ECCC 2018: Valiant’s Harbinger Wars And Beyond Panel With Eliot Rahal

by Hannah Means Shannon

The Valiant Harbinger Wars 2 and Beyond Panel at Emerald City Comic Con 2018 took place on Thursday during the opening afternoon of the show.

VP of Digital and Communications, Hunter Gorinson, EIC Warren Simons, and writer Eliot Rahal took part in the panel.

Leading up to Harbinger Wars 2, Gorinson spoke about the impact of the first Harbinger Wars as a major event from an independent publisher like Valiant. Simons said the original idea was formulated as a “shared universe” aspect of Valiant during their early days of publishing again. Bloodshot as a character was key to this idea of a “shared universe”, Simons said. With Bloodshot as a an agent of Project Rising Spirit trying to take on Valiant heroes, it helped Valiant build their universe.

Coming up in May, Harbinger Wars 2 is landing as five years forward from the events of the previous Harbinger Wars, Gorinson said. We’ll see the threads of the different series coming together in the hands of Matt Kindt and Tomas Giorello, as well as Eric Heisserer, Raul Allen, and Patricia Martin.

Simons described the event as “seismic” and “kinetic”, and spoke about the two teams working on the crossover. In the first issue, Omen, the following organization from Project Rising Spirit, has been intent on killing off the Secret Weapons, which incites Livewire to knock out the power in the USA. Heisserer loves Livewire, Simons said, and Gorinson described the Secret Weapons series by Heisserer as one of their most successful series of late.

The “prelude” issue is coming out May 2nd, and it will be a “bridge” from Secret Weapons to Harbinger Wars, bringing the characters from that series into the wider Valiant Universe. One thing that Dinesh Shamdasani has always infused into the company, Gorinson said, is “accessibility”, not making the comics hard to get into. And this prelude will be a testament to that.

On May 30th, Harbinger Wars 2 #1 will land, by Matt Kindt, and it opens with Peter Stancheck on the run about to get shot and killed by HARD Corps, Simons said. And that’s the quietest part of the issue, he laughed.

Gorinson described HW2 as a “coast to coast” event whereas HW1 took place mainly in Las Vegas. This story is about “youth vs. corporations”, Simons said, and about young psiots taking on a big world “bearing down” on them.

The threads that Kindt has been building in X-O Manowar will be coming together with implications for HW2, Gorinson said.

A “taste” of things coming up in HW2 will see teams that haven’t gotten together before interacts. There will be a “lot of Harbingers on the board in the Valiant Universe” in ways that we haven’t seen in a long time, Gorinson said.

HW2 will span six issues from May to September, but will affect other books across the line. Like Quantum and Woody! which will spring out of these events. It ties “around, into, and in between” the events of HW2.

Eliot Rahal is the writer on that series, taking over from Daniel Kibblesmith, and he agreed with that assessment in the series that will be drawn by Francis Portella. This story is “fallout”, Rahal said, with these characters “dealing with” the disaster “coming down” on them. With Livewire’s takedown of the power in the USA, she’s also taken down other tech, including the brothers’ quantum bands that keep them stabilized as heroes.

We’re going to see them “down to the wire” and “cleaning up the streets”, Gorinson said. Rahal said that they’ll be responding as “humans” without the safety of their quantum bands, and it’s like “Towering Inferno” meets Quantum and Woody! Rahal said. The brothers have actually lost their powers, which makes it much harder to be heroes. Are they still heroes? What kind of people are they?

Gorinson said that the perception that Quantum and Woody are “comedy characters” is a little misleading, since this time we’ll see them interacting with the broader Valiant Universe as “true blue superheroes”.

Rahal loves the fact that they are brothers, and Rahal relates that to his relationship with his own brother, he said. Though his brother is probably both Quantum and Woody in this relationship, and he’s probably the goat.

Now the deep question will be answered—what happens if the brothers don’t “Klang”, will be addressed in this series. Rahal said that the story will get “cosmic” and “magical” and definitely “fun”. The first issue will land on May 30th, at the same time as Harbinger Wars 2 #1.

Also coming up, but even sooner, will be the Secret Weapons: Owen’s Story #0 special, which is similar in arc to the Nikki Finch one-shot that traced her origins. But in this story, Owen is having a garage sale for all the items he’s conjured in his life. Owen is a rejected psiot and member of the Secret Weapons team who conjures objects, with no way to control it, and doesn’t know why. Now those objects are getting the focus with innovative art by Raul Allen and Patricia Martin.

