Saturday was a busy day in Baltimore for the publishers. Not only was there a Marvel and DC panel, but Valiant had one as well. Valiant’s panel included Hunter Gorinson, Fred Pierce, Matt Kindt, Robert Venditti, Clayton Henry, and Dinesh Shamdasani.
The panel started off with some big news. Book of Death has been the biggest and most successful crossover event from an independent publisher in a decade. Maybe even bigger news was the reveal that another character will be donning the X-O armor and the armor and helmet itself has received a redesign from Clayton Henry.
Before the panel started talking about their upcoming arcs and books, Clayton Henry was asked what his favorite book to draw is. He answered with Archer & Armstrong because he loves doing the facial expressions of Armstrong and the contrast between light-heartedness and anger.
The first book Valiant and Robert Venditti talked about is their upcoming Wrath of the Eternal Warrior. Venditti hopes to look at the cost of immortality and what the Eternal Warrior sacrifices. He explained how Gilad is an eternal optimist and how he has to be one in order to continue to fight over millennia. Venditti also explained Gilad’s belief that humanity can do good. One of the biggest things to expect in this issue is the amazing artwork by Raul Allen. Venditti explained, and they gave us a brief glimpse of a few panels, how Allen is able to express a range of different senses from smells to sounds that are otherwise difficult to convey through a comic.
Next up was Ninjak. Matt Kindt began explaining a number of the new villains he has been introducing in the on-going Shadow Wars arc. He described La Barbe as a billionaire recluse and how he came up with the name by simply googling foreign words for Beard and the French version stuck. He described Sanguine as a blood-sucking bad guy and how his original sketches had her with a layer of fur. As Kindt did, and I am now doing, he went off track and talked about how he normally sketches out his characters before he writes in order to visualize them and their actions. Getting back to the villains, Matt began describing Fitzy as one of Dr. Silk’s clones who has the memories of the other clones and has always been a henchman. However, he has become fed up with being a henchman and doesn’t want to be recycled or have his memories and experiences shared with other clones. He rebels and has been traveling the world in order to find new knowledge that he doesn’t already possess.
After the discussion on the Shadow Wars villains, the focus turned to the next arc, Operation Deadside. Ninjak will encounter Shadowman, but Kindt wanted to focus more on Ninjak’s belief in science and how he will struggle with the weirdness of Deadside. The weirdness bothers him so much he creates a custom suit so that he won’t have to interact with the environment of Deadside. This arc will also feature Punk Mambo who provides a new twist when it comes to voodoo. Instead of the loa riding the person, Punk Mambo rides the loa.
Valiant also unveiled that all of the shelf covers for Operation Deadside will be glow in the dark and that there are going to be four interlocking variant covers for each issue of the arc done by Clayton Henry which will also be glow in the dark. Clayton has also redesigned Shadowman!
Moving away from Ninjak, they focused a little bit on Bloodshot Reborn. Butch Guice returns to Bloodshot for this new arc that will look at the idea that not everyone possessed by the nanites thinks it’s a bad thing. They also revealed that this storyline has been over two years in the making and the art for Bloodshot Reborn is already completed up to issue 16.
Next up was Rai. Readers will get a good look at what Earth looks like in 4001 as Rai is thrown to Earth, forcing him to grow up and be his own person. He will have to live his own life as he leaves his parents’ home. Rai is away from his power source and thus able to be injured because he is cut off from Father. This will allow him the opportunity to build his own sword and heal.
Matt Kindt once again explained a bit about how he works. This time, he explained how he sits down with his artists and discusses what they like to draw and incorporates their preferences into his script.
Dinesh chimed in during this discussion to make sure we knew that 4001 will be central to Valiant for the next two years and there will be a strong focus on both the present and 4001 moving forward.
Death Defying Dr. Mirage was touched on briefly about how the story is unique as it focuses on love, how a couple can manage their relationship, and whether or not it can transcend the lack of physicality.
Finally, they discussed X-O Manowar and Commander Trill. Venditti explained how Aric has matured and is now playing peacemaker as he feels he is both the leader of the Vine and humanity. He has also brought back Commander Trill who has been working behind the scenes and now sees an opportunity to exploit with an entire fleet of Vine looking for a home.
Speaking of Trill, he will be getting his own one-shot and becomes a big bad for Aric. Venditti will explore what Trill was like growing up and reveal more about the Vine culture and why Trill is driven to destroy the Vine armor and Aric. He also revealed that by issue 50 all of the arcs will tie together.
Lastly, the panel took some Q&As. One of the questions involved the idea of killing off characters. Kindt gave a great response, “If it makes for a powerful story, it’s ok for the character to die.” He also noted that things can be at stake other than their life and the end of the Earth. It doesn’t have to be world-ending.
During the Q&A, Matt also revealed he is working on a sequel to Divinity that will most likely debut sometime in April with Trevor Hairsine on art.