Written By: Daniel Kibblesmith
Artist: Derek Charm
Colorist: David Baron
Lettering By: Simon Bowland
Cover by: David Lafuente
Published By: Valiant Comics
For most people, high school wasn’t nearly as bad or nearly as good as they remember it. I feel much the same about this first issue of Valiant High: it could have been way worse and could have been better.
The start of this short series introduces some of the most famous characters of the expansive Valiant Universe existing in a typical high school culture, either as students or staff. The premise sounds hilarious and fun, but the story falls short from jump. Everything is too typical of high school culture (or at least high school culture as it’s usually portrayed in fiction), from the dialogue to the drama. The characters are too stereotypical and the situations are predictable. However, the art is endearing, if a little plain, and the book was enjoyable, if not impressive.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not super knowledgeable about every Valiant character, but the books I have read are generally smartly written, creative tales with complex protagonists and interesting conflicts. Even though this series is supposed to be a brief and entertaining read, it would have benefitted from keeping some of those same qualities. How cool would it be if we were surprised by the roles that some of these heroes took? As they are, it doesn’t feel all that imaginative to have them fit so neatly into the teenage archetypes. There was plenty of space in many of the panels for Easter eggs of all sorts to pop up in the backgrounds, not just the few that were there. Longtime Valiant fans could have had a blast finding all the jokes. While there were some funny lines and scenes every now and then, it definitely had the potential for many more laughs.
It would be okay to use this book as an introduction to Valiant if you haven’t read any of the other books in the universe, even though it will be more meaningful if you know most of the characters. If you don’t love it, though, please don’t let it influence your future decisions about Valiant, which really has an outstanding variety of comics in its repertoire. Overall, I liked the idea of Valiant High more than the execution, but I will be checking in for the second issue because it’s somewhat charming and I’d like to see more of the gang regardless.