I’ve been reading Valiant comics for some years now and I’m always trying to get others into their comics. I love superheroes. I grew up on the X-Men and Justice League animated series’, and I was 14 when the Marvel Cinematic Universe started. But, I always think it’s good to expand your horizons, and that’s exactly why I started reading Valiant Comics. I began with Robert Venditti’s XO Manowar and was hooked from the start. After that, I began looking up other heroes and runs in the universe and wanted to learn everything about this chaotic universe. The Valiant Universe has diverse heroes, complex characters, and the company is dedicated to crisp storytelling. Today, I want to help those who want to get started on their Valiant journey. There are a plethora of good titles and it may seem daunting at first. But just like starting anything, the most important step is starting in the first place, and letting yourself be open to new experiences.
Why this list? Why now? Well, Valiant is currently in the middle of their biggest comic book event of all time. Harbinger Wars 2 is the event, and it’s been a long time coming. Each side has some stake in the outcome of the event and by the end of this, the Valiant Universe won’t be the same. It’s a Valiant’s fan dream come to life, but I think that everyone should experience it. You won’t catch up to Harbinger Wars 2 overnight, and that’s okay. Savor the journey, embrace it. Each comic I’m going to mention involves the key players in Harbinger Wars 2 and you’ll find yourself enjoying the event more if you read these stories. First up, is the original Harbinger series.
Written by Joshua Dysart, Art by Khari Evans and Various Artists
The Harbinger series is one of the backbones of the Valiant Universe. One could even argue that it is the backbone of the Valiant Universe. This is where this long arc, that leads up to Harbinger Wars 2, starts. The story is about a young man named Peter Stancheck. He’s what they call a psiot. Peter is one of the world’s most powerful psiots, and the story starts with him on the run. He’s a drug addict and has no one who cares about him or his powers. Well, that last bit isn’t true. Toyo Harada is a billionaire philanthropist who is also a powerful psiot and he wants Peter to join his secret Harbinger Foundation. That’s all I’m going to say, but this story gives off huge X-Men vibes. But, just like the classic X-Men stories, the characters make this run special. Here, you meet Livewire, Torque, Faith, Flamingo, and many more characters who will become important later in the series.
Written by Joshua Dysart, Art by Khari Evans and Various Artists
Harbinger Wars 2 implies there was a number one, right? Well, you are correct. This was Valiant’s first crossover in their new and improved universe, and it was a doozy. It takes place in the middle of the Harbinger series and it also crosses over with Bloodshot. I don’t think reading Bloodshot’s early stuff is critical here, because they do a good job of letting you know how he fits into the story. The effects of the first Harbinger Wars are still being felt in the Valiant Universe. When this event starts, it doesn’t stop. It’s still one of the most action-packed comics Valiant has ever put out, and one of my personal favorites.
I think it’s fairly obvious, but after Harbinger Wars, you should finish the Harbinger run. It’s almost better after Harbinger Wars. The “Death of a Renegade” arc is still one of Valiant’s most important and powerful stories they’ve ever done.
Written by Matt Kindt, Art by Doug Braithwaite.
Matt Kindt is in my Hall of Fame when it comes to comic book writers. This was the first thing he ever did for Valiant Comics. Here, you’ll meet the powerhouses that make the Valiant Universe shake with fear. Whether you think of them as Valiant’s version of the Justice League or Avengers, make sure you call them by their name, Unity. Boasting a team that consists of The Eternal Warrior, Livewire, Ninjak, XO Manowar, and Toyo Harada, this comic is where you’ll see the star of Harbinger Wars 2, Livewire, get some development alongside her appearing in the Harbinger title. This comic has crazy action, alien invasions and beautiful art. Here, Livewire began to establish herself as a leader. After this run, it was clear that Livewire was a superstar in the making and one of the most powerful people in the Valiant Universe.
