The Valiant Summit 2017 is being held through livestream from LA on HyperRPG’s Twitch channel today at 2pm EST and Comicon.com are tuning in to keep up with the announcements, insights, and reveals for Valiant’s 2017. After the livestream airs, you’ll be able to keep watching the recording of the stream throughout the day on the same channel.
Hunter Gorinson introduced the guests and colleagues taking part in the event, including Warren Simons, Valiant’s EIC, CEO Dinesh Shamdasani, and Hyper RPG hosts, including Zack Eubank. It’s their 3rd annual summit, and Shamdasani said this year is particularly important for the Summit in explaining how far ahead they are working on plans and revealing them to fans.
The one word that really speaks to their current plans is “ICONS”, the image for which was released awhile back. Shamdasani said it’s all about where Valiant is heading in 2017, bringing back the big “Icons” including Ninjak, Bloodshot, Faith, and more, since they were less in the limelight last year during expansions.
X-O Manowar had an “auspicious” launch in March, Gorinson said, but there’s something special on the way, which is that as of today, X-O Manowar is officially the “best selling independent comic book of 2017” selling 90,000 copies. Written by Matt Kindt and drawn by Tomas Giorello, the book has had a tremendous response and sell-out reports, as well as reorders. They built a pre-order edition, with extra content, so the official numbers released did not include the pre-order edition or re-orders, so that the official number is now 90,000 copies.
Matt Kindt joined Valiant to talk about X-O Manowar, and he said that he’s been a fan of X-O since the 90’s and has always wanted to write him. He was “intimidated” by Robert Venditti’s run, and asking what to do next led to the idea of “throwing him on an alien planet” and “stripping him down to his barbarian phase”. Returning him to a human being state and a “barbarian mode” excited Kindt. Also working with a different kind of story, spending some time developing a new environment and planet for him. Developing distinct races to live on the planet and having that in place when we meet Aric helps ground the story for Kindt. Also getting Aric out of his comfort zone in a different environment also helps us relate to him differently since the world is alien to us too, Kindt said.
Gorinson said that Kindt is the first to place Aric on a new world, but also noted that multiple arcs are in place, which will stretch over the coming year. Kindt said that the process of planning “can be unending” since we don’t have a “last issue”, and the “unlimited space” to tell a story is a challenge. There’s “room to build”, so Kindt was excited about showing Aric “progress”. He’s going to prove himself and move through ranks until he finally becomes Emperor. But the question is, “How does a guy on a farm progress to Emperor, and how does it change him? And is he fit to become Emperor once he’s there, having done the things that he’s done?”, Kindt said. In comics, it’s hard to do since X-O is a flagship character, and showing evolution for a character like that, having him change over time, is unique in comics, Kindt said.
Gorinson teased some of the bad guys in issue #10 of X-O Manowar, an issue that stands just before the “Visigoth” arc. It focuses on Bounty Hunters, and Kindt laughed about how much he’s loved Bounty Hunters since Empire Strikes Back as a kid. These hunters are after Aric because they feel he hasn’t done the right thing, Kindt said.
Simons chimed in to talk about the artwork, praising Giorello on the first arc, but the second will have Doug Braithwaite, and then Clayton Crain, followed by a “massive year of incredible artists”.
Gorinson asked if Kindt is going to work more with the “cosmic” aspect of the Valiant universe in the future and Kindt confirmed that, saying there are easter eggs throughout leading to that. Kindt said he loves placing them, because it’s “proof” that they “think we know what we are doing”, he laughed.
Moving on to a discussion of the second series of Brittannia by Peter Milligan and Juan Jose Ryp, Shamdasani said it’s a story of the “world’s first detective” who handles the “codex” and then understands that psychology drives people. It was a “huge hit” in its first series, so now the new series will have the same team with a brand new character, a female gladiator. Simons said that the “gladiatrix” is a “force of nature” and is set up against the “elite of Rome who want to kill her”. This standalone mystery is a great jumping on point, Gorinson said.
Moving on to a discussion of Rapture, a series that brings in Ninjak and Shadowman along with Tama the Geomancer and Punk Mambo, this Lord of the Rings-style comic will take us into the Deadside. It’s “big” everyone agreed. Kindt said that he felt he didn’t really understand the Lord of the Rings until he read Tolkien’s book The Silmarillion, and he finds that more impressive. That’s more like what they are doing with Rapture– taking the idea of a netherworld and making it seem as real as possible. He has tried to create a “sense” to it rather than just relying on magic as an explanation. Shamdasani hinted that if you like Shadowman, this is an important piece in his story that could lead to significant things in the coming year for him, seconded by Gorinson.
Asked why he wanted to include these characters in the story, Kindt said that these characters don’t get along, so including them was a good idea as a writer, and create “fun interactions”. He said that Tama was a character that Kindt and Jeff Lemire brought into The Valiant, and they always wanted to bring her back and make people “fall in love with her”. She’s like a “supernatural Nancy Drew”, Kindt said. Shadowman’s “checkered past” is part of this story, and finding out if he’s “redeemable”.
