Saturday, December 08, 2018 11:00:25 AM
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I read some issues as they originally came out, but was late to the Valiant game, so missed a lot of these. Mild spoilers follow.
Magnus #0-14: The "Steel Nation" arc was incredibly good. A few of the political moments were a bit slow, but overall very good. "Invasion" was downright phenomenal with #6 (particularly Rai #2 flipside) being one of the best comics I've read in a long time. "The Xyrkol Trilogy" on the other hand was a bit of a Silver Age homage mess that felt like an incredible step backwards. It also seemed to add nothing to the new mythology Valiant had been building. Thankfully, the intro of Turok with #12 got back to the forward-looking, world-building title the first 8 issues were. The "Asylum Saga" follow-up was an interesting idea with wonderful Ernie Colon art, but never quite came together for me.
Solar, Man of the Atom #1-11: This was a phenomenally dark read and such a fantastic way to create an entirely new universe. I was a bit confused as to how Magnus was a continuation of the old Gold Key books, but this was a universe (or two) that just had them as comics. Not bad, just one of those things that I wondered about a couple times. The interplay with the spider-aliens while something similar was happeing in Magnus 2,000 years in the future made for great companion reading. As did all the world-building and interplay with other Valiant characters once he was back on earth with #8.
Rai #1-5: After the "Invasion" arc in Magnus, I was really looking forward to this title. Interestingly, this is the one title in pre-Unity that doesn't give specific dates and times throughout the issues. I found that jarring after the tightness of the other titles. I probably wouldn't have cared if there wasn't so much else wrong with these issues. The story is bland and drawn out. Way too much under developed and yet dialogue heavy political shenanigans with incredibly generic stories around it. And the art was absolutely awful, particularly #4 & 5. It looked like someone posed action figures to come up with layouts. Incredibly static, boring, and stiff.
Harbinger #0-7: Two things immediately pop out with this. 1) Of the six original titles, this is the one that hasn't aged well at all. 2) It wasn't just Dysart, I don't like the entire Renegades/Harbinger concept. More germane to this write-up is how bad this book is 25 years later. None of the characters here are sympathetic. Not. A. Single. One. To the point that when one of the Renegades dies, I was actually relieved that we didn't have to read any more of their unbearably stupid and misogynistic dialogue. Taking the group to space by #3 (to tie into everyone meeting the spider aliens) didn't really fit in either. This just didn't work for me on any level.
X-O Manowar #0-6: X-O was my favorite Valiant title back in the 90s, so this was a complete re-read. I LOVE the #0 issue. This is mostly due to Joe Quesada's amazing art. Also the tight storytelling versus VEI using the first three issues of the relaunch to tell the same story which was noticeable decompression at the time. As for #1-6, these haven't aged terribly well either. It's nowhere near as bad as Harbinger. Really, it's not bad at all. It's just not terribly interesting. Lots of confused barbarian and manipulative Ken for six issues becomes redundant.
Shadowman #1-3: This was an interestingly simplistic (and dark) start to what has grown into an incredibly convoluted character. The couple stories told here are real world, dark, and only make light references to super-heroics. The stories are well done and interesting despite their lack of world-building.
If you leave Harbinger out, the pre-Unity 90s Valiant really are some amazing reads. Stories that still hold up today and even feel fresh and innovative 25 years later.
Vintage Magnus #1-4 - Decent, relevant original content. Engaging enough.
Original Mangus, Original Solar, Original Turok - Generic reprint material that adds nothing to Valiant universe.
Magnus/Nexus - I had read these during my reading of the entire Nexus run. These are good, Silver Age homages that take place prior to Magnus #0. Very well produced fluff, but fluff.
Predator vs. Magnus - This seemed like a fun idea, but when they started with Magnus sympathizing with the Predator, the story completely lost me. Totally skipable.