Fresh out of this past Friday’s “The Future of Valiant” Panel at New York Comic Con, Newsarama was able to speak with Valiant’s executive editor Warren Simons about the announcements made this past week. Everything was on the table, from the company’s first major event “Planet Death” in X-O Manowar to the choosing of a new Geomancer and the hiring of one of Marvel’s Young Guns — and yes, even talk of Quantum & Woody.
The publisher shared with us the full grouping of art they showcased from the panel, and included several images exclusive to Newsarama including Trevor Hairsine's variant cover to Bloodshot #7, seen here.Newsarama: The big news breaking this week seems to be the “Planet Death” arc coming up in X-O Manowar, a one-man invasion of the Vine homeworld by Aric and his X-O armor. What can you tell us about the story?
Warren Simons: Well, this is the first self-contained mini-event in the history of the new Valiant Universe. Artist Trevor Hairsine is coming onboard to draw the prologue to “Planet Death” in X-O Manowar #9 and #10, and the first pages he’s turned in have been absolutely beautiful.As far as story goes, you hit it right on the head — a one-man invasion of the Vine homeworld. Aric was born a Visigoth in Roman times, and he’s taking a page out of the Visigoth playbook and doing what they did to ancient Rome and sacking the entire planet. After readers see the events that transpire in X-O Manowar #5-#8 and learn just how entrenched the Vine are in Earth, they’ll see an event occur that will shatter Aric and change his entire perspective on well, everything. If fans think Aric was mad at the Vine now after what happened in X-O Manowar #1, just you wait. So Aric as X-O Manowar is taking the fight to the Vine homeworld; he’s taking the hated he had towards the Romans and putting it all on the Vine.
Nrama: Trevor Hairsine, man… that’s a coup. But we can’t forget Cary Nord — when is he coming back on the series?
Simons: Trevor’s doing #9 and #10 for us, and then Cary Nord returns for “Planet Death” itself in X-O Manowar #11.
Nrama: Getting back to the story, in the issues so far of X-O Manowar we’ve seen Aric cut through the Vine troops like a hot knife through butter thanks to the X-O Manowar suits. When X-O comes bearing down on the Vine homeworld, how can they hope to stop him?
Simons: That’s a problem they’ve been working on for sometime, and their solution is these Commando suits.They’ve never been able to crack the X-O armor; in fact, every time one of the Vine has attempted to wear it, it killed them. The Vine worship the X-O Manowar suit as a holy relic, and when a “simple” earthman like Aric manages to wear it successfully, the Vine orders the suit be returned by any means necessary. Without spoiling too much, In X-O Manowar #9 and #10 reads will see someone take lead at trying to take back the X-O suit from Aric. But going back to the idea of the X-O suit being a holy relic to the Vine, that’s something writer Robert Vendetti brought to the book and he’s going to be exploring that in a big way in upcoming months. For some of the Vine they see Aric wearing the suit as blasphemy, but others might see it as their religious prophecy being fulfilled. When Aric does make it to the Vine homeworld, he’s going to be surprised that not everyone there looks at him as a villain. That’s one of the wrinkles we put into place with this book. Archer & Armstrong #5
interior art.Nrama: “Planet Death” is a big event for Aric — and a big event for Valiant. How long has this been in the works?
Simons: This story has been planned since issue #1. Robert has been seeding a lot of points in the story as we go along, specifically with the Vine being planted on Earth nearly 1600 years ago. X-O Manowar‘s “Planet Death” arc will be a standalone event inside the title but the repercussions will spread beyond just this one series. I can’t spoil too much, but just imagine if X-O Manowar makes it through “Planet Death” in one piece and comes back to Earth — how will the people of Earth take to one guy with that much firepower, regardless of whose side he’s on.Archer & Armstrong
#5 interior art.Nrama: Speaking of firepower, let’s get back to Trevor Hairsine. As you said he’s drawing X-O Manowar #9 and #10, and he comes to Valiant after being a top talent at DC and Marvel, drawing Superman and being part of Marvel’s “Young Guns” initiative. How’d you go about enlisting Trevor to be a part of the Valiant team?
Simons: I love Trevor’s work; he’s a brilliant, brilliant storyteller and a beautiful artist. I worked at Marvel when he was there working on Ultimate Six and a few other titles, and he’s been one of my favorite artists for some time so, as you can tell, I’m excited to have him here. Trevor’s going to be doing these two issues of X-O Manowar for us, and he’s also doing covers for some other titles. I’m trying not to sound too much like a fan here, but sometimes when you get in new pages by email it feels different — and Trevor is delivering.Archer &
cover.Nrama: And in general, you seem to be getting some of the top talents that Marvel and DC seems to be missing out on — Patrick Zircher, Cary Nord, Trevor Hairsine, Khari Evans the excellent Mico Suayan, whose been doing covers. What’s it like recruiting in such a tight playing field of talent?
