Saturday, 19 November 2011

Valiant: 1962-1976

Valiant was the title of a British boys adventure comics anthology which ran from 1962 to 1976. It was published by IPC Magazines and was one of their major adventure titles throughout the 1960s and early 1970s.
Valiant and TV21, 2 Oct 1971 Valiant and TV21, 9 Oct 1971
Valiant and TV21, 27 Nov 1971 Valiant and TV21, 11 Mar 1972

The title went through a number of name changes and mergers, although eventually returning to its simpler one-word name. It merged with Knockout in 1963, Smash! in 1971, TV21 in 1972 and Lion in 1974.

After many years, Valiant began to seem old-fashioned when the first of a new type of comic was launched, the first issue of Battle Picture Weekly, in 1975. It suffered further when Pat Mills launched Action in February 1976. Attempts by John Wagner to update the title were initially successful, but it struggled to find a place in the market against these tougher adventure titles. Valiant limped on for a few months, but finally merged with Battle Picture Weekly in October 1976.

Valiant and TV21, 1 Jul 1972 Valiant and TV21, 30 Sep 1972

Valiant and TV21, 20 Jan 1973 Valiant and TV21, 14 Apr 1973

Valiant contained a mix of conventional war stories, such as Captain Hurricane, which was a humorous strip set in World War 11 about a massive ex-sea skipper who became a Captain in the Royal Marines, and who could be provoked into "ragin' fury" berserker rages which gave him great strength; classic humour strips, such as Billy Bunter and classic detective strips, such as Sexton Blake.

But it also had a number of innovative new heroes. In Kelly's Eye, for instance, Tim Kelly wore a jewel called the Eye of Zoltec (obtained from a Mayan idol) around his neck, which protected him from all harm, making him invulnerable. Adam Eterno (who originally appeared in Thunder) was thousands of years old, and could only be slain by a fatal blow from a weapon made of gold. The House of Dollman featured an inventor who constructed remote controlled "dolls", or puppets, with strange abilities, such as stretching, drilling, and vision powers, that helped him in his fight against crime.

Valiant and TV21, 19 May 1973 Valiant and TV21, 2 Jun 1973

Valiant and TV21, 21 Jul 1973 Valiant and TV21, 14 Jul 1973

The celebrated anti-hero, The Steel Claw, with his fantastic power of invisibility and the capability to electrocute his enemies, due to his body's ability to store electric current, would influence comic creators such as Alan Moore and David Lloyd. Mytek the Mighty, a giant robot ape, started out as a villain in the hands of a criminal, but eventually became a hero who battled other robots and giant creatures.

There was also a two-page text story titled Jason Hyde, about a character from whose eyes poured light blue rays (he normally wore dark sunglasses) that allowed him to see through things and read minds. He had many strange adventures: including deep inside the Earth; in another dimension; fighting giant spiders; and fighting a man with incredible powers.

The stories were well written, being mainly 2 or 3 pages long, and in black and white (apart from the coloured covers). Many of them continued week after week, with cliff-hanger endings.

Valiant and TV21, 13 Oct 1973 Valiant and TV21, 27 Oct 1973

Valiant and TV21, 1 Dec 1973 Valiant and TV21, 29 Dec 1973

Several of Valiant's characters have made appearances since the comic's cancellation. Alan Moore and Alan Davis used several (renamed) characters in their Captain Britain strip. Also, Quality Comics released a four issue mini-series of The Steel Claw in 1986, featuring recoloured reprint material, with new material drawn by Garry Leach that acted as a framing device. The Steel Claw and several of IPC's 1960s heroes were also featured in Zenith in 2000 AD , followed by a one-off special featuring old Valiant and IPC characters.

In 2005 many of IPC's characters were featured in a mini-series called Albion, published by the Wildstorm imprint of DC Comics and plotted by Alan Moore.

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