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Valiant

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Valiant1966

Cover art from 1966

Valiant was a weekly boys' adventure comic published by Fleetway, later IPC, from 1962 to 1976. It absorbed Knock-Out in 1963, Smash! in 1971, TV21 in 1972, Lion in 1974 and Vulcan in April 1976, and merged into Battle Picture Weekly in October 1976.

It contained a mix of conventional war stories, such as "Captain Hurricane", which was a 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 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" 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.

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.

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.

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