Jim Shooter, Bob Layton, and Steven J Massarsky decide to start a comic company in the early 90's called Valiant. Shooter is the head writer. They license properties from the defunct Gold Key Comics group (owned now by Random House) and use Magnus Robot Fighter, Dr. Solar, and Turok Dinosaur Hunter to jump start their line-up. Shooter is a good storyteller, but what helps make Valiant one of the big names in comics is how they embraced the speculator market, making variant covers (one, for Harbinger, only had a different color for the Harbinger logo) and offering special comics if retailers ordered so many of a title, enabling them to mark the prices up (things haven't changed, have they?). They ride this with the mainstream indie boom from Image and Dark Horse, and become a major player.
Still with me? That's good!
Infighting happens, and Shooter departs Valiant (did he jump or was he pushed? That depends on your interpretation). Valiant gets sold to Acclaim, which made a Turok Dinosaur Hunter video game and was looking to develop more comics as games (full disclosure -- I was in talks to write a revived ShadowMan comic series when Acclaim pulled the plug on their comics). Acclaim biffs it, and the comics go under. Rights for Magnus, Dr. Solar, and Turok revert to Random House. The properties owned by Acclaim like Harbinger sit around. Acclaim itself goes under, and starts selling off properties to raise money to pay debts.
Here's where it gets interesting. Valiant Entertainment Inc. bought the rights to a lot of the stuff during Acclaim's clearing house auction. They tried to get the rights to reprint the Gold Key stuff, and make more Magnus, Solar, and Turok stories. But the rights reverted to Random House, where they were licensed by Dark Horse. Dark Horse started reprinting the old Gold Key stuff. Valiant Entertainment Inc. wanted to reprint the stories they created, and wanted Shooter to write new stories for inclusion in the hard cover collections. During this time, Valiant Entertainment has to deal with the headaches created by Valiant Intellectual Properties, which filed for trademark ownership, claiming Acclaim never did it properly. VEI wins the lawsuit. Dark Horse then announces that, since it has the rights to the Gold Key stuff, they will be creating new stories. Oh, and this summer, they announced Shooter would be the writer -- seems he's parted ways with VEI. VEI is crying foul, and the lawsuits are flying now.
Sheesh, what a mess.