The most prominent of these loas (outside of the one attached to Shadowman) is Baron Samedi, the Loa of the Dead. Something of a macabre party animal, Samedi acts in his own interests and is constantly met with distrust from heroes despite the fact that he always seems to come through for them in the end. Really, he should have had his own comic series instead of Shadowman.
THE IMMORTAL BROTHERS
In the early days of civilization, there was a trio of brothers who constantly went on adventures together. Ivar Anni-Padda was a genius, Gilad Anni-Padda was a warrior, and Aram Anni-Padda was a humor-filled poet. One of their adventures involved them discovering a mystical artifact called the Boon. The same adventure led to the death of Gilad.
Distraught over Gilad’s death, Ivar quickly went mad and swore he could use the Boon’s power to resurrect his beloved brother. Aram didn’t like this idea and didn’t trust Ivar’s state of mind, so he attempted to stop him. The power of the Boon was unleashed and it had horrible, if complicated, effects on the three.
For one, the Boon sucked up the lifeforces of everyone within that chunk of the planet and inserted it all into Aram’s body. This caused him to become virtually immortal, like a video game character filled with countless life bars. The immortal Aram Anni-Padda later changed his name to Armstrong and continued to spend centuries partaking in drunken adventures, trying to distract him from the loneliness of a reality where his many friends grow old and die before him.
For his crimes, Ivar was captured and imprisoned by beings known as the Keepers of the Timeless Word. He spent thousands of years locked in the timestream, watching history play out. Eventually, he was freed by Armstrong’s partner Archer. Having a deep understanding of time rifts and historical details, Ivar took to mastering time travel. Granted, he isn’t actually immortal, but he does appear regularly through the centuries as he tries to redeem himself for his tragic actions.
Then there’s Gilad. For reasons that might not even be connected to the Boon incident, Gilad was indeed resurrected, but by the spirit of Earth itself. He was chosen to be the world’s Eternal Warrior. He will constantly rise from the dead throughout the ages while focusing his efforts on protecting and avenging the Geomancers. Geomancers are good-hearted mages who wield nature’s magic. Once one is killed, another is empowered in their place and Gilad has a new person to keep an eye on.
Even though they still bond from time to time, Gilad’s grizzled, duty-bound personality makes him the opposite of Armstrong’s levity-filled, hedonistic nature.
It was later revealed that there was another eternal sibling in their little sister Vexanna Anni-Padda. Known as the War-Monger, Vexanna is an agent of chaos and her very existence seems to cause wars to happen.
I’ve already mentioned shadowy conspiracy factions in the Vine and Project Rising Spirit. The hole goes even deeper as those two parties are merely part of an even BIGGER mega-conspiracy faction called the Sect. The Sect is made up of dozens of other shadow groups, some sillier than others, but usually tie into the usual types from this kind of trope (ie. Freemasons, religious groups, assassin guilds, the extremely rich, black helicopters). The more important sub-groups of the Sect include the One Perfect, the Null, Sisters of Perpetual Darkness, and the Dominion.
The Sect’s main target is Armstrong due to his exposure to the Boon and the potential of immortality that comes from imprisoning him.
The Dominion, an assassin guild run by hypocritical “Christian value” types, kidnapped a young and powerful psiot boy and brainwashed him into being loyal family member Obadiah Archer. Trained in nearly every fighting style, Archer was sent to go hunt down Armstrong. In the end, he realized that the Sect was the true enemy and a new, ridiculous friendship was forged.
Vexanna the War-Monger has been causing trouble for centuries and there’s always been some kind of team put together to temporarily take her out of the picture. These makeshift teams (including the World War I era group Unit-Y) would act as spiritual predecessors to Unity.
Originally co-created by Toyo Harada in order to bring down X-O Manowar, the team turned against the scheming psiot and continued to live on under GATE. As the Avengers/Justice League of Valiant, the main roster of the team is Livewire, X-O Manowar, Ninjak, Gilad the Eternal Warrior, and the giant space mech GIN-GR. The group went public after fighting off a devastating alien invasion, but Ninjak chose to keep his involvement off the books.
The age of Unity was finite, but it led to the four human members forging close bonds that outlasted the branding.
What is a superhero universe without its futuristic continuity? Marvel has 2099 and the original Guardians of the Galaxy. DC has Batman Beyond and the Legion of Superheroes. Valiant has 4001 AD, home of Rai and many others.
Rai had his own ongoing series that introduced the 4001 AD concept and how different the world would be so many centuries later. It showed the country of New Japan, depicted as a giant satellite containing a controlled population and what appeared – on the surface – to be a utopia. Run by a being known only as “Father,” the omnipresent ruler would keep order with his unbeatable peace officer Rai. Not only was Rai an evolved use of Bloodshot’s technology, but other aspects of his world have ties to various heroes and villains from present-day Valiant.
Actually, now that I think about it, imagine a gritty, cyber-punk version of Wall-E. That’s Rai.