Eric Heisserer joined the team to talk about working on Secret Weapons. An Oscar-nominated writer on Arrival, Heisserer said that for the past year he’s been working on the Harbinger and Bloodshot adaptations to Sony films. Asked if he’d like to pitch some comics to Valiant, he did, and Secret Weapons is the result. The book features psiots, many of which are broken by the experience of the “lottery system” of triggering their powers. Harada places the kids he doesn’t employ in a facility, and these “abandoned misfits” are being hunted down and killed, one by one. Livewire has tremendous sympathy for them and wants to save them.
Abilities like talking to birds and conjuring inanimate objects without a lot of control are the powers in questions, not quite the most useful super powers. Another character can create a stone-like surface of his skin, but then can’t move. Another can make things glow. It’s the “reject pile” until they have a leader in Livewire, who can create an effective team from them.
Shamdasani said what they love about Secret Weapons is that it’s not what you’d expect–it’s heartbreaking and like nothing else in comics right now. Despite all the “pyrotechnics” in the story, the emotional aspect is what readers are going to respond to the most. Heisserer brings a degree of characterization that you feel like you’ve known the characters for years, and Raul Allen and Patricia Martin’s art is “next level”.
in 2016, Faith was a breakout character for Valiant, and Shamdasani agreed that this may be the year of Livewire. The rise of the villain Rex-O is also going to be key in this series, focusing on the role of a “competitor’s technology”, Heisserer said.
Shamdasani explained that there is a pre-order edition of Secret Weapons, as there was with X-O Manowar. The issues of the pre-order version will contain extra material, and April 27th is the cut off date for those pre-order editions, which are the same price as normal editions.
Moving on to a discussion of Faith, Jody Houser joined the group. Moving from a limited series to an ongoing series, Faith was a character who Houser really shaped. Asked what mini-series she’d like to write, Houser actually chose Faith. She’s the character who gets to be “optimistic” and “believe that she can make a difference”, someone audiences can relate to who grew up with sci-fi and fantasy, and now embraces her role in a unique way. Faith lives in Los Angeles and is a reporter by day, and faces off against a rogues gallery, who you’ll see together in the current arc, “The Faithless”. Her solo title is moving on to issue #12, but after that things are going in a new direction, called Faith and the Future Force. She’ll be interacting with the greatest heroes of the Valiant Universe from the past, present, and future.
Faith is a character who has always wanted to travel through time, and now she’s going to get her chance, but in an effort to save reality. Nila, the new Timewalker, will be back in the same effort, but it’s a hard feat to achieve alone. This title will bring together “all the timelines in the Valiant Universe”, Gorinson said. The narrative will include multiple artists, and as the story progresses, Faith is going to need more and more firepower in help from others, to face off against a “malevolent AI”. Houser teased that “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”, which is totally plausible in a time travel story.
Shamdasani said it’s a “huge cast” and “the best thing” Houser has “ever written”. It’s an “event” in bringing together Valiant characters, and this is “our Infinity Gauntlet”, Gorinson added.
Coming in August, Valiant have something very secret, that’s still “Classified” and the book is called “Classified”. When asked what it could be, Simons said that “it’s exciting and remarkable” but still under wraps.
Gorinson introduced Bloodshot Salvation, and Simons said that Jeff Lemire will be back on this title, where he’s taken the character into his natural evolution with family relationships. Introducing Jesse, Bloodshot’s daughter, alongside Bloodshot and Magic, will examine these roles. Giving a family to Bloodshot of course raises the question of whether they’ll be taken away. There’s a dual narrative drawn by two artists who develop this plot. It’s a “rollercoaster” for readers and for Bloodshot. New and classic villains have been brought in to contribute to the story, like Rampage, and characters from Project Rising Spirit.
There will be more coming up surrounding Bloodshot, since Jeff Lemire is someone who thinks very far ahead, with multiple arcs ready when he is ready to talk about an idea. Other key stories may be coming up, and look in the Valiant Free Comic Book Day special for a “roadmap” to where Bloodshot Salvation is going, Gorinson said. The FCBD issue will include a brand new Bloodshot story, and an advance look at Secret Weapons #1.
Coming up on a big announcement, Gorinson started talking about Divinity, a series that has been really significant to the Valiant Universe. A god-like character, he’s “uniquely qualified to jump into stories on a cosmic scale”, Shamdasani said. The book went to 11 printings, Divinity II went to five printings, and Divinity III is currently wrapping up with “Stalinverse”. The new arc is going to be called Eternity. It’s been teased for two years, but now can be revealed that there’s a baby involved. Mishka and Divinity have a baby in this arc, and it’s not actually Divinity IV–it just uses Divinity to spin off into another possible universe, maybe not even the Valiant Universe. Eternity is not a person, but a place, Gorinson said.