Simons: I work in a very competitive industry, and Marvel and DC are massive companies with great artists working on both sides. Here at Valiant, I think for a lot of guys that work with us they want to have the opportunity to tell these stories and to work with Valiant. They want to do the first crossover, the first miniseries, and to launch things like Shadowman, Harbinger and X-O Manowar.
On my part, a lot of it is finding the right guys who’ll make the best fit. It’s casting to see who’ll be available, and who would fit tonally with what Valiant is aiming for. And that’s not just for the artists, but the writers as well. We hire the people we do because we like their voice and their vision and want them to be on our team.Archer &
cover.For the artists, we’re finding veteran artist who are doing great work but are sometimes overlooked by some at the other companies. Internally here at the Valiant offices, we talk about our creator casting being akin to Moneyball. As the Oakland A’s looked for talent undervalued by other teams or looking for players to break in, we do the same for creators.
Nrama: At NYCC you were pushing the #0 issue of Harbinger, which promises to show off Harada’s past and ties into the larger Valiant universe. What can you say about this issue?Harbinger #6
cover.Simons: We got Mico Suayan to do the interiors on this after delivering beautiful covers for us since we launched; he’s a super talented catch. Zero issues are a part of Valiant’s history, and we were the first company to do them in the mainstream comics world. In Harbinger #0, the book focuses on Harada and his journey to be who he is today and how the Valiant universe became what it is. In many ways, Harada is Valiant’s greatest antagonist — some people like Master Darque and some people like the Vine, but for me I think Harada is absolutely brilliant. Writer Joshua Dysart has spent a lot of time crafting this issue and bringing in some of the prophecies Harada has had. Bloodshot #5
cover.Nrama: Over in Bloodshot, the upcoming seventh issue is being set up to show Bloodshot’s ties to the Harbinger — specifically, what he did to earn the nickname “Harbinger Hunter.” What is that history he has with the Harbinger?
Simons: The current arc of Bloodshot, “The Rise And The Fall,” has shown Bloodshot attempting to take down Project: Rising Spirit. He’s going toe-to-toe with Rising Spirit, trying to what out what he was, who he was and why. Now he goes on a quest to discover his name and his true identity. To do that, he has to break into Project: Rising Spirit’s incredible, impenetrable base. Bloodshot has his former handler working with him, teaching him how to get inside the base and to the specific place there where information on his true identity is held. But getting to there will require Bloodshot to come face-to-face with a classic Valiant adversary, Chainsaw. Chainsaw was a group from the old Valiant, and here we’ve made them into being an earlier take on building superhumans by Project: Rising Spirit before they created Bloodshot. Khari Evans did a great new design for the Chainsaw team, and I’m excited to see what fans think.Bloodshot will go face-to-face with Chainsaw beginning in Bloodshot #5, and in Bloodshot #7 we’ll have a standalone issue that will delve into the past with Bloodshot’s time as the so-called Harbinger Hunter. We’re going to show how Bloodshot’s paths cross with Pete, Harada and the others, and believe me, there will be some massive repercussions. Bloodshot #7 is going to be one of the key points, the key axles, to which the Valiant universe revolves around. Harbinger #6
interior art.Harbinger #6
interior art.Nrama: Over on Archer & Armstrong you’re welcoming the return of the Eternal Warrior, but also a new arrival — a new Geomancer called Kay McHenry. We spoke with Fred Van Lente at length about Eternal Warrior a couple weeks back, but can you tell us about Kay and why having a new Geomancer is important?
Simons: The next arc for Archer & Armstrong is called “The Wrath of Eternal Warrior,” and what we discover is that Archer has been marked for death by Eternal Warrior. Eternal Warrior is an extraordinarily powerful character, a military tactician that’s an expert in all types of weapons — but he’s also Armstrong’s brother. What readers will see in the close of the first Archer & Armstrong arc is what sets him on his path to destroy Archer. Now Archer is Armstrong’s new best friend, so introducing Eternal Warrior and his goals to that mix is going to hit like an atomic bomb.Harbinger #6
cover.As far as Kay McHenry goes, this is one of the first times readers have seen a female Geomancer. She’s going to be very prominent here at Valiant, and we’ve found a very interesting and really timely and relevant way to introduce her. We’re very excited about Kay, and think readers will be too.
Nrama: One last question — I’m sure you’ve been blanketed with questions about this, but our readers need to know: What exactly is going on with Quantum & Woody?
Simons: I can confirm we will be putting up some of the original Quantum & Woody issues up online at the end of October. They’re definitely one of the most requested characters we’ve heard from from fans. Up here at Valiant HQ we love Christopher Priest and M.D. Bright’s run on the book; it was groundbreaking and super-intelligent. I don’t want to go too far, but we have a tremendous amount of love for this and when we put these classic issues online the first issue will be available for free.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!