Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Archie and the Riverdale gang met the Valiant Universe? Yeah, me neither. So don’t beat yourself up about it. In fact, on the surface, this sounds like a book I wouldn’t even enjoy. That was until I got the pleasure of reading Valiant High. Valiant’s new online limited series, exclusive on Comixology.
In this series, writer Daniel Kibblesmith takes the entire Valiant roster back to high school in an alternate, disjoint, universe. He follows around Amanda Mckee (a.k.a. Livewire) as she goes through the hardships of all things puberty: alienation, fighting, jealousy, self-doubts, etc… Which was beautifully rendered by the line artist Derek Charm, who did an absolutely outstanding job re-imagining each character to their teenage form. Not to mention the work provided by the colorist David Baron. His breadth of talent is stunning.
As I said, this book is completely disconnected from the master universe at large, which means that Daniel had a lot of creative freedom to work with. However, instead of just taking these characters we all know and love and only using their name, he worked really hard on respecting the entire cast’s voice; whether hinting towards past arcs or prior relationships, Daniel kept each character’s personality throughout all of his dialogue. This shows that not only is he a Valiant fan, but that he is tremendously talented with his scripts. Daniel has been a master of pacing for both of these issues, bouncing flawlessly between character to character and subplot to subplot. One subplot in particular that I am now obsessed with is the relationship between Faith, Livewire, and Flamingo, and this is NOT just because I miss Charlene. Oh! And his reference to Shadowman is very clever.
Speaking of clever, Derek also has his own easter eggs that he has been tossing in here and there. Every now and then, in the backgrounds, you can see that he also is a Valiant fan. For instance, the football team poster saying “Let’s Go Man-o-Wars!”. Classic. Derek has done such a great job interpreting Daniel’s scripts for this series so far. He doesn’t abuse the inks, and he keeps the panels flowing from one page to the next. Not a single scene is stagnating. All of his characters have such raw emotion; you can feel Peter as he is just trying to hide in the background, or the pain of Charlene as she pours her heart out to Faith. Other big kudos to Derek are his backgrounds. They are jam-packed with detail, it is simply beautiful.
Lastly is David’s colors. Now take what I say with a grain of salt as David is one of my personal idol’s, but this series really shows what this man is capable of. Just a couple of months ago he was crushing colors for Mico Suayan on Bloodshot, and before that, he was making some gorgeous work with Roberto de la Torre on Doctor Mirage. Both of these titles were completely different from one another, and so were his coloring styles. However, these were both more painterly techniques. Now, with Valiant High, he was able to switch gears completely and go full on animation. I have no clue how he did this, especially with the kind of quality he brought to this book, but I loved it!
I guess I can really say that about this whole series so far. I love it! Daniel has done an amazing job making something unique and fun over at Valiant, while still respecting the past creators. This was made easy with the help of some great talent from his co-creators Derek and David.
Written by Daniel Kibblesmith
Art by Derek Charm
Cover by David Lafuente