In the old Valiant Universe, “Unity” was a major crossover that brought the line together. In the new Valiant universe, Unity is the first team book in the history of the company, bringing super-powered characters together with one common goal: taking down X-O Manowar.
Well, of course that means that Aric, the bearer of the alien armor, has his own perspective on what this team is doing.
As Aric re-establishes his lost kingdom of Dacia and begins to fight back, his story will unfold both in Unity and in X-O Manowar. The first writer of the new Valiant Universe, Robert Venditti, tells us exactly how the two stories will interact, what Aric thinks of each member of the Unity squad, and which member he has a very specific – and very long – history with. Oh, and he brought along an exclusive preview of X-O Manowar #16 for good measure.
Newsarama: Robert, you've been an architect of the Valiant Universe from the start. Why was it important to YOU to have X-O and yourself be involved with the start of Unity, the first super team book there?
RobertVenditti: More than what it means for me personally, I’m pleased that having Unity spin out of events in X-O Manowar means Aric of Dacia is further cemented as a character of significance in the Valiant Universe. As you say, I’ve been with Aric since the beginning, so whenever the time comes that I do step away from the book — which I don’t anticipate happening any time soon — I want to leave the series in a place that will ensure its legacy. That’s something I’d always be proud of.
Nrama: With the Unity team coming together with the specific goal of taking down X-O, will your concurrent arc be a direct crossover, two sides to the same story – how will that structure work?
Venditti: In a sense, it will be two sides to the same story. But both books will stand independently of each other. If you read X-O Manowar, Aric will be the hero, and Unity the villains. If you read Unity, it’ll be the reverse. Each book will tell the complete story from the perspective of its protagonists.
Nrama: Aric's foes here – most have fought him already in some capacity – and not faired too well. Let's start with Toyo (and as such Livewire) - Toyo Harada seems to make this "Superteam" seem a little less heroic – what is his personal stake in taking down Aric, and how does Aric view him in this world?
Venditti: Aric has fought Ninjak in the past, and he’s about to fight Eternal Warrior in X-O Manowar #16 — with bone splintering results. He hasn’t yet encounter Toyo Harada or Livewire, though. As such, Aric has no opinion of either of them.
From Harada’s perspective, however, Aric is an extremely destabilizing threat to world order. As a child who experienced the nuclear bombing of Japan, Harada is acutely aware of the damage that can be wreaked when someone possesses weaponry that’s vastly more destructive than what’s in everyone else’s arsenal. He’ll do what he must to prevent such imbalances from occurring again.
Nrama: Moving over to Ninjak, who Aric has had a more direct relationship with, they seemed to actually work pretty well together. Does having a past as allies (at least of a sort) ever cause Aric to hesitate at all, or is he too much of a warrior for that sort of thing?
Venditti: Aric is only trying to reclaim his ancestral homeland. The small glitch is that it’s in present-day Romania. But from his point of view, it’ll be the Unity team that draws first blood. Once that happens, all friendships are put on hold.
Nrama: As for Eternal Warrior, it's clear these two are born to fight and fight and fight. How much of a threat does Aric really see Gilad as? Is there any level of kinship there in being warriors out of their own heyday?
Venditti: As we’ll see in X-O Manowar #16, Aric and Gilad’s relationship goes back sixteen centuries to when Gilad was Aric’s mentor and advisor to Aric’s uncle, the Visigoth king. So in some ways, Gilad taught Aric everything he knows—or at least everything Aric was willing to learn. The difference is that Aric skipped over those sixteen centuries, while Gilad lived each and every day of them. More than anything, it’s the gap in their respective wisdoms that separates them.
Nrama: It's interesting to have this warrior who has this weapon so advanced it could be the future of humanity so desperately clinging to his past in creating Dacia. What does that say about Aric's mental state and how he thinks about the nature of power?
Venditti: Aric doesn’t see himself as clinging to the past. In his mind, this is still his present. He’s only a handful of years removed from Easter Sunday in 402 A.D., the day he was kidnapped by the Vine and his journey among the stars began. Everything he does is a direct result of his worldview, which is completely consistent with a 5th Century Visigoth who grew up under the heel of Roman power. The strongest one wins. Period.
Nrama: You're welcoming Cary Nord back, and that makes me think we're going to see massive armies again (because you can't have Nord without making him draw massive armies, right?) What do you see as some of Cary's strengths that you're focusing this reunion arc to?
Venditti: Everything is Cary’s strength! Look at something like X-O Manowar #1. In that one issue, he drew Visigoth warriors, Roman legionnaires, aliens, spaceships, sword fights and laser battles. If there’s something he can’t draw, I don’t know what it is. But to answer the question, yes, the “Unity” arc will have battling armies and all the grand scale the series has become known for.
Nrama: And you're helping welcome writer Matt Kindt into the Valiant Universe here – how closely are you working with him on his entry, and what specific advice did you pass to him about coming into these books and characters?
Venditti: Matt and I go back a long time. He’s a super-talented writer, and there isn’t anything I could tell him that he doesn’t already know.
We’re working pretty closely on coordinating the two books, but when it comes to the individual storylines, we’re fairly independent of each other. I think that contributes to the overall feel we’re going for, which is to have the two stories told from their own perspectives.
Nrama: Give us one specific tease to close it off, Robert – something you're really excited for people to see in your tie-in story to X-O Manowar, whether it's a particular match-up, some underlying story/theme, anything.
Venditti: At the moment, something I’m really looking forward to is the opening 8 pages of X-O Manowar #17. It’s one of my favorite sequences in the series to date, and Lee Garbett has done an amazing job bringing it to the page. It’ll show why Dacia is so important to Aric, and why everything that has happened in the series so far has led to Unity.