Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Paolo Rivera, Fred Van Lente and Robert Venditti spoke to fans on Friday at New York Comic Con to discuss their latest series with Valiant Entertainment. They were joined by Valiant Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons and Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani.
Valiant's Director of Marketing Hunter Gorinson discussed the new wave of Valiant books, called Valiant Next. He showed a clip which featured. The Valiant, written by Lemire and Kindt and illustrated by Rivera. "Three times... he has confronted evil. And three times... he has lost. This December, mankind's greatest enemy returns. But this time... it will be different. This time... we have... The Valiant." The series features Bloodshot, Eternal Warrior, Geomancer, Ninjak, X-O Manowar, Archer & Armstrong, and more.
"It started off as something much different and smaller," Lemire said. "The more we talked, the more the ideas sort of grew." Since this will be Lemire's first work at Valiant, he wanted to make something accessible to readers, since he too was learning about the Valiant universe. "We think it's a perfect jumping-on point to the universe, but it also works for long-time fans."
Gorinson said the scope of The Valiant is large, going back 10,000 years in history. Lemire said the Eternal Warrior is one of the main characters, who is pit against something called "The Immortal Enemy," a counterpoint to the Geomancer. Those are the two main characters, but the rest of the Valiant universe plays a role.
Rivera said, "What I like about this story is that it's good for newcomers." He said he knew what many of these characters looked like, but didn't know the stories behind them - so in the first 10 pages of The Valiant, you learn about his history. "I wasn't an Eternal Warrior fan then," he said, adding that he updated the character's costume, likening it to Lord of the Rings. "But I am now."
Simons said that his main goal was to "do a good comic." Simons said that he was so thrilled with the work that Kindt was turning in, he wanted to do something bigger with him - and pairing him up with his friend Lemire was a great solution.
"Our schedules never allowed it, or our timing was off," Kindt said, saying that this project with Lemire originally was envisioned as a one-shot for the two of them. Soon, The Valiant blew up into a four-issue series. "It will have massive reprecussions for the rest of the universe," Simons said. "The end of this book will be felt through many of these titles for lots of time to come."
With The Valiant starting in December, the next Valiant series will be Ivar, Timewalker, with Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry, starting in January. Van Lente said that Ivar is the oldest of three immortal brothers. "He's a cross between Reed Richards and John Constantine," saying he's smart enough to save the world, but enough of a rogue to mess up the lives of those around him. Ivar will go on an adventure, trying to protect a woman who is about to invent time travel. Van Lente said that Neela, a physicist, is a co-lead with Ivar. The series will be a time-traveling adventure.
Van Lente also praised his artistic partner, Clayton Henry. "His character designs are terrific, and his storytelling is excellent - he's a consummate artist," Van Lente said.
The next series will be Divinity, a four-issue series by Kindt and Trevor Hairsine starting in February, which will be a new property for the Valiant universe. "I wanted to come up with the most powerful character in the Valiant universe, and tell a small, heart-warming story about him - then I saw that cover, and realized I needed to step up," Kindt joked. "I just wanted to do a cosmic story." Kindt said that Simons gave him the title, but that was the extent of the idea. "That was the greatest writing prompt ever," Kindt said.
Following Divinity in February will be Imperium, featuring Toyo Harada, CEO and an all-powerful telekinetic. In this series, Harada will be outed as a supervillain. Simons said that in order to see his vision realized, he's going to have to bring together allies.
Matt Kindt and Clay Mann will take on Ninjak starting in March, which will follow the character into the field and shed light on his origins. Kindt said he pitched a year-long storyline for the character showing the character as a child, learning espionage in his 20s, and his adventures as an adult. Kindt said that he was excited to show Ninjak's story from three different vantage points. Kindt said that Ninjak was everything he liked as a 13-year-old: "He has gadgets, he's got all this money, he lives in a castle," he chuckled.
There will also be a new villain for Ninjak. The place that trained Ninjak produced other warriors which will cause the character trouble, Kindt said.
The final book for Valiant Next is Bloodshot Reborn, written by Lemire and art by Mico Suayan and hitting the stands in April. Gorinson said that they couldn't spoil much. "The thing that always intrigued me about Bloodshot... is that his past could be anything," said Lemire, adding that he aimed to add in "a big dose of humanity" to the character to make him more relatable. "We're taking some risks, and they might not all work, but... this is going to be a crazy series." This series will also touch upon our cultural obsession with violence, Lemire said. "It's pretty interesting."
Robert Vendetti, author of Armor Hunters, will start an all-new X-O Manowar story arc in November, called "Enter: Armorines." The arc will be drawn by Diego Bernard. Vendetti said that this will be similar to the original concept for the Armorines. They're brought in by a corporation to interact with X-O Manowar in the wake of Armor Hunters. "What's nice is when we do these big storylines, there are repercussions," Vendetti said. "Now that the heroes have been revealed and there's been this horrific alien encounter... the United Nations has developed a new agency... an agency that monitors alien technology around the world."
Vendetti said that the cross-genre concept of Manowar made him interesting. "He's a historical character, but he's also sci-fi," he said, adding that there were "long-term plans" for the Armorines.
James Asmus will be teamed up with Steve Lieber for a four-issue limited series called Quantum and Woody Must Die!, due out in January. Editor Alejandro Arbona came up to the stage to discuss the project. "It's like a whole new story for these characters," Arbona said. "Things are going great - they're in couples counseling... but they realize things are not right." The series will join these two sort-of heroes as they investigate.
The Valiant team then opened up the floor to Q&A. The first fan question was about how Valiant maintains consistency throughout their titles in the wave of an event. Lemire, no stranger to event comics workin at DC, took the question. "The big difference with Valiant is that with the miniseries itself, there is no spin-offs or tie-ins... and the repercussions are contained to a few characters that Matt and I are writing later."
When that fan then asked if the repercussions for the event weren't comprehensive, Simons and Vendetti listed several ways the Valiant universe changed post-Armor Hunters. "Valiant has a track record of following through," Vendetti added. Lemire said he understood, saying that fans get burned out on gimmicky events. He said that was not the case with Valiant: "We're just trying to tell the best stories we can."
Are the new titles for Valiant Next replacing any existing titles? Shamdasani said the publishing line will expand and contract as needed, but there are no hard and fast rules: "Really just guidelines," he said.
The final question for the panel was will there be more female superheroes in the Valiant universe? "I think we've set up Livewire," Vendetti said. "She's a hugely powerful character." Simons also offered Faith as an example, saying that "as we publish more and more, you'll see more and more come out of the larger universe."
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