by Thegreatmagnet on May 02, 2017

Writer: Daniel Kibblesmith
Artist: Derek Charm
Color Art: Davis Baron
Publisher: Comixology (technically)

Valiant High is an interesting project. It’s a digital exclusive published by Comixology, rather than by Valiant proper, and it’s completely removed from the company’s overarching continuity. The characters are all drastically re-imagined in the context of a high school for kids with powers, and it’s closer in tone to what I imagine an Archie book to be like (I admit I have not actually really read any Archie comics). The lack of connection turns off many hardcore Valiant readers, but I find it to be a very fun and refreshing elseworld take on these characters.
The first two issues of the mini-series spent a lot of time introducing the reimagined characters and explaining the general premise, while hinting at a few mysterious elements: who is the “shadowy” janitor, and how could Gilad and Armstrong have been students at the school for as long as anyone remembers. The latest issue really pays off these mysteries and hopefully sets the stage for a climactic conclusion in the next issue. However, the series is equally driven by more grounded high school storylines that wouldn’t be out of place in teen dramas: crushes, jealousy, struggling to fit in, and the politics of Homecoming court. These more mundane storylines are well done and they make me care about the characters, despite being far removed from my high school days. It’s impressive that the series can juggle so many narrative threads, while also delivering a barrage of truly funny jokes.
I feel that the most compelling aspect of the series is seeing the way that the characters have been re-imagined. The majority of the makeovers are spot-on, even if they’ve taken some interesting liberties with some of the characters. For instance, Livewire and Faith are written here as besties, and they have a very touching moment in this issue, but the two characters are not truly friends in the main continuity, and they are not the same age. However, pairing the two characters in this series makes sense, and it certainly opens the door for a similar relationship at some point in the main continuity. My favorite moment in this issue is the reveal of Gin-Gr and Divinity, who were heretofore not teased or mentioned in the series or any of the promotions. I’m holding out hope that we might get some additional surprises in the final issue of the series. Admittedly, I wonder if new readers will get as much enjoyment from this series as longtime fans, who have much greater context for the characters. I would love to know if the series is reaching new readers, and if they are motivated to check out other Valiant offerings.
Artwise, this issue executes well for what it is trying to achieve. Derek Charm has worked on Jughead, so the Archie comparison seems apt. However, there is a sensibility in the art that suggest the superhero genre, and the action pages with the football ghosts came across well. I also think that Livewire’s design looks awesome in every panel. Colors by David Baron are exceptional, as always. It's obviously very stylized and cartoony, but the color flexes its muscles from time to time (such as Gin-Gr's appearance).
I’d recommend this book to hardcore Valiant fans, who are always hungry for more content and who to have are not afraid to have a little fun. The story doesn’t add anything to the main continuity, so it’s really just a fun chance to play around with these characters in a much different environment with no lasting consequences. I would welcome more similar elseworld stories with these characters. I’m not sure if I would recommend this book to anyone who is unfamiliar with the characters, or any hardcore fans that can’t handle deviations from canon. It’s not a book for everyone.

Our Score:


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