Halfway through its 4001 A.D. summer event, Valiant releases another one-shot this week that seeks to explore the burned-out world existing below the futuristic New Japan orbiting Earth and pummeling it with debris in the wake of Father’s battle with Rai. Helmed by Fred Van Lente and Tomas Giorello, 4001 A.D.: War Mother #1 introduces readers to a new character, Ana - the War Mother -whom readers will get to know more about in the coming months.
Newsarama spoke with Van Lente to get a little background on this take-character character, how the issue fits within the scope of this summer’s event, and what else he and Giorello have in store for readers.
Newsarama: Looking at the solicits for 4001 AD: War Mother #1 and the five-page preview, I can’t help but see some strong parallels here to Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road. Was this something playing around in the back of your mind as this story came together?
Fred Van Lente: Probably, to a certain degree. I've seen the movie around seven times now and it's a huge influence. There are as many differences as there are similarities, but it's hard not to be affected by something as striking as Fury Road.
Nrama: So, what is it about Furiosa and the character model she establishes that is so compelling for you?
Van Lente: Well, you know, like everything else in Fury Road, there's very little dialogue and backstory to Furiosa beyond the barest of basics. She's idealistic, but very pragmatic, in pursuit of what she sees as right, yet she’s unsentimental. As the name War Mother implies, our hero Ana has a dissonant combination of ruthlessness and compassion that makes her really fascinating. She does get more lines though! [laughs]
Nrama: As a writer, what new areas is War Mother's story allowing you to explore?
Van Lente: Obviously this is part of the larger 4001 A.D. event, and the fall of New Japan—or at least certain segments of it—have fallen to different parts of Earth. In this instance, a huge sector has dropped into the Breath of Jade, which is this verdant area on what used to be the Colombia/Brazil border where everything, and I mean everything, is alive. And inclined to eat you.
Ana is the main scavenger ("scav") for her tribe, and heads out to grab the fallen tech for her tribe before her competitors. But she discovers something there that challenges basically everything she's been taught is right, and faces her with a thorny moral dilemma—that all spells high drama, baby!
Nrama: Is there any particular aspect of War Mother you are finding more challenging than other titles you’ve written – either at Valiant or beyond?
Van Lente: Just the very nature of a one-shot, even a slightly over-sized one like this, makes it a challenge to introduce a brand new character, her allies, and her world so quickly. But I think we've done a pretty good job, if I do say so myself...
Nrama: Shifting gears a bit, let’s peel back the curtain behind Valiant HQ: How exactly did this book come to life?
Van Lente: Valiant wanted to explore other aspects of 4001 A.D. Earth, beyond Asia and North America, so doing something in South America seemed like a natural choice.
Nrama: Joining you on art will be Tomas Giorello. Can you talk about working with Tomas – what’s the process look like and how different do you find it from working with other artists at Valiant Entertainment?
Van Lente: Anyone who's seen his art has fallen in love with it. Tomas is just blowing it out of the water with the book, which has a lot of challenging design to it. He is just creating a whole new world before your eyes, and it's just spectacular.
Nrama: Looking at the story itself, we understand that while the Earth is in pretty bad shape during the 41st Century, it’s clearly not totally uninhabitable. We see a mix of humans as well as another race, the Sylvans. Who are they -- and can you give us a little background about them?
Van Lente: They are humanoid extensions of the Grove itself, which is the biometric tower that Ana defends. They assist humans in their survival, but what happens when the interests of Sylvans and humans diverge? That's where our story begins...
Nrama: We’re told that 4001 A.D.: War Mother is going to be a standalone tale, but what’s the likelihood this grows into something else?
Van Lente: If I were a betting man, I'd say highly likely...