Toyo Harada’s greatest failures are about to be the greatest weapons against him.
Valiant’s Secret Weapons hit stands today (see Newsarama’s advanced review here) and has fan-favorite Amanda McKee, aka Livewire, recruit some individuals with less-than-useful in a military setting powers, such as making an object apparate, but having no control over the time or object you’re summoning.
Writer and recent Academy Award nominee (Arrival) Eric Heisserer is helming the series along with artist Raul Allen diving into this corner of the Valiant Universe. Newsarama had the opportunity to talk to Heisserer about his upcoming Valiant projects outside of Secret Weapons and what fans can expect from the series.
Valiant has also supplied Newsarama with an exclusive look at Secret Weapons #2.
Newsarama: So, Eric, how did you first get involved with Valiant?
Eric Heisserer: I was one of the writers that tried out for the job of adapting Harbinger and just pitched my heart out to that job. I found that the new books were compelling to me and the closest thing to an American version of Akira that I’ve seen in a long while. So after a few rounds, I did manage to get the job and continued to slay away at it.
From there, I got into working in the publishing side of them.
Nrama: With Live Wire gaining a level of popularity since Divinity and finally getting her own series with Secret Weapons, where are you taking her this time around?
Heisserer: I’m taking her to a smaller story and focusing on what drives her personally, rather than mission-based. She’s a sort of detective that turns into a big sister for these kids who were in this program that was abandoned by Toyo Harada. She’s going to feel more emotions in this story than we’ve seen before.
Nrama: With Secret Weapons issue one, where is Live Wire starting out?
Heisserer: Well you know, Live Wire has discovered that her old ex-boss Harada had built a facility in Oklahoma City where he banished the psiots that he created through surgery, but deemed useless. So consider these like the island of misfit toys.
Nrama: Yeah, especially the girl who can talk to birds. It’s pretty great.
Heisserer: Yeah, they’re a fun little bunch, but also have some self-esteem issues. You know, they were built up to be something special and that they had this latent ability inside them and that this billionaire that the Valiant universe has the closest to like a Steve Jobs or Elon Musk who would invest maybe half a million dollars to on this procedure to awaken those abilities.
But on the other side of that they learn they now have the abilities to make things glow or to talk to birds and that same person who essentially gave you those abilities comes back and tells you you’re worthless and puts them in Oklahoma City because I don’t know what to do with you. That’s a harsh sentence for someone. So there’s going to be a bit of rebuilding of their self-esteem by Live Wire for these kids to make them feel better about themselves to make them realize their true potential.
Nrama: Aside from writing the Harbinger and Bloodshot adaptations, are you involved in any other movies in production?
Heisserer: Well I think we’re on the verge of having some really good news on Bloodshot. Director Dave Wilson has officially come on board and has been doing a lot of behind the scenes stuff for it and I don’t want to step on his toes, but yeah, there’s a good announcement coming for that soon. Harbinger has made some progress as well, but I can’t talk about it so I get to be vague here and be coy, but just know that both of those projects are moving forward, but since they’re beyond the scripting stage, I can’t talk about my involvement.
Nrama: How was working with artist Raul Allen on Secret Weapons?
Heisserer: He’s phenomenal! He makes me want to become a better writer because of how he executes everything on the page. When I was writing the first issue before I knew for a fact I had him, I went back when he was confirmed and pulled out a lot of specific detail because you don’t want to overdirect Raul. The key is to give him inspiration and let him run off so he can give you a page with thirteen or fourteen panels, but still totally works in a way you didn’t see coming.
Nrama: Since you’re working within the new Valiant Universe that was relaunched a few years ago, were you ever a fan of the original one?
Heisserer: I was a casual reader of Valiant back in the day. I picked up a few issues of Archer and Armstrong and a few X-O Manowar and found them interesting, but that was when I wasn’t on a regular diet of comic books. I didn’t stick much to any titles.
The reignition of the brand has really surprised me. They have amazing characters in these little subworlds full of niche titles for any type of reader.
Nrama: What was it about Valiant that drew you to the project?
Heisserer: Well aside from the diversity of characters, I like that they were off kilter enough I didn’t feel like I was reading a Marvel or DC book. It felt like everybody had something different to say with these characters, whether it’s how Jodie Houser writing Faith or Matt Kindt, who is doing a number of titles, I’m a huge fan of Jeff Lemire’s Bloodshot work. It doesn’t feel corporate-steered and feels more like the voice of the artist and writer shining through, so of course I was trying to get involved.
Nrama: On Free Comic Book Day this year, Valiant had a special issue that was sort of a prelude to what to expect from them in the upcoming year. Now, you had a hand in that. Can you talk about that a bit for those that might have missed out?
Heisserer: Sure! There was a little preview of Secret Weapons issue one in there. So there was some samples and a little taste from some mini-stories for those that wanted to try out that help contribute to the larger narrative that we’re building there.
That’s what I like about that strategy, it’s something like a sample platter and then you can decide what character to invest in from there.
Nrama: Along with Secret Weapons and your work on the Harbinger movie, do you plan on sticking around with Valiant?
Heisserer: Yeah, I’m writing Harbinger Wars 2 with Matt Kindt next year and I plan on pitching a few ideas to the guys at Valiant where they’re probably sick of me by now.