors, including the notoriously controversial Heather Antos.
Storylines wrapped up with the last of the original era, and fans saw a pretty drastic change with the way the books were handled. Most of the relaunches of 2017 to bring the characters attention were brought to an end. Short mini-series and reboots with no particular direction began to appear.
The storylines and epic shared universe they created stalled out.
Valiant’s art quality saw a drop on the books, and industry rumors swirled that the company wasn’t even paying its talent or at least delaying payments (my source is a creator who worked for the company who will remain anonymous to protect this person, as I always do as a journalist). Moreover, Valiant pushed into political propaganda with its new books and the writers they hired, including notorious left-wing extremists Tini Howard and Mags Vissagio.
As a member of Valiant fan facebook groups and forums, I saw a drastic change in the way the fans reacted. Reviews of the books as of late have all been in the negative overall, and the amount of people commenting on the posts has dropped drastically. It led me to investigate their sales.
In January 2018, while Valiant still had its top tier talent working, their lineup for sales in units was like this:
Quantum and Woody #2 – 9,738
X-O Manowar #11 – 9,670
Ninja-K #3 – 9,369
Ninja-K vs. Valiant Universe (not in continuity) #1 – 8,927
Bloodshot Salvation #5 – 8,676
Eternity #4 – 8,487
Secret Weapons #0 – 6,554
Average Book Sales: 8,774
Bloodshot #5 – 6,007
Rai #3 – 5,080
Visitor #2 – 4,445
Roku #4 – 4,057
Psi-Lords #8 – 3,477
Average Book Sales: 4,613.
The drop in average sales across the line is at 48%.
Graphic Novel sales have seen a similar plunge in units, and the overall market share of Valiant from the end of 2017 to end of 2019 dropped by more than 70%.
We’re in a time as well where comparing overall industry sales, 2019 showed a big increase in sales which is propelling into 2020, where 2018 was at an industry low, so it’s not indicative of comic markets across the boards.
There can be no mistake – fans are not happy with the way that the current valiant universe is going. The company’s made drastic mistakes in both the properties they decided to push with Psi-Lords, a strange “social justice” experiment in cosmic superheroes.
But it’s not just that. Even Bloodshot’s numbers are down from the prior series by over 30%. And the troubling aspect of this is they are launching a Bloodshot movie starring Vin Diesel in two weeks. Sales should be tremendously up.
The relaunch of the #1 issue with all their variant covers and all sold a whopping 41,368 units – but they could only retain around 6000 readers from it? It’s a sign something’s wrong. It also shocks me since Bloodshot probably boasts their highest-regarded writer of this new crop with Tim Seeley of Hack/Slash and Nightwing fame. His draw alone should be pushing the book higher.
It stems from editorial, however. You look at their editorial across the board and it’s people who are promoting political ideology over great content that the fans want, which is what happens when the core business gets replaced with a company that cares more about holding onto movie IPs than they do producing an excellent comic line. The higher-ups don’t understand comics, and aren’t interested, so they bring in names like Antos to direct without really checking on what made the books great in the first place.
All of the old creators at Valiant seem to be out right now, which is a shame, since they’re what made Valiant great in this 2012 iteration. It’d be easy to refocus the organization and see what the fans want out of superheroes, but unless they have a major shake up, we’re not going to get the potential that this comic universe had to offer.
If you like classic comic storytelling with real heroism and a focus on fun, a book which doesn’t worry about being politically correct, read Dynamite Thor. This is the superhero of 2020 which is going to get people cheering, laughing, and enjoying comics again. Back on Kickstarter here, and support real indie alternatives.