There’s more “action” in this book, which shows off Raul Allen’s potential as an action artist, Gorinson said.

X-O Manowar #14 will be landing in April, and tying into HW2. Kindt’s year of exploring Aric of Dacia’s exile is coming to a close and in this special issue drawn by Ariel Olivetti, we’ll witness Aric’s return to Earth. This is the final chapter in Aric’s “offworld saga”, Gorinson said.

A new arc, “Barbarians” starts in X-O Manowar #15, drawn by Trevor Hairsine and written by Kindt. There’s going to be a theme of bigotry addressed in different centuries from Aric’s life, as he goes on a journey to retrieve a friend’s brother who’s been captured, Simons said.

We’re going to get to see a less limited view of Aric’s past in “Barbarians”, Gorinson said, with a bigger canvas, drawing in North Africa, Persia, and other areas of the Mediterranean than we’ve seen before as parts of Aric’s past.

Bloodshot Salvation #7, known as “the black issue” written and illustrated by Jeff Lemire, and will be told “in darkness” but not every page is all black. Lemire’s art reveals the use of SFX, drawn speech boxes, and more. It definitely “breaks conventions”, Gorinson said.

Simons said that when Lemire brought it up, they knew that Bloodshot was journeying through the Deadside, looking for a cure to save his ill daughter. The character needs to be able to narrate without being able to see, and Lemire’s ideas “blew away his expectations”. It has line art, just not traditional line art, and tons of “story” to it. Simons described it as a “beautiful, wonderful, immersive experience” that Lemire has put a lot of heart into.

Issue #9 will be a “standalone” issue that digs into the mythology of the nanite Bloodshot program, and it’ll be all about Blood Hound, going back to WWI, written by Lemire and Ray Fawkes, and drawn by Kenneth Rocafort.

Gorinson revealed that Blood Hound was actually the first experiment of the Bloodshot program.

Bloodshot Salvation #10 will start a new arc called “The Book of Revelations”, and take place in 4002. Written by Lemire and drawn by Doug Braithwaite, the arc reunites them as a team. And there will be dinosaurs, like in the Book of Death, where there are some parallels. Our modern day Bloodshot will be the first character to journey to the 41st century on a mission, Gorinson said.

Another big new arc this Spring will be “The Coalition” beginning in Ninja-K #6. Christos Gage and Tomas Giorello have fleshed out the world of Ninjak and now things are going “international” as Juan Jose Ryp joins the book. We’ll see Ninjak put together his own black ops team, with Ginger, Punk Mambo, and more. It’ll be a “super team vs super team showdown”, Gorinson said.

Ninjak needs the team because he stumbles onto something bigger than he knew and gets his “ass kicked” and nearly dies in Mexico, so he needs back up. Characters we haven’t seen in awhile will pop up, drawn from Unity and other stories, Gorinson said.

Shadowman #1 lands in March 2018, with art by Stephen Segovia and written by Andy Diggle. There’s a “two year plus” roadmap in place on this project, Gorinson said. Simons spoke about working with Diggle in constructing a two year arc, which “reinvigorates Jack and puts him on the map” regarding what he’s been up to.

This is “not a reboot”, Gorinson assured fans, but “honors” the past of the character. The second arc will start in issue #4, and last for 3 issues of 30 pages each. “Dead and Gone” will feature Jack’s ancestor from the 1940’s, set in Harlem, another story with his ancestor set in 1865, and another issue will be set in 40,000BC and will explore the origin of the Loa.

Simons described Jack as a “character in search of who he is” in a way that’s different from other superhero stories. In a way it’s a “time travel story”, Simons said as he journeys through the past of his “curse”.

Back in time for Halloween, there will  also be a Shadowman arc called “Rag and Bone”, which will bring back Master Darque. This is kind of a final showdown between the Boniface family and their foes.

The Life and Death of Toyo Harada #1, a six issue prestige series, will arrive in “early 2019”, and bring back Joshua Dysart on a Valiant book. We’ll find out where Harada has been, but also the “unrevealed chapters” of his life that contain big revelations. Simons said that his relationship goes back to the beginning of the relaunch of Valiant. Dysart has always “put an enormous amount” into the Valiant Universe, Simons reflected, including 40-50 issues of writing. This story will be the culmination of the story he’s always been telling about Toyo Harada, Simons explained. Dysart is very interested in politics and technology, and he’s made Harada “iconic”.