For many years Valiant Comics has carved out a strong, carefully crafted universe that is as compellling as any other comic book universe. With the exception of the immensely popular historical fiction title Britannia, and a few others, the majority of Valiant's line fits into the superhero and supernatural genres, but SYFY WIRE can exclusively reveal that early this year Valiant Comics will be launching its first crime noir title called Final Witness.
The cast is comprised of four lead characters who are brought together to solve a murder: a detective (see bottom image, between Quantum & Woody and Bloodshot) with a police force that is front and center, an investigative journalist looking for the truth who understands that what we see might not be real, an arsonist and a new superhero, whose origin is tied to the arrival of a villain.
Final Witness will start out as a five-issue mini-series but there are more plans in store for this corner of the Valiant Universe. And Valiant's having a little fun with the launch. The publisher has yet to reveal the identity of the creators, which will remain a mystery, for now, as well as the identity of the victim on the promo image, which is missing an important body part...
Spearheaded by editor Heather Antos, Final Witness is a passion project described as Zodiac meets True Detective meets superheroes. She found this an opportune time explore and develop another corner in the Valiant universe as there is plenty of undiscovered country in this young universe.
"This was a perfect opportunity to do that, meet new characters and different types of people and see how they cope with superheroed crime in a grounded way. San Francisco is a city we haven't explored much in Valiant and for anyone who has knowledge in true crime, knows that it's a city with a colorful past."
Since Valiant was being a bit cheeky with the identity of the creators, Antos did say she's been trying to find a project with both the mystery writer and artist for years, and when her idea for the series came up, she knew who her first choices were. "I wanted someone who had a strong understanding of pacing and tension, which make murder mysteries work, and we want the art to capture that gritty, real world vibe. If you're a fan of the stories that happen in Gotham, then you'll be interested in what we're doing here."
Most comics tell the story of a lead character, but in the Final Witness, the biggest story is the mystery that unfolds as well as the reading experience itself. "I want readers to ask, who is the final witness?" posed Antos. "Because it might not be the new superhero, it might not be the arsonist, or the detective."
"To witness something is to mean you observed something worth remembering, something worth taking account of. Who is that? Is that one of these characters or is that you, the reader? What does it mean to be that witness? There's something powerful in that we're having a lot of fun with behind the scenes."
From television shows, to podcasts, to movies, crime stories are infiltrating all of our entertainment mediums. Antos noted we are in the golden age of true crime and it's relevant in the cultural zeitgeist, which means that a lot of questions can be asked and explored through fiction.
"The definition of crime is relative to who you are as a person, it's relative to your government, it's relative to your interpersonal relationships," Antos explained. "What is a crime to me, might be okay to you. What's illegal in the United States, might be legal in France. From a social commentary perspective that's very fascinating. I love the philsophy behind that, of ethics, what is ethical?" These are questions that can't always be explored in superhero comics as well as they can in crime noir, which has a rich history in comics as well.
With each issue, readers will gain new clues and new characters to help solve the mystery, doing special variants that unlocks a specific clue. Additionally, as with every pre-order Valiant bundle variant (where you must tell your retailer that you want to pre-order the entire series), there will be supplemental behind-the-scenes pages. The inserted bonus pages for the Final Witness pre-order variant will open up more of the crime and investigative world of Valiant.
Since many Valiant titles are tied closely together, whether it's the mention of blood nanites or some greater connection to the legacy of Toyo Harada, Antos' goal was to keep Final Witness new reader friendly. " I want to keep this feeling fresh but also retain that Valiant feel without a Bloodshot or Ninjak carrying the line. A lot of the themes in the Valiant core titles are brotherhood and the responsibility of power and Final Witness will have that, but it's important that our new cast of characters are able to stand on their own before we introduce our bigger characters from the line. However, that's not to say that there aren't plans for very prominent forces in the greater Valiant universe later in the story."
Look for the big Valiant mystery to unfold in early 2020.