Bloodshot Reborn/Bloodshot Salvation
Written by Jeff Lemire, Art by Mico Suayan and Various Artists
I didn’t include Bloodshot’s early stuff because it intersects so closely with the Harbinger series. You can get the general feel of the character from Harbinger Wars. In Bloodshot Reborn however, Jeff Lemire put his stamp on the character forever. This run will help you understand every aspect of Bloodshot’s character and the story will keep you hooked as well. Not to mention the art by Suayan is amazing and gives the comic a cinematic feel. Lemire’s Bloodshot run continues in Bloodshot Salvation, which ends later this year. Bloodshot is in Harbinger Wars 2 as well, and while Bloodshot Reborn and Salvation isn’t connected to Harbinger or the larger Valiant Universe, it’s a great character-building run that’ll make you a Bloodshot fan for life.
Written by Rafer Roberts, Art by Darick Robertson and Juan Jose Ryp
The cool thing about the Valiant Universe is that continuity matters. In the Harbinger series, it’s all about evolution and growth. The first Harbinger series is about Peter and the rest of the psiots finding their place in the world. Some big things happen in that series, and Harbinger Renegade shifts the focus to the rest of the world dealing with psiots. Here, the fan-favorite Renegades are back and the action and adventure is just as insane as before. This series is also when the seeds start to be planted for Harbinger Wars 2.
Written by Matt Kindt, Art by Tomas Giorello and Various Artists.
Just like with Bloodshot, you don’t necessarily need to read Venditti’s early XO Manowar comics to understand Harbinger Wars 2. You can get your XO fill during Unity. But, I do recommend reading Matt Kindt’s current run of XO Manowar. It’s currently on issue 15 and they’ve reached the tie-in phase with Harbinger Wars 2. In the 14 issues before that, Kindt deconstructed the Visigoth prince. The story starts with him on a distant planet called Gorin and he’s sworn off using his armor for some reason. Over the course of the story, you do eventually learn why he left Earth though. This run is important because Aric goes through more than he ever has before and grows immensely during his time on Gorin. And those things he goes through help him choose what side to fight on during Harbinger Wars 2.
Written by Eric Heisserer, Art by Raul Allen and Patricia Martin
Matt Kindt’s Divinity is my favorite Valiant comic of all time. You don’t have to read that to understand Harbinger, but it’s the birth of cosmic Valiant. What type of fan would I be if I didn’t mention it) but Secret Weapons is it’s best. Written by famed screenwriter, Eric Heisserer, this story reads somewhat like a movie script. Once again, Valiant showed a commitment to character development and this is the series that pushes Livewire into the spotlight. At the beginning of the Harbinger series, she’s a somewhat one-dimensional enforcer for Toyo Harada. Over the years, her empathy grew and so did her powers. Secret Weapons is the culmination of her development as a character. She leads her own team, and the events of this comic directly influence her actions in Harbinger Wars 2. I mentioned that after Harbinger Renegade, we see how the world adjusts to psiots. This is a continuation of those themes. And you add the detailed, colorful art from Raul Allen and Patricia Martin, and you have Valiant’s best comic to date.
Harbinger Wars 2 is, like I said, a Valiant fan’s dream. Witnessing the growth of Livewire, XO Manowar, the Renegades, and Bloodshot has been amazing. Harbinger Wars 2 starts off with Livewire shutting down the power across the entire United States (yeah, she’s that strong) so a clear line in the sand has been drawn. If the first issue is any indication, you don’t want to miss this event. I hope this reading list is helpful to those who want to catch up on Valiant. If this doesn’t sound like your thing, Valiant has other heroes that don’t connect with these ones. There’s the comical team of Quantum and Woody, the mystic known as Shadowman, and the adventurous duo of Archer and Armstrong. And I already mentioned my favorite, which is Divinity, a story of epic proportions that broadened the scope of the Valiant Universe.
There’s no better time than the present to jump on board with this universe. Valiant just recently announced “Valiant Beyond” which seems like it’ll be the next step forward with four new titles releasing this and next year. Harbigner Wars 2 appears to mark the end of this long, extended journey Valiant has taken us on, and I’m excited to see how it ends. I hope new readers will join me, and others, as we celebrate the greatness that is Valiant Comics.
“His name is Toren Chenault but he goes by Raymond X. He’s currently a student attending Michigan State University from where he will graduate this spring. He loves all things nerd culture from television to comics and his favorite heroes are Daredevil, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Nighthawk, and Captain Atom. Toren is a writer as well, and his debut superhero novel, Mystic Man, will be released this year.