Controversy Follows More News On “Valiant First” For Publisher’s Year 3 Kick-Off

A few days ago, I posted some info on Valiant First, the upcoming expansion to Valiant’s publishing line. I have received some additional images regarding Rai, so I wanted to showcase them and talk a little bit more about how I see the future of Valiant.

Rai 1 Alternate Covers

First up, we have Rai issue 1’s SIX confirmed alternate covers; there could even be more. I’m actually not a particularly big fan of variant covers. I have always been more of a comic reader than a collector. That said, I do think these are all really well done.  I especially love the big “RAI” logo along the right side of many of the covers.   Yeah, it may take away some of the room for the art, but I also think it gives Rai a very unique look.  Same reason I like when Marvel does weird trade dresses for their events, like Civil War and Marvel Now.  You immediately can identify those books in a crowded marketplace.

Rai 1 Preview Pages

Next up, we have some beautifully hand painted interior pages from Rai issue 1.

Clayton Crain has done a great job here creating a fully imagined Japan in the year 4001.  These four pages have a ton of detail in them, and we are introduced to a wide variety of settings and characters.  Hard to tell what it all means without the writing, but it’s clear to me that Rai is being given a lot of love and attention and is going to be a real centerpiece of the Valiant universe moving forward.

Speaking of Rai, one last thing before I move on to talking about the rest of Valiant’s new books.  The Rai relaunch is long overdue and has already gotten some controversy.  Artist Bernard Chang has been particularly outspoken about this issue, saying that Rai’s “Rising Sun” costume is analogous to setting a story in future Germany and putting a Nazi swastika on him. The Rising Sun logo has always represented Japanese imperialism, and all the evils that came along with that.

I will admit, I am no where near intelligent enough to speak on this issue with any real depth, but I did think it was important to share it to let people make their own decisions on this issue.

For Japan, it’s a symbol that means one thing…in other countries, they have a legitimate grudge against it. To a certain extent, it is like the American flag to me.

Personally for me, that is an awesome design for Rai, ignoring the political ramifications. BUT, if it a symbol that is particular offensive to people, then Valiant really might want to reconsider.

Overall Thoughts

Whenever I see a comic company, especially a relatively young one like Valiant’s current incarnation, doing an expansion like this, I have some concerns.

One of the biggest faults I saw in the original Valiant line is that they expanded way too fast, and the result was a lot of books that probably didn’t need to exist along with a lot of “guest artists” and books done by what felt like “B-level” creative teams. Sure, a company should strike while the iron is hot, and Valiant has already made a lot of waves in a short time. But at the same time, a small company needs to have a solid growth plan in place.

In a lot of ways, I also think this is what killed Crossgen. The company got way too big, way too fast, and it didn’t seem like the infrastructure was in place to maintain this rapid growth. Marvel and DC are backed by Disney and Warner Brothers respectively. A Marvel or DC book failing typically won’t have much of a long term impact on the company. But for a smaller company with far less product on the market, it can have a much bigger impact.

BUT, before everyone starts accusing me of doom and gloom, I actually think Valiant is being real smart here. Of the “six” new books they are announcing, most of them are just mini-series or tie-ins to the massive Armor Hunters crossover. That means far less risk.

Of the two new ongoing series, Rai has been anticipated for a long time, and Valiant already seems to be putting a lot of marketing muscle behind this series to ensure it will get a strong launch.

The other ongoing series is The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage. Doctor Mirage has always been more of a niche title, and “supernatural romance” is a hot market. If Valiant makes some attempts at getting this book some wider exposure, it could go a long way to bringing more attention to Valiant. And there is already a build-in fan base out there. Over on the Comics Nexus Staff Board just a few days ago, someone was asking me if Doctor Mirage was coming back. Well, there you go!

All in all, it’s a real exciting time to be a Valiant fan. The core titles continue to get better and take risks that the Big Two seem to avoid. The books that aren’t quite working have been getting new creative teams (Shadowman) or complete overhauls (Bloodshot). The company is slowly looking to grow, but not getting too big too fast where it is unsustainable. 2014 is shaping up to be another big year for Valiant, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

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