Robert Venditt i
He’s at the very heart of Valiant’s big crossover plans, and loving it
It’s not often that a comics creator gets to launch an entire superhero line from the ground up. But that was the opportunity that was presented to Robert Venditti when he was asked to helm the fledgling Valiant Entertainment’s inaugural title, X-O
Manowar, in May 2012. Since then, both the rapidly burgeoning Valiant-verse (based on former Acclaim characters from the early 1990s) and the Atlanta-based scribe have gone from strength to strength.
Having made his name with his creatorowned Top Shelf sci-fi crime series The
Surrogates – which was made into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Bruce Willis in 2009 – Venditti made his first foray into monthly assignments with X-O Manowar. Two years on, he has not only added DC’s Green Lantern and
Green Lantern Corp to his bow, he is now set to pen his first ever event book in the form of June’s Armor Hunters four-parter. And there’s also the no-small matter of May’s X-O
Manowar #25 double-sized anniversary extravaganza, which will also boast contributions from the likes of Bryan Hitch, Terry Dodson and JG Jones.
Comic Heroes: You were tasked with kicking off the Valiant-verse with X-O Manowar. Was that a daunting prospect?
Robert Venditti: “It was a lot of weight to put on one title’s shoulders. For one month, the entire line was just X-O Manowar. But it all worked out, although for a multitude of reasons, it could just as easily have not, so I was very relieved, to say the least.”
CH: As an ancient warrior in a futuristic alien suit of armour, X-O Manowar is a very different protagonist to the likes of Captain America and Batman. What first drew you to him?
RV: “It’ll be three years in June since I started working on my pitch for the series and what interested me in him then is what continues
X-O Manowar would win a fight with Iron Man, hands down!
to interest me today, and that’s the main character, Aric of Dacia. The idea of a timedisplaced Visigoth trying to find his way in the modern world is so ripe with conflict and storytelling possibilities.
“It’s also allowed me to explore the concept of heroism and how it changes over time. Throughout the series, Aric has behaved as a hero would in the 5th century, but in the 21st century that behaviour is seen as almost villainous. I find that fascinating.”
CH: Aric was originally co-created by veteran
Iron Man artist Bob Layton, so do you think he has much in common with Tony Stark?
RV: “If you’re asking who would win in a fight between them, the answer is X-O Manowar, hands down! Tony Stark is a smart guy, and he has deep pockets, but no one would ever claim that the Iron Man armour is the most powerful weapon in the universe. The Manowar armour is on an entirely different level.”
CH: Armor Hunters is your first venture into line-wide crossover territory…
RV: “It’s a new challenge for me which is always what draws me to a project. As risk averse as I am in my daily life, for some reason as a writer I’m compelled to chase the riskiest jobs available so I guess I’m riddled with
paradox. But it was just something that grew organically out of what we’ve been doing all along in X-O Manowar. The story presented itself, and now we’re going to tell it.”
CH: Apart from X-O Manowar, will Armor Hunters tie in with Valiant’s other titles such as its team book Unity?
RV: “I’ll confirm that Unity and X-O
Manowar will be involved, but beyond that, I don’t want to say. There’ll definitely be more titles taking part, though. I will say that Valiant has always had a great writers’ room atmosphere, and working with the rest of the group is a real benefit and the stories are better because of it. As for what else to expect from the book, the answer is a lot as there’ll be plenty of revelations and also some entirely new concepts and characters. It’s the largest, most sweeping story X-O Manowar has been a part of to date.”
CH: Does it involve the titular hunters coming to Earth to claim the armour?
RV: “Actually, they don’t want to claim the armour at all; they want to destroy it. Much of X-O Manowar to date has centred on everyone wanting the armour. Aric wanted it, the Vine wanted it back, Unity wanted it, and then Harada took it from Unity. Everyone thinks that the person wearing the armour is the most powerful, but we’ll come to learn that inside the armour is the absolute last place you want to be.”
CH: Armor Hunters is illustrated by the British artist Doug Braithwaite, who recently did some great work on Unity. Have you been impressed by his efforts?
RV: “Doug sent over the first five pages of Armor Hunters #1 and I stared at them for the entire afternoon. This is a supremely challenging story in terms of the cast and concept but he communicates everything to the page so beautifully. The storytelling is there and the emotion is there. He somehow managed to draw a character with no facial features in a way that you know exactly what that character’s personality is. It’s remarkable!”
CH: It’s been three years since your last creator-owned book, The Homeland Directive. Do you hope to return to some more personal projects?
RV: “I haven’t published any creator-owned comics in a while, but that’s because I’m writing a pair of novels for Simon & Schuster’s Young Readers imprint and the first one, Miles Taylor And The Golden Cape: The Attack Of The Alien Horde, will be out in May 2015. Beyond that, I do have plans for more creator-owned comics as well, which includes a return to the world of The Surrogates. There so much I still want to do.”
Armor Hunters begins with a special zero issue story in X-O Manowar #25 in May; the miniseries starts in June.
Above: Venditti has swapped the sci-fi tale of
The Surrogates for the world of Visigoth warrior Aric of Dacia in X-O
Manowar and its summer
event Armor Hunters.