JAMES ASMUS Forces VALIANT's UNITY To 'Question What They've Become'

Valiant October 2015 cover
Credit: Valiant Entertainment
Credit: Valiant Entertainment

Valiant's team book Unity just recruited a new member -- and he's the mastermind behind the company's quirkiest duo.

Quantum & Woody writer James Asmus is taking over Unity for October's #23 and November's #24, and is diving straight into the team's heart with a storyline questioning their loyalty. It begins to break down when the largest and most powerful member of the team, GING-R, finds out one of his allies is being imprisoned and experimented on by the team's leaders.

Asmus, who'll be joined by Diego Bernado on art, talked with Newsarama about this guest arc on Unity and how he's seizing on the cracks in the foundation of Valiant's superhero team. The writer also discussed working with series writer Matt Kindt who returns for December's #25, and the possibility of Quantum and Woody (and a popular goat) showing up in this two-issue arc.

Credit: Diego Bernard (Valiant Entertainment)

Newsarama: James, first off: what led you to taking over Unity in October?

James Asmus: Valiant asked!  We’d been circling around for a while trying to find something else I might be a good fit to write for them – but I never imagined I’d get a chance to tackle their all-star Unity team! Matt Kindt has been doing an amazing job on the book, but has been prepping many, many other amazing things as well. It’s exciting and a delightful challenge to jump in and lead the book into the giant-issue #25 celebration!

Nrama: And what do you have planned for Unity with your two issues in October and November?

Asmus: I’ve been reading the book all along as a fan, and I knew Valiant uses their #25s as milestones and turning-point breaks for the characters. So with those things in mind, I wanted to bring back some dangling questions/teases/plot threads from early in the run and give them some pay-off, closure, and use it as a chance to force the team to question what Unity has become along the way. Every member of the team now, save for X-O Manowar, was introduced as an antagonist, if not outright villain.

Credit: Diego Bernard (Valiant Entertainment)

Now, part of what is so real-feeling and exciting about the Valiant U is the moral complexity of their characters. But I figured it was time to force the question of whose loyalty to the team can actually be trusted – and who might still be living in the grey…

Oh – and also, there’s gonna be some big, big action. This is Unity, after all!

Nrama: How's you come to evaluate the Unity team for your story here?

Credit: Diego Bernard (Valiant Entertainment)

Asmus: Well, like I said, I’ve been reading Unity (and pretty much the whole Valiant line) all along. I definitely had my take on the strengths – and more important to me – the weaknesses and conflicts the characters carry.  My interest was in doing a story that pushed their differences to the forefront, and to test the team that way.

Nrama: And this story between Quartz and GING-R?

Asmus: When you have a super-group assembled out of characters who had independent missions before Unity – the weight of those histories and those loyalties can’t be ignored. So even though GIN-GR seemed to make a 180 after "Armor Hunters" to start playing for the "good guys," how would she feel about her former teammate Quartz being held prisoner and experimented on by Unity’s handlers?

Credit: Diego Bernard (Valiant Entertainment)

Her history with Quartz and the Hunters ran much longer and deeper than her time with Unity after all…

Nrama: How does this arc fit in with the plans of previous series writer Matt Kindt?

Asmus: I pitched a few different concepts for what we could do with these issues, and the consensus came down that this was the tale they all wanted told. I made those pitches without knowing what Matt had in mind for anything going forward, but once this got the greenlight we talked about how to best connect the story to everything else past and present.

Credit: Diego Bernard (Valiant Entertainment)

That’s a huge benefit of Valiant keeping its line tight. They’re actually able to know everything that is and will be happening and how it can all connect (and where you can run free). It’s a big part of their intention as a company – you don’t need retcons, and every story carries real weight in the universe.

Nrama: Given you worked on Quantum & Woody, any chance of them showing up here?

Asmus: There was definitely a moment where I debated trolling the Unity fans by having those guys in the first few preview pages, just to see everyone worry I was about to upend their epic action book. But my actual storytelling impulses won out, and I really wanted to use those pages to get more time with Unity’s actual cast.

Credit: Valiant Entertainment

That said: who knows what changes Unity #25 might bring! Unity might have a hole in their line-up after these issues… and who couldn’t use a super-powered goat?!

Nrama: I'm told your stint on Unity is only two issues, but is there more you want to do at Valiant?

Asmus: Absolutely! Valiant’s patient, quality-driven approach to development means that, by the time a book is coming out, I don’t have to second guess myself as to whether it’s good or not. Everyone who works on the books, from Dinesh to Warren to Alejandro and the other editors, know how to pick their creators and the stories they’ll tell best. And then they put in the real work to make sure everyone finds the best choices.

There are a handful of other projects we’ve been developing, as well as some more (big) stories planned for Quantum and Woody. Especially after they accidentally kill Ninj—aaah… I probably shouldn’t spoil it just yet…

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