Before X-O Manowar's end, series writer Robert Venditti has taken the series - and the character - to the future.
As part of Valiant Entertainment's 4001 A.D. summer event, last week's 4001 A.D.: X-O Manowar #1 had a startling future with multiple mech-style X-O suits being operated by various countries in pursuit of war, making these "manowar" suits the proverbial "mechowar."
In our previous installment of the “4001 A.D. Chronicles,” Newsarama touched upon the monstrous X-O robots that the Eternal Warrior revealed to Rai and Lemur. Talking to Venditti, Newsarama digs in a little more this week about the upcoming X-O Manowar finale as well as what's to come.
Newsarama: Robert, X-O Manowar is scheduled to end with September's #50. Is there a chance we might see you revisiting Valiant’s man out of time?
Robert Venditti: This feels like a good time to leave the book. We’ve accomplished a lot of things. 56 issues is a long time to be on a book in the modern environment. Are there more stories that could be told? Absolutely. There are always more stories, and who knows in what capacity I’ll revisit Aric again. As I continue to write for Valiant, maybe he’ll show up in something else that I’m doing. But I’ve had a good run, and it’s a good time to hand it off to the next person and see what they can do with it. Spoiler: I know who the next person is and what they’re going to do, and it’s going to be awesome!
Nrama: So you're saying there's another writer doing a new X-O series? Interesting.
Getting into the present with 4001 A.D., this is the first time in a while you’ve been able to step back and let someone else take the wheel for the summer crossover event. How does it feel from this side of the writer’s table?
Venditti: I’ve never really thought about it like that. So much of the event stuff is built in the writer’s room as a group, whether it’s Armor Hunters, Book of Death or 4001 A.D. We’re always doing it as a team. Matt Kindt has a great story with 4001 A.D., so it’s nice to see him head-up something like this. I think people are really going to enjoy what he does.
Nrama: Looking ahead – but not quite so far down the road – what’s next for Aric?
Venditti: We have the X-O Manowar Annual #1 coming up this week, which has a main 22-page story by me and Pere Perez, set in Aric’s past, which will tie-into the last arc of the series. It also has a story by Jody Houser and one by Amy Chu that readers can look forward to. Then we’ll be moving into the last arc of X-O Manowar, which will tie together a lot of plot threads we’ve put in place throughout the series. What people are going to find in these last four issues, whether it’s the “Enter: Ninjak” arc, or the “Armorines” arc, or “Armor Hunters” or various stories, they’re all going to come together into this final story as Aric and the heroes of the Valiant Universe go up against the Torment, which is a race of nigh-omnipotent beings that were thought to be mythological until they suddenly arrived on Earth at the end of X-O Manowar #46.
Nrama: Before we go there, let's talk about last week's 4001 A.D.: X-O Manowar #1. What made your involvement with the 4001 A.D. one of those “must have” opportunities, especially since we’re not really seeing Aric of Dacia involved?
Venditti: I thought it was a fun way to flesh out the mythology in a larger way, that doesn’t involve Aric, to see how the X-O Manowar armor would affect the world over 100 years into the future. As much as I love writing Aric and leading one arc into the next, it’s nice to do one of these one-off stories and step back from all of that continuity. It frees you up to do a lot of different things. When I read the first issue of 4001 A.D., and I knew what they wanted to do with a tie-in to X-O Manowar, it seemed to me like a good fit to tell the story about this one remaining armor from a different time period that we see Rai and other characters come across in 4001 A.D. #1.
Nrama: I mentioned this to Matt Kindt in a previous interview, and I know we’ve talked about this before as well, but 4001 A.D.: X-O Manowar #1 sees you jumping back into the giant robot toy box again – first GIN-GR and now these new models of the X-O Armor. Just can’t get enough?
Venditti: What’s not to like about giant robots? It’s something that you don’t want to force, but whenever you have the opportunity to do something really big, I think it leads to the kinds of stories that the comics medium can do really well. As much as this is a story about a big robot armor, though, it’s also a very personal story. I like that I’m able to ground it in character, even with things like giant robots stomping around.
Nrama: Reading this issue, I couldn’t help but feel like I was looking at Valiant’s take on Pacific Rim with your own X-O-branded Jaegars. Can you talk a little about the design process between you, Clayton Henry, and the rest of the creators involved with 4001 A.D.?
Venditti: We wanted to look at what the world’s superpowers would be like in this near-future scenario, and arm them all with their own distinct armor. It was fun to be able to play around with those things, and Clayton is so great at design. Even his sketches, with subtle changes to the armor to reflect each nation, and their specific weapons, are amazing. It’s just fun. I think a lot of that enjoyment comes across in the finished book.
Nrama: Your issue in particular seems aimed at providing a bit of a history lesson for 4001 A.D. #1, so that we understand the possible means of responding to the threat Father poses. But as we see, it’s not a successful strike. How will the United States’ solo surviving X-O- Jaegar manage to do what nearly a dozen others could not?
Venditti: That’s a story for Matt Kindt to reveal in his own book, as it should be. My thought was just to tell the story about this armor that failed, and what its perceived mission was. But through that failure, it was actually a greater success because the armor survived to a much further point in history where it could be put to use in a way that would become very important in the storyline of 4001 A.D. I thought it would be interesting to tell it from that perspective, in the here and now, when the American armor is experiencing the failure of not having been able to complete its mission. But we, as readers, know from having already read 4001 A.D. #1 that this armor is going to live on again in a different way.
Nrama: Interestingly, it seems we’re only seeing a mere sliver of the X-O armor at work within these monstrous robots, which raises the question of where the actual suit is and who’s in control of it. Any idea if there are plans to bring out the original model for 4001 A.D.?
Venditti: Again, what’s going to be put to use in 4001 A.D. is really for Matt’s to tell. I wouldn’t want to step on any of his reveals.
Nrama: Now, I understand the model Valiant uses is to roll out a single one-shot for each series as part of its event; however, any X-O-related hints you can pass along to fans in anticipation of what’s coming up?
Venditti: I just turned in the first draft for X-O Manowar #50, and it’s the biggest issue—in terms of length and also visuals—of X-O Manowar I’ve ever written. Which is saying a lot, looking back on 55 other issues of the series. There are going to be a lot of surprises, not just in terms of the storyline but also in terms of the creative talent involved in the issue. It’s something that I hope will read as a celebration of everything we’ve done, but also be a satisfying conclusion to this long-form story arc about a 5th Century Visigoth learning to be a hero in the modern day.