Robert Kirkman turned the concept of zombie storytelling on its ear with ‘The Walking Dead’ and brought a wry, fresh perspective to super heroes in ‘Invincible’.  It sounds as if he now wants to bring that same re-inventive touch to the supernatural, but he’s hit a stumbling block.

He’d originally announced plans to collaborate with artist Paul Azaceta on a title that Kirkman described as “a big, epic story that involves exorcism and demonic possession [that shines] a new light on that genre of horror-fiction.”

But Valiant Comics has bad news.  They apparently own the rights to the name “Outcast” thanks to a little known one-shot they published in 1995.  “The Outcast” written by Jesse Berdinka and drawn by Norm Breyfogle and involved an alien leaving his DNA in a primate and years later, that DNA being triggered in a descendant.

Earlier, BOOM! Entertainment announced a comic called ‘Outcast’, but after Valiant informed them, they owned the name, BOOM! changed their title to ‘Valen the Outcast’.

Comic Book Resources ran a lengthy article, going over the lengthy and convoluted copyright issues that could impact the legal matters at hand.  It’s a little bit over my head, to be honest, but the fact is that the original Valiant Comics, a subsidiary of Acclaim Entertainment, has had its properties bought and sold numerous times over the years, with some requiring regular refiling.

In other words, Valiant may not actually own the rights to “Outcast” after all.  So it remains to be seen if Image will push back and challenge Valiant’s ownership, or if they may choose to not make waves and simply change or modify their yet-unpublished supernatural series.  CBR suggested simply changing it to ‘Robert Kirkman’s Outcast’ which may actually help the book’s sales, since thanks to ‘The Walking Dead’ TV series, he has become one of the most visible names and faces in comics.

What do you think?  Valiant has been sitting on the name “Outcast” for sixteen years, thanks to a single comic book that pretty much no  one remembers.  But the law is the law and if they do indeed hold the rights to the title, what should Image do?

Sources THR and CBR