High school, it’s tough for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re the smartest kid in school, the blonde hair, blue eyed jock, or the girl who can talk to machines, it’s tough. But when the faculty is made up of people like Dr, Mirage, Bloodshot, and Toyo Harada, you’re not going to just any school you’re going to VALIANT HIGH! Find out what your favorite Valiant heroes may have been like if they all got their powers in high school, in VALIANT HIGH #1 from Valiant Entertainment!
Writer: Daniel Kibblesmith
Artist/Cover: Derek Charm, David Baron
Variant Cover: Daniel Lafuente w/Brian Reber, Sina Grace
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Valiant High: War is on the horizon as the players in the Valiant Universe chose sides and prepare to battle…, oh wait, never mind, that’s in the regular Valiant Universe. In this aspect of the Valiant Universe, all of our characters are in high school, either as students or as faculty! Shouldn’t be too much going on there, right? I mean, it is not as if high school had any drama for the rest of us, am I right?
DEAR MR. KOTTER, PLEASE EXCUSE WOODY…
High school, for most of us it is either a time filled with either fond memories or tragic events. For Amanda McKee, aka Livewire, it seems to me a little more the latter. Our introduction to the world of Valiant High is through her eyes, and a familiar world it is. The student body incarcerated enrolled on the campus all seem to be super powered and populated with all the characters of the regular Valiant Universe, just in teenage form. Besides Livewire (a sophomore) we meet her best friend Faith Herbert (sophomore, Zephyr), star running back Aric Dacia (X-O, junior), Eric Henderson (Quantum, sophomore minus the Woody) and many other familiar faces. We even find the faculty made up of longtime Valiant characters, with the current Dr. Mirage (biology teacher), Coach Bloodshot (gym teacher), and Toyo Harada (principal).
It seems that besides all of the students at Valiant High are powered, and as such are required to wear badges that dampen those powers. In theory, this stops students from using their abilities accidentally or on purpose, be we learn pretty early on that it doesn’t exactly work for everyone. Enter, Peter Stanchek (not-cool-enough-for-a-code-name, sophomore). Those familiar with the current (and former) continuity of the Valiant Universe know that Stanchek is an Omega level Harbinger, Harbinger being the Valiant term for people with powers. This version seems to be attempting to hide his powers and not draw any attention to himself until his secret (he can override the badge) is discovered by new English-Japanese exchange student Colin King (no badge, no codename…yet). King has plans for Stanchek, but it’s unclear if it is going to be a high school make-over or the next installment of Carrie. Meanwhile, little Amanda discovers that sometimes dreams are just dreams, and can turn to nightmares rather quickly.
BUELLER… BUELLER… BUELLER…?
There is a lot going on in Valiant High #1, but Daniel Kibblesmith (Quantum and Woody, Santa’s Husband) manages it masterfully. He breaks down the high school archetypes we all know and assigns them to their various members of the Valiant Universe with excellent accuracy. One example is Coach Bloodshot, a perpetually shouting, ex-military man who is now a gym teacher. We do not see as much of him as I would like in this issue, but you just know that everyone lives in fear of failing to do a proper push-up during P.E. The always-cheery Zephyr, the best friend everyone hopes they deserve. Archer, the creepy new kid nobody can quite figure out. They all fit the basic heart of each character and seem to instantly make sense.
On art duties, Derek Charm (Jughead, Star Wars Adventures) brings the deceptively simple art he has become known for to the perfect subject matter. Every character is distinctive and has their own look, and callbacks to their “other” identities in the form of excellent fashion choices make even the casual reader smile. I normally do not pull out the “his art is reminiscent of” line, but here I need to: he calls back early Bruce Timm and even Jack Kirby work. He’s not afraid of using a big, bold line to accent a character’s face, or to set apart a particular element from the rest of the page. In truth, I would say there is more of a manga influence in his work, but I honestly am not well versed in that art style, and can only make a generalized observation. Regardless, the art is fresh and fun.
BOTTOM LINE: VALIANT HIGH #1 MAKES THE HONOR ROLL
The idea of placing well-loved characters in a new situation is what comics are all about; and in that aspect, Valiant High does well. What it excels at is taking the current storylines and making them fit so seamlessly into such a foreign venue. The whole issue could have easily turned into a mélange of stale ideas that have been through the ringer of time, but here, with multiple subplots and characters that you instantly like, it feels as fresh as a new box of crayons. I can’t wait to go to school again with the next issue!
Valiant High #1 gets straight A’s and should be assigned to your pull list now!