The Valiant 25th Anniversary Tour panel at WonderCon on Saturday, featured Hunter Gorinson, Dinesh Shamdasani (CEO), Fred Van Lente (Ivar Timewalker), Ryan Winn (inker on Divinity).
Gorinson introduced us to the company's 25th year, and Valiant 2.0. He moved straight into the new series Ivar Timewalker written by Van Lente. Van Lente talked about his "functionally immortal" characters, and described Ivar as a wanderer who's smart enough to "screw you over" if he wants to. Van Lente is happy to be working with Francis Portella again. The second arc for Ivar begins in May and is called "Breaking History". It follows a group who tries to steal time-travel knowledge for themselves, and a new group from a parallel universe who tries to get involved. Ivar has to recruit a team of people throughout the time line of the Valiant Universe, including a past Gilad from 2000BC. Van Lente had a chance to write all of the immortal brothers interacting in 2013, but now gets to do a whole arc doing so. One of the things that's fun about time travel books is to come up with ideas of how we will evolve, Van Lente said, and he came up with "Lurkers" in the series who travel from past versions of social media through time travel. One of them attempts to draw a penis on Hitler's forehead and Shamdasani and Van Lente discussed why they hadn't made that a cover to one of their books given its favored status as an idea in the Valiant offices.
Van Lente brought up Stephen Hawking, and the question he poses about why haven't we met any time-travellers if it will ever be invented. It's called "the chronological protection conjecture", in Ivar. Ivar "lies a lot" though, even though this is what he's telling people about why they haven't met time travelers before this point. "Breaking History", the title of the second arc in May gives you an idea of that.
Gorinson introduced the new series Divinity, the first all-new character series in the Valiant Universe since its return in 2012. Inker Ryan Winn calls the character Abraham, and not "Divinity" as he's known in the book. He's a Russian cosmonaut from the 1960s, but he's part of a personal story that we can "all identify with" and the question of how we "handle power" when we reach your goals. Wynn is a "fan" of the book himself so works hard to do justice to Matt Kindt's writing and Trevor Hairsine's linework. It felt like a mystery to him rather than a sci-fi or a superhero story to Wynn, due to Matt Kindt's writing. The upcoming issue #3 deals with various timelines in the fight between Divinity and his attackers. There's one point where Divinity, who can control energy, can go back and see his memories play out. He speaks about memories as a book, the pages of which only touch when the book closes, and in issue #1, which discusses this, there's an impact when you actually close the book, something Matt Kindt came up with. Wynn called Divinity "jazz brought to superhero comics". Gorinson said they'll be plenty of talk about Divinity "all summer".
Ninjak, whose issue 1 came out last month, has been a "huge hit" for Valiant, Gorinson said, and people have been asking for him to get his own book for a very long time. It takes place in 3 different time-lines and issue #2 actually has a "storybook sequence" coming up. Shamdasani described Ninjak as "James Bond if he was kind of an A-hole", a stuck up British guy. He promised that by the end of the 4th issue, you will see how things tie together in such an unusual way that you will want to go back to the beginning and read the series again. One character we'll be seeing a lot of is Roku, and there'll be an origin issue for her drawn by Marguerite Sauvage. It will be done in a different style but ties into the main narrative.
Imperium, another title released this year is a "spiritual successor" to Harbinger. Shamdasani described it as a "villains" tale about a "psychic dictator" featuring lovable killing machine sentient AI like "Sunlight on Snow". There's also an alien assassin and "Broken Angel", all of whom live on an aircraft carrier in the Somali Gulf. The first story arc, "Collecting Monsters" has a spotlight issue for each major cast member. Also #5 will introduce Scot Eaton to artwork on the Valiant Universe.
Another "atypical" series this summer will be called Dead Drop by Ales Kot and Adam Gorham. Kot had done a short story for Deadman for Valiant before, but now several characters from Quantum & Woody are coming together to deal with a virus that will potentially destroy the world. It starts with X-0 Manowar chasing a woman down the streets of New York because she has this virus. Raul Allen will be doing some highly creative covers for this series that's just gone to the printers.
Spinning out of the final pages of The Valiant, Bloodshot Reborn is arriving very soon, April 15th as Jeff Lemire's first ongoing series for Valiant. Valiant showed the audience an animated trailer for Bloodshot Reborn that was pretty impressive, and seemed to suggest Bloodshot's emotions and personality more than previous work I've seen, with particular emphasis on the cover that shows Bloodshot walking underneath his own red sun like it's a burden or controlling factor in his life separate from his kind of humanity. Jeff Lemire will be doing artwork for this book, but none of it can be shown yet for reason of spoilers. It's more similar to Twin Peaks than it is to Iron Man, Gorinson said, and Shamdasani described as a "true epic". One of the Easter Eggs for the series is that Matt Kindt will be guest starring as a cameo as one of Bloodshot's doctors. Butch Guice's artwork was shown for arc 2, and arc 3 by Lewis Larosa, all the way up to issue #10 in 2016. Lemire has plotted 25 issues so far.
Bloodshot Reborn is not the only big thing that is spinning out of The Valiant. Every year Valiant does one big event, Gorinson said, and coming up is the Book of Death. Today they can tell us more about it. It is going to feature the "fall of X-O Manowar, the fall of Ninjak, the fall of Harbinger, the fall of Blooshot" and that's all going to begin with the new Geomancer at the end of The Valiant #4. And in the Valiant Universe "dead is dead", Shamdasani reminded us. No resurrections or reboots. Fred Van Lente will also be working on Book of Death, the panel revealed.
But it's not all doom and gloom, there is going to be a wedding spectacular for X-O Manowar. He's the leader of his people now, and looking toward the future. He needs an heir, and is in love, so decides to move ahead. It's a 48 page issue for 4.99. It's written by Robert Venditti and "guests" and a cover by Rafa Sandoval. It's also coming in July.
Free Comic Book Day will bring Valiant's 25th Anniversary Special, including a "prelude" to Bloodshot Reborn and will bridge between it and the end of The Valiant. It will hint at things coming up in the next year at Valiant.
During the Q&A session, an audience member asked about their "vision" for the Valiant Cinematic Universe. Shamdasani recapped the partnership and a "lot of money" which means they can control the creative direction of the Universe. Which characters will come first? They're doing their best to keep things under wraps, but Bloodshot has leaked. They are "much further along" than has been reported.
Shamdasani was asked if Valiant will ever cross over with other publishers' universes and he said that they've been approached a fair amount and under the right circumstances it might happen "some day".