Robert Ven­ditt i

He’s at the very heart of Valiant’s big cross­over plans, and lov­ing it

Comic Heroes - - Contents - By Stephen Jewell

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.

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