The cover of the Valiant annual of 1975.
|Publication date||April 1962 – October 1976|
|No. of issues||712|
|Written by||Scott Goodall|
The title went through a number of name changes and mergers, although always returning to its simpler one-word name. On 23 February 1963, it merged with Knockout, and later, with Smash! in 1971. It was briefly published for one week as "Valiant" again on 25 September 1971, then Valiant and TV21 on 2 October 1971. It merged with Lion on 25 May 1974, and with Vulcan on 10 April 1976.
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 on 23 October 1976.
In June 1963, Valiant brought out the first two (per month) issues of the digest sized "Valiant Picture Library" which featured stories which were nothing to do with the comic. They cost one shilling (5p) each.
On 19 March 2012, the Royal Mail launched a special stamp collection to celebrate Britain's rich comic book history. The collection featured Valiant, The Beano, The Dandy, Eagle, The Topper, Roy of the Rovers, Bunty, Buster, Twinkle and 2000 AD.
Valiant contained a mix of conventional war stories, such as Captain Hurricane from the first issue, which was a semi-humorous strip set in World War II 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 The Crows who were in almost all issues from the first issue, and The Nutts (Ginger Nutt, the teenage daughter only really had one panel in issue 3 because basically she was too good looking to be a figure of fun), also from the first issue, and Billy Bunter from issue 21; as well as classic detective strips, such as Sexton Blake.
But it also had a number of innovative new heroes. In Kelly's Eye from issue 21, 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 Dolmann 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. Jack o'Justice from the first issue, always accompanied by his girlfriend and eventual wife Moll Moonlight, was a swashbuckling 18th century adventurer who fought criminals, the supernatural and monsters; both Jack and Moll were experts with their swords and on horseback. In time, the Jack o'Justice stories ended and the series was replaced by Jack Justice, a contemporary crimefighting adventurer who was the direct descendant of Jack and Moll.
The celebrated anti-hero, The Steel Claw from the first issue, 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 from issue 104, started out as a villain in the hands of a criminal named Gogra, but eventually became a hero who battled other robots and giant creatures. In 104 also started Legge's Eleven, about a crazy team of footballers.
Issue 137 went from 28 to 40 pages for one penny more (to seven pence). It had a two to three page text story titled Jason Hyde about a mystery man from whose eyes poured blue rays (he normally wore special sunglasses) that allowed him to see through solid objects 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 super-powers. Also "Fort Navajo" with Mike Blueberry, from the Franco-Belgium comics.
Two new strips introduced by John Wagner in 1975 were Death Wish and One-Eyed Jack.
The stories were mainly 2 or 3 pages long, and in black and white (apart from the coloured covers). Many of them were atory arcs, which continued week after week, with cliff-hanger endings so you had to buy the next iussue to see how they escaped from dangerous or deadly situations.
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, the 2000 AD Action Special in 1992.
- History of Battle at sevenpennynightmare.co.uk Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- "Beano's Dennis the Menace on Royal Mail comic stamps". BBC News. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-19.
- Action Special at 2000ad.org (retrieved 29 June 2017)
- Valiant at 26pigs.com, a site for British comics