I’ve been a big advocate of Valiant since their relaunch in 2012. From comedy to sci-fi, action to the supernatural, they’re a publisher that has every base covered. For the last eight years they’ve offered up a compact and easy to access superhero universe that has never shied away from trying new things.
Opening with scenes of seemingly the entire Valiant universe led by our eponymous hero in an epic battle against the mysterious Hadrian, Doctor Tomorrow wastes no time getting down to the action. After what appears to be a victory for Hadrian, we cut away to Bart Simms and his friend Gretchen playing baseball and running through physics questions for a high school test. At least until their day takes an unlikely turn.
Doctor Tomorrow is a brand new character in the Valiant universe, and this issue throws a few curve balls. The nonlinear storytelling on display is used to showcase the time travel that lies at the heart of the story to come with the introduction of Bart’s future self, Doctor Tomorrow and the revelation that if the young Bart Simms plays his cards right he’ll become both an astrophysicist and a superhero.
Alejandro Arbona presents an interesting and well written premise, one that has a noticeable DC Comics vibe. Although there are a couple of great time travellers in the Valiant universe, it does feel like Doctor Tomorrow owes at least something to DC characters like Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) and Bart Allen. But that is by no means a bad thing — they’re two incredible and well celebrated characters, after all. I feel that Bart Simms fills a noticeable gap within Valiant’s cast of characters — even with the Renegades and Archer as recurring characters, they’ve always felt like much older teenagers than Bart is, and shouldn’t every superhero universe have its teenage icons?
Throughout the issue, Jim Towe’s artwork captures both the big fight feel of the opening pages and the more down-to-Earth scenes that follow to equal effect, showing great range as the story progresses. My only criticism would be that at times it feels like some facial expressions and three-quarter profiles in particular could be more refined.
Valiant has a bit of a mixed record when it comes to new characters. Characters like Savage, Deathmate and Generation Zero have seemingly fallen by the wayside when it seemed like the perfect opportunity to further their stories; whereas titles such as Divinity and Britannia have flourished. Let’s hope that Doctor Tomorrow is a title that garners the praise it deserves and has a promising future within the Valiant universe.