If you wonder where all the power that infuses Divinity and the other cosmonauts comes from, they are calling that place “Eternity”, Gorinson said. It’s a “pocket universe”, really, Kindt said, since it’s called “the unknown” previously, as the source of Divinity’s powers. As huge fans of Jack Kirby, there’s influence here, Simons said. There’s no “beating Kirby”, but it’s a discussion point to look at his work in this cosmic way. Some sketches shown by Kindt featured plant-based people like a flower man and “The Spine King”. Also, “The Stet Monks of Preservation and Sameness”.
It’s no small undertaking, said Gorinson, and will have a large cast with “dozens of new characters” and a “new pantheon” that may have characters who even “outrank Divinity”. Kindt said the story is about the disappearance of the child, and Divinity following the child into the unknown place to find him. Where he encounters these “weird environments”. Khari Evans has also done some of the character designs on this book. It’s a new universe, with a “new tone” and “dozens of characters”, Shamdasani said, and that’s part of why it’s not actually Divinity IV, which was a conscious choice. It’ll be a new entry point for readers, as well. It’s a “little Kirby, a little Moebius, and entirely different from anything Valiant has done before”, Gorinson said.
Circling back to the character Ninjak, Shamdasani described the character as an “A-hole”, a mercenary who sometimes finds himself aligned with good. Gorinson said they’ve built him into a solo character, but this autumn we’re going to get a new series with a new creative team on Ninja-K. Christos Gage, the new writer, joined the group. It will be drawn by Tomas Giorello. Kindt introduced that there have been many ninjas at MI6, and they are going to look into how a practitioner of a Japanese art went on to work for MI6. They find out about Ninja A, B, etc. into the 1960’s and 70’s. In this storyline, someone is killing people associated with the Ninja project, and Ninjak investigates as someone on the same list. It’s going to open with 40 pages and the history of the Ninja program, Simons said.
Gorinson said this is going to be an “espionage” take on the character rather than a superhero lens. It’s going to be like a big budget James Bond film, Gorinson said, or rather “the biggest budget James Bond film”. Gage said that the thinking was to “lean into the whole super-spy thing” and make it a title people can “pick up”, just like you can watch Bond films independently. Or if you’re a fan, there will be threads between the series.
In terms of the ICONS launches, Shamdasani was asked why this is the Icons jumping on point for Ninjak. With X-O Manowar, they changed up and offered new story approaches, and in Ninja-K, this book is also going to “blow up” new aspects of the character. It’s a “whole new tone, a whole new point of view”, he said.
Jumping onto discussion of Quantum & Woody, one of their most demanded returns, Valiant announced that the series will be coming back in December by Daniel Kibblesmith and Kano. With so much going right, and so competently in the Valiant Universe, it was time to bring back some heroes who will definitely screw it up, Shamdasani said.
Seeing these brothers who don’t get along, now at a point where they are “not on speaking terms”. They still have to “clang” their bracelets, but that’s about it, engaging only because they have to, not because they want to.
Regarding Quantum & Woody Television news, Shamdasani said that the Russo Brothers will be be producing and they’ll be bringing their “tone” to the show. The writers of Ant-Man and Ant-Man 2 will be writing. Other news hasn’t yet been announced, like casting, but it’s going to be a “big deal” with lots of information later this year, heading toward December, Gorinson said.
That’s Valiant’s 2017.
Regarding 2018, and Harbinger Wars 2, Gorinson said the first book arrives in December, written by Matt Kindt and drawn by Doug Braithwaite, a one-shot story. The was created as a reward for fans who collected coupons from the back of Harbinger Wars. Harbinger Renegade #5, which is their “very emotional” book with a graphic death of a character, will be appearing with a “wraparound warning”, leads into this event.
Harbinger Renegade #5 arrives in July, then the “dominoes are going to fall” leading into their “biggest event to date”.
Teasing Shadowman’s role in 2018, Gorinson said he’s their most demanded character. There’s something “special” coming on March 28th, 2018, a new Shadowman book arriving on the stands. It’s one year away, essentially. Shamdasani said to compare the lead to X-O Manowar, which was also a year of preparation, and assume that the roll out for Shadowman will be just as big, and worth the wait.
March will be a big month for Valiant “every year going forward”, doing a “big launch” or something like it in future each time.
During the Q and A period, asked if the goat will be returning to Quantum & Woody, Shamdasani said that even in TV show development, all the team want to hear about is the goat. So, yes.
Asked about the future of Archer & Armstrong, Simons said to check out Faith and the Future Force.
Talking about HyperRPG and “Valiant Vanquished”, Zack Eubank explained it’s a live RPG with comedians as a cast members improvising. It runs weekly, and is now in its second season, and it’s all about “playing in the Valiant Universe”. They will be replaying this season’s episodes this afternoon for fans. Eubanks has seen some elements from Road to Harbinger Wars 2, and he said that they’re using the show to help build up the excitement for that event. The show involves a lot of psiots, and “hides little secrets” in there for fans.
In the chatroom for this show, you can take part in a giveaway for signed posters and more, Eubank said.