With the first two installments of Valiant's Book of Death event on shelves, the Eternal Warrior is at odds with the Valiant super-team Unity over the actions of a new Geomancer with pretty black "green thumb," while a second Geomancer has been revealed in the clutches of a returning Master Darque.
And now, Newsarama's Behind the Book of Death returns to talk to the scribes of The Book of Death and The Book of Death: The Fall of Bloodshot, Robert Vendetti and Jeff Lemire. Venditti and Lemire talk about the events so far, as well as what's coming next -- both short- and long-term -- for Valiant's characters and its titles this year.
Newsarama: Okay, so let’s talk about The Book of Death. The context is set: the Eternal Warrior’s primary mission – protect the Geomancer – comes in direct conflict with that of Unity, which is to protect the people of Earth from death and destruction, and this new geomancer seems to be causing a wave of massacres across the United States. Yet … we discover there’s another geomancer at play, and he’s being held captive by who is presumably Master Darque – the antagonist for the series.
Robert, how did this happen exactly? Wouldn’t David have been under Gilad’s protection to begin with?
Robert Venditti: We'll find out exactly how it happened at a later point in the series. Gilad, under normal circumstances, would’ve known that David was the replacement Geomancer, just as he has known throughout history who the Geomancers are, so he can go protect them. But something has changed the process this time. As Gilad says in The Book of Death #1, the new Geomancer is being hidden from him. That has allowed the new Geomancer to become corrupted, leading to the natural catastrophes that are happening—and will continue to happen, as shown in The Book of Death #1’s Book of the Geomancer excerpt—which is exactly what Gilad and Tama are trying to prevent. If they fail, the Valiant Universe will fall, all because someone got to the new Geomancer, David, before Gilad was able.
Nrama: There are generally two approaches to time: One wherein any change can drastically alter the events of the future (aka, the “Butterfly Effect”) and that of the immutability of time where there may be ripples within the river but the current will always flow to its final destination. We discover the presence of The Book of Death, which came with Tama from the future - a tome in which she reveals the rather unfortunate fate of Earth and all of its inhabitants. How mutable is the path set forth in The Book of Death?
Venditti: If you're asking whether all of the events we see in the Book of the Geomancer excerpt will be undone if Gilad is successful in his mission, the answer is no. Many of the things in those excerpt pages—I know this from being in the writers' room at Valiant—are going to happen at some point in the future, whether they be in a series that I write, like X-O Manowar, or in another series. Other things are more like toys that I'm putting in the toy box, so others can pick them up and play with them at some point if they choose.
What I'd like to see is these excerpt pages acting almost as a checklist that fans and readers can follow for months and years to come, and every time they come across one of the events that was shown, they can go "Oh, I remember that," and they check it off their list.
Nrama: Jeff, you’ve spent the better part of the past year publishing with Valiant, and you’re starting off working on your first summer event crossover with them. Now, we’ve spoken in the past, and I know this isn’t your first time working on a major event in comic books, so how are things different here at Valiant for you? Do you find the writing experience to be different from the group work you did on The Valiant with Matt Kindt and Paolo Rivera?
Jeff Lemire: Having a smaller line of books makes events easier to coordinate than in larger universes, but it also makes everything we do that much more important to the characters and the universe.
Nrama: Looking at the Book of Death: The Fall of Bloodshot, we see Bloodshot in various points in time … one point a world dominated by robot wars, another filled with dinosaurs. Are these areas we could see more of in the future? I also wondered if the city we see towards the end of the issue in the future might even somehow connect the characters from the present Valiant Universe to that of the future, namely, Rai. Any chance of that happening?
Lemire: I think we may very well see these things sooner than later. And the city at the end may in fact be related to Rai, but I'm not confirming that. Who doesn't want to see more of Bloodshot Robot Fighter and Bloodshot Dinosaur Hunter?
Nrama: Without giving away the ending, The Fall of Bloodshot does seem to reach a definitive conclusion. Where do we go from here?
Lemire: Well, Bloodshot doesn't go anywhere from there. I've been putting him through hell in the monthly book so I thought he deserved a quiet death. Will this death or any of these events come to pass the way we see them in The Book of Death? You'll have to wait and see.
Nrama: One thing that struck me when reading these two issues together was just how independent they operate from one another. In The Fall of Bloodshot, we only hear the vaguest mentions of wars in distant lands though we do see Bloodshot in a few images alongside the remaining Valiant heroes – though a bit more bulked up than normal. How do you both see this side-story converging with the main series?
Lemire: I think what makes the tie-in books successful is that they stand on their own as complete stories. We didn't want them to be to reliant on the events of the main series. Years from now, we wanted people to be able to read these without any knowledge of the event and understand and enjoy them.
Venditti: Those side stories are more glimpses into the future. It's more that each of the writers in each of the tie-in titles are bringing their own creativity to the event and theorizing the end of their characters. For example, I’m writing the The Book of Death: The Fall of X-O Manowar issue, and in my mind that is exactly what is going to happen to X-O Manowar in the future, whether Gilad succeeds in his mission or not. This is how I envision the ultimate end of the character, as we know him. It’s really the same mission statement that the four writers of the tie-in issues interpreted very differently, so you're going to see four very different approaches. Jeff's, which came out last week is just one, Matt's is different, Joshua's is different, and mine is different as well.
Nrama: Along those lines, what sort of coordination is required between you both (and the other creative teams) to make that happen smoothly? Or does it become a case backyard competitions at Valiant HQ? Rob, rumor is you’re the man to beat!
Venditti: I've known Matt Kindt and Jeff Lemire probably close to ten years now, we've had a friendship for quite a long time, and I've known Joshua Dysart since I started working for Valiant four years ago. It was more just really a combination of being in the writers room, learning what the directions of everyone’s books were going to be, and pulling on little threads and letting them be on the loop on that, so they knew that I was staying consistent with their vision. I was also reading their tie-in issue scripts and pulling out an item here and an item there. It kind of went back and forth both ways as far as who was taking the lead on those things.
Nrama: Rob, you previously promised to keep fans guessing and that they’d never figure it out. I have to give the point to Jeff in this round, though, as I can’t seem to figure out where he’ll go next given how far he went in this issue in terms of both the time line and what appears to have been the death of Bloodshot. What do you both have in store for readers that you can tell us about in your next issue without giving too much away?
Venditti: We learn a lot about Gilad in The Book of Death #2. Throughout the course of the new Valiant incarnation, he's sort of been in the background more than what would be normal for someone who is a master tactician. We're going to see a bit of what his long-game plan is. He's been around for thousands of years, he's fought way more battles and waged way more wars than all the members of Unity multiplied by ten at least. He's been around for a while.
While Ninjak and X-O Manowar and Livewire and GIN-GR are all formidable opponents, for somebody like Gilad, he's never lost a fight when he goes in and knows who his enemy is. They're all going to discover exactly how skilled and how much of a master of battle he is.
Nrama: Jeff – any surprises for us in the future for The Fall of Bloodshot, your current run on Bloodshot Reborn, or anything else with Valiant?
Lemire: Lots and lots of surprises coming in Bloodshot Reborn. Arc three is drawn by Lewis Larosa and jumps into the future for a Mad Max-style story. And after that things get crazy… Mico Suayan returns for something called "Bloodshot Island," the craziest story yet.