Designated by color rather than issue numbers (namely Yellow, Blue, Black, and Red) plus two book-end issues, Deathmate Prologue and Deathmate Epilogue, as well as Preview issues collected with comic products, the four main issues were written so they could be read in any order. Created at the peak of the comic book speculator boom, the project was heavily promoted and sold hundreds of thousands of copies, but was beset with production delays.
The Image half (Black, Red, and Epilogue) came out severely behind schedule and out of sequence. Deathmate Red shipped after the epilogue issue, and despite cover dates of September 1993 to February 1994, the actual publication lag was far longer than six months.
The plot evolved around a chance interdimensional meeting of two characters, Solar from Valiant and Void from Image's WildC.A.T.s. The two became lovers, but their joining would mean the destruction of both comic book universes.
It is notable that only half of the Image founding members chose to take part. Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino, and Todd McFarlane were not involved, although McFarlane's character Al Simmons makes a brief appearance in Deathmate Red.
In my personal opinion yellow, blue and the prologue had a more cohesive story. Where the image characters had a better integration into the valiant universe's history. Case in point brigade's characters worked for Harada Industries, an X men derived group.
Besides being delayed black and red's stories definitely had a rushed feel to the story. In black we see the Top Cow studio take front and center with ties to Wildcats and Gen 13. X O makes an appearance, but he is used more like a power hungry military general than a visigoth with an alien suit of armor.
Union , an energy based alien creature is the one character from black that allows this story to connect to the epilogue.
Red's story, sadly for me, is just a Rob Liefeld sketchbook. The story is about Youngblood in this new universe the biggest addition is that Bloodshot is a member. While the Prophet is poorly used as a plot point to let the heroes know what is wrong with this amalgamation of a world.
Red was so far delayed that it was released after the epilogue issue.
Epilogue centers more around the events from blue with Solar, supreme, and Darque.
This series had a great germ of an idea, but it missed the boat with the creative teams. If it had some editorial oversight for both companies it might have had a chance at being a success. However, with egos, missed deadlines, and perhaps the lack of experience from portions of the owners with the business side of things it went down as a failure.
For me , I liked parts of the story and going back and rereading the story with a more mature eye I can see what drew me to the story.
1 The crossover was something rarely seen between two independent comic groups.
2 Deathmate had the rock and roll comic artists
3 Although Valiant at the beginning wasn't flashy, they had a good set of storytellers and a well thought-out and connected universe. I was hoping that it would influence the Image books.
4 Finally the book introduced me to more “up and coming'' creators. Like Joe Q and Jeff Matsuda.
Facts about publication sales:
The Valiant Deathmate books (Prologue, Blue, and Yellow) had print runs of over 700,000 copies, but by the time Deathmate Red was released, it had a print run of 250,000, although retailers were nonetheless left with many unsold copies. At the time, comic book distributors would only allow unsold books to be returned if they were six months late.
Valiant Comics Notes:
In 1988, former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics Jim Shooter, Steven J. Massarsky and a group of investors attempted to purchase Marvel Entertainment. They submitted the second-highest bid, with financier Ronald Perelman submitting the highest bid and acquiring Marvel. Shooter and Massarsky instead formed Voyager Communications in 1989 with significant venture capital financing from Triumph Capital. Valiant (an imprint of Voyager Communications) recruited numerous writers and artists from Marvel, including Barry Windsor-Smith and Bob Layton, and launched an interconnected line of superhero comics featuring a mixture of characters licensed from Western Publishing and original creations.
1993 Valiant won Best Publisher over 5% Market Share, becoming the first publisher outside of Marvel and DC to do so.
Valiant also engaged in several comic book-marketing innovations common in the 1990s, such as issue zero "origin" issues, the gold logo program, coupons redeemable for original comic books, and chromium covers. Following the conclusion of the "Unity" crossover in September 1992, Valiant released Bloodshot, Ninjak, H.A.R.D. Corps, The Second Life of Dr. Mirage, and Timewalker, among other titles.
Turok #1 (VALIANT) - One of the top ten largest print runs in history, a runaway video game success that brought gamers into the fold, and the first real sign that comic properties were viable for licensing
Perhaps the biggest innovation was their use of continuity. The events in the comics almost always took place during the same time frame as publication with readers expecting one month time jumps between issues. There was the rare exception to this rule, such as two back-to-back issues covering the events of the same night. In this case, the narration box would date them — for example, both issues would be dated "December 12th, 1991" if the event began in a December issue released on the 12th. Another method they used took advantage of the more hard scifi setting, and had characters experience a jump forward of several months as a side effect of traveling faster than light. An event in one comic had immediate and lasting effects in another. Once an event happened, it was set in stone. RetCons never happened, and Comic-Book Time was averted. The Valiant universe was split into two time periods: the modern day, and the 41st century, with events in the former having effects on the latter. All in all, the formula worked, attracting many fans with its refreshing and unique style, and Valiant sold over 80 million comics in its first 5 years, becoming the third highest selling comic book company (after, of course, Marvel and DC)...
Magnus Robot fighter Cover Date:, May '91
Artist Art Nichols and Writer Jim Shooter
By the year 4000, humanity has become dependent on robots. H8, the Robot Police chief of the civic sector of North Am, a continent-spanning mega-city, is damaged in a radiation accident. It seeks to promote the human dependency on robots and gradually impose totalitarian rule in the area under its control. Magnus was trained from infancy by 1A a self aware robot in an under-sea domed house, using advanced techniques, to become a skilled martial artist who could break steel with his bare hands. In addition, 1A equipped his charge with a device that would allow him to "hear" robot-to-robot radio communications.
1A, the Freewill robot mentor of Magnus and lover of Grandmother (whom he calls "Kimi").
Claiburne, President of North Am
Leeja Clane, Magnus's girlfriend and future wife
Love how Valiant kept the 60s art style and concepts
Fan of Isaac Asimov Irobot, Magnus is heavily influenced by Asimov.
Turok Dinosaur hunter Cover Date:, Jul '93
He first appeared in Four Color Comics #596 (October/November 1954). After a second Four Color appearance (#656 October 1955), the character graduated to his own title – Turok, Son of Stone (#3 March–May 1956) — published by both Dell and then Gold Key Comics from 1956 to 1982.
Writer David Michelinie Art Bart Sears
Cover Date: Mar '92
In his original incarnation, Rai is the spirit guardian that protects the nation of Japan in the 41st century. It is a mantle that is usually passed down from father to son through the generations, with some exceptions. As such, the series chronicled a number of protagonists.
By the year 4001, industrialization in Japan had begun to consume every square inch of free space within the island nation's borders. To house and feed its growing population, the country had built upon its own infrastructure centuries before, turning the whole of Japan into a towering pillar, hundreds of miles wide. Eventually, the nation detached from Earth entirely, and now orbits the planet.
Governed by a mysterious yet benevolent artificial intelligence named Father, the Japan of 4001 is divided into various sectors, with names derived from the time of founding, and generally separated among the lines of economic status and social class. Where a citizen's sector falls in the literal hierarchy of Japan's many sectors also directly affirms their social ranking; the closer you are to the Earth, the less essential you are.
Part of the magnus Robot Fighter Universe
I like how they were able to take an Obscure mention in Magnus and make an entire universe