WonderCon: Valiant First opens up; Robert Venditti on Armor Hunters
"Armor Hunters" No. 1 cover by Jorge Molina. (Valiant)Link
A look inside "Armor Hunters." (Valiant)Link
"Rai" No. 2 cover art by Raul Allen. (Valiant)Link
A look inside "Rai" No. 2. (Valiant)Link
This map of Japan in the 41st century is included in the limited-run Plus Edition of "Rai" No. 1 (Valiant)Link
"Harbinger" No. 25 cover by Mico Suayan. (Valiant)Link
"Unity" No. 9 cover by Mico Suayan. (Valiant)Link
"The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage" No. 1 cover by Travel Foreman. (Valiant)Link
"The Delinquents" No. 1 cover by Paolo Rivera. (Valiant)Link
"Armor Hunters: Bloodshot" No. 1 cover by Billy Tan. (Valiant)Link
A look inside "Armor Hunters: Bloodshot." (Valiant)Link
After re-imagining a universe first seen in comics in the 1990s, the revived Valiant Entertainment is marking its third year by launching a series of books intended to give potential new readers a spot to jump on.
The Valiant First books, detailed at the publisher’s Saturday panel at WonderCon, begin with April 30’s “Rai” No. 1, by writer Matt Kindt and artist Clayton Crain, which Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani said is set in 41st century Japan, a land ruled by an artificial-intelligence figured called Father, and will have the title character investigating the first murder in a thousand years.
Armor Hunters, which “X-O Manowar” writer Robert Venditti described as a “Seal Team 6 of outer space” including “cuddly-looking death robot” Ginger, plays a major role in Valiant titles over the next several months. Their self-titled four-issue miniseries by Venditti and Doug Braithwaite is part of Valiant First, and after its debut in June, events will have ramifications in other titles.
The leadup is in Venditti’s series, where after the “Unity” story line Aric is induced to work for a covert military organization called M.E.R.O. “X-O Manowar” reaches No. 25 in May with a 48-page issue with work by artists including Diego Bernard, Bryan Hitch and J.G. Jones.
Shamdasani and Venditti were joined on the panel by “Harbinger” writer Joshua Dysart, “Quantum and Woody” writer James Asmus and colorist-of-many-titles David Baron.
“Armor Hunters” events are felt in “Unity” No. 8, by writer Matt Kindt and artist Stephen Segovia. Bloodshot joins Unity for the arc. In his own title, Bloodshot is in conflict with H.A.R.D. Corps in Issues 22 and 23, written by Christos Gage and Duffy Boudreau, with art by Al Barrionuevo. It’s the climax of struggles between Bloodshot and Project Rising Spirit.
“Harbinger” also plays in a corner of “Armor Hunters,” with the “superhero child soldiers” of Generation Zero facing a different threat while the rest of the Valiant characters are off fighting, Dysart said.
“Harbinger” No. 22, out Wednesday, delivers on the initial promise of the series, Dysart said: “The kids that had nothing, the powerless, the poor and the young, go up against the largest, most powerful corporate entity in the history of the human species…. I can honestly say, without rhetoric or hyperbole, everything for the book and for the characters changes – emotionally, actually.” Not everyone survives.
“One of the things we’ve always tried to do with ‘Harbinger’ is not just make it about people using superpowers but also make it a real battle of wills and battle of intellects. I do feel … that we’ve actually captured the battle of intellects between Peter’s crew and Harada.”
The series’ upcoming No. 25 will be a 48-page issue with work by artists including Khari Evans, Justin Jordan and Barry Kitson, who’s drawing a two-page poster of all the characters from Dysart’s run.
“Dude, I had no idea,” Dysart told Shamdasani after the executive announced that Kitson tidbit. “It’s like ‘Harbinger’ porn.”
“You still have to go to the Amazon fan fiction for that,” Asmus joked.
The deluxe issue is the last for “Harbinger.” Dysart said the characters will continue, and he’s still involved as a writer for the next chapter.
“We’ll get to do something that is so rarely done in comics,” he said. “And that is come to a finite end and yet still continue with these characters that I really love.”
In the near future, world-famous CEO / secret supervillain Harada is outed as a Harbinger – and that makes him more dangerous than ever, the writer added.
The world’s worst superhero team, Quantum and Woody, and another Valiant duo come together in the four-part “The Delinquents,” written by Asmus and Fred Van Lente, with art by Kano; it debuts in August.
“It’s Quantum & Woody & Archer & Armstrong,” Asmus said. “But Valiant ran out of ampersands, so we called it ‘The Delinquents.’”
The story involves hobo code, treasure, a map originally tattooed on a transient’s posterior, then split – and half of it has ended up in Armstrong’s bottomless satchel but forgotten about, Asmus told the laughing crowd.
“The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage,” a Valiant First title, launches in September from writer Jen Van Meter and artist Roberto de la Torre. It involves a history with a parallel effor to the post-World War II Operation Paperclip to bring over supernatural specialists, and a supernatural arms race.
“Shadowman: End Times,” out April 30 from writer Peter Milligan and artist Valentine de Landro, is also in the supernatural corner of the Valiant universe and features the return of the title character’s father, who was the previous Shadowman.
[For the record, 6:30 p.m. PDT, April 20: A previous version of this post misspelled M.E.R.O. as Marrow.]
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