Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. And according to Valiant Entertainment, 'doom' is spelled 'W-A-R.'
With this week's Harbinger Wars 2: Prelude and the miniseries itself launching May 30, Valiant is kicking off its summer crossover event through hearkening back to the event that started them all. With psiots activating across the world and a growing paranoia surrounding this surge in super-powered individuals, world governments start taking action, and Livewire and the rest of the Secret Weapons have to make a choice about what side they will stand on: that of the government seeking to respond to the terrorist threats from these being who’ve toppled the North American power grid … or their own kind who now face persecution at the hands of a fearful and angry government?
With Matt Kindt once again serving as the summer event architect alongside regular collaborator Tomas Giorello, he helps usher in the newest era of Valiant. Newsaram spent some time talking about how some of the new editorial and publishing team changes have informed his work as one of the long-time creators within the Valiant stable, and what readers can expect from him and Giorello in this new mini-series.
Newsarama: Looking back, the first Harbinger Wars was the first crossover for the newly reformed Valiant Entertainment five years ago. Now, we have what appears to be a largely new team at the helm of Valiant – outside of the writers and artists – as Harbinger Wars 2 gets underway.
As one of the creators whose been with Valiant since its relaunch, how do things feel now as you get ready to kick off the second Harbinger Wars crossover, Matt?
Matt Kindt: It’s really great to be with Valiant and a line of comics that have really blown up over the last five years to the point that we can sustain a sequel to a previous event. It’s kind of crazy - in the best way. If anything, it shows that the universe has become so rich and diverse that we now have enough backstory built up that an event like this makes sense.
Nrama: You now have Executive Editor Joe Illidge filling in where Warren Simons once stood. How is working with Joe on a publisher-wide crossover like this compared to when you’ve worked with Warren? Where do you see Joe’s editorial “fingerprint” on Harbinger Wars 2? I know Warren always underscored the importance of accessibility for new readers. What sort of guidance do you have moving into this next big crossover from editorial?
Kindt: It’s been seamless for sure. Warren and I built the boat and now we’re launching it with a new team – so a lot of what we’d worked on was already in progress – and to Joe and the rest of the new team’s credit – they’re there to tell the best story – it’s what has set Valiant apart from a lot of the competition so far and it’s continuing in that same vein. Story is king.
Everything in this universe is so organic – that it doesn’t necessarily “write itself” but the previous stories and character developments really inform the future stories and characters. The new team has their finger on that pulse and all the new stuff is really just branching out from all the greatness that has come before – the Universe is really starting to bloom – if I can jam yet another metaphor into this answer.
Nrama: Jam away! But before launching into a discussion of Valiant’s upcoming Harbinger Wars 2, can you give us a “state of the Valiant Universe” to set the stage for what’s about to drop? What do we need to know going into this storyline?
Kindt: There’s a tiny percentage of the world’s population known as psiots who are born as “sleepers” with a potential ability to have extra abilities. The world is becoming increasingly aware of this small population’s existence and as a result they’re beginning to suffer various types of persecution on a personal level and from the government. Several agencies in the U.S. have started capturing, torturing, and, in some cases, killing these psiots. This is the instigating moment in the 2nd Harbinger War. Livewire isn’t taking this persecution lying down and she decides to drop every American satellite out of the sky and disconnect the US power grid, plunging the entire country into the Stone Age. War ensues…
Nrama: In taking this direction, Matt, it seems like you’ve tapped into some real-world anxieties over terrorists’ ability to possibly take down the United States’ power grid with Livewire causing the United States to go dark. Are you suggesting that, from a certain point of view, even our heroes could be seen as terrorists?
Kindt: Who knows? I’m not trying to be glib here, but we’re working in a fictional universe and I consciously keep politics below the surface in everything I write. It’s all there and it’s all open to interpretation. I am not a fan of fiction that wears its politics on its sleeve – you’re either preaching to the converted or losing a potential reader who needs a positive influence. So yeah, I have views on everything. You can’t be human and not have an opinion on the world and humanity. But my goal isn’t necessarily to sway you into thinking one way or another. My goal really is to write something that encourages you to assess your own views and understand why you think the way you do – and hopefully encourage a more compassionate world view.
Nrama: Shifting gears a bit, readers saw the return of XO Manowar to Earth this week. It seems hard to believe that his epic story you told in the past seventeen issues only encompassed a year in the Valiant Universe. How do you think his experiences abroad will shift his allegiances and overall perspective on his life on Earth?
Kindt: That really was the entire point of the first year of XO. I wanted to break him from his past – give him (and the reader) a chance to re-assess who and what he is. And then bring him back into a familiar situation to see if he would handle it differently. He’s a different person than he was when he left. He’s enlisted by the government to be kind of their hired-gun again as he used to be – but he’s seen all of this play out before, albeit in an alien landscape. But the fighting and wars and squabbles over rights and land and ideas are all the same. He’s coming home a little more world-weary. It’s tough to see history repeating itself over and over again and everyone around him seemingly oblivious to the hopelessness of this war. He’s going to be a wild card in this series for sure.
Nrama: I would be remiss if I didn’t try to pry at least one or two secrets from you about your artistic collaborators. It seems like there’s always some fun surprise in store for readers when it comes to the way the story is told – whether it’s shifting artists depending on location akin to The Book of Death or the use of painted comic art such as 3000 A.D. What do you and Tomas Giorello have cooked up for readers for this series?
Kindt: I think the true fun is going to be seeing how Giorello handles a lot of these new characters that he hasn’t drawn before. I can promise you that what we do with Bloodshot in Issue #2 of this series is something that he has never drawn before and we’ll see Bloodshot in a way that you have never imagined. It’s nuts.
Nrama: As a wrap up question to get readers ready for what’s to come, Matt, I have to wonder what you see are the defining characteristics to Harbinger Wars 2 that sets it apart from all of the other crossover events you’ve been involved with at Valiant?
Kindt: Well, I hate crossover events. Hated them as a kid because there was all this pressure to collect an odd issue here or there to complete the story or to figure out what happened in one corner of the universe. This is the beauty of working in the Valiant Universe – the event isn’t a marketing gimmick. It’s a story-driven idea that needed its own short series to bring all of these amazing characters together.
And architecting it has allowed me to use the XO book proper to thematically tie in to the event but not make it a true crossover in that you need to buy one to understand the other. The overlapping books work to make the story richer and more layered. You don’t have to collect them all – that’s not what this story is about. But reading these and the overlapping books will reward you with a deeper understanding of the events and also maybe change the way you feel about the characters and their actions. It’s the most subtle and layered kind of crossover I’ve ever worked on.