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“Big, epic sci-fi with apocalyptic powers”: Fred Van Lente talks Psi-Lords series

The cosmic superhero tale debuts June 19.

In the past couple years, Valiant Entertainment has been cooking up truly great superhero stories. This month, they continue the streak with a brand-new team of heroes, Psi-Lords. Written by Fred Van Lente (Cowboys & Aliens, X-Men Noir), and with art from Renato Guedes, the series is described as “wildly imaginative and off-the-walls bonkers,” a story with a big secret set in deep space, dealing with characters learning to cope with strange new powers.

Before the book hit shelves June 19, I had a chance to speak with Van Lente about inspirations behind the series, the artwork, the importance of the setting, and much, much more.

AiPT!: Hi Fred, thanks for taking the time answering a few questions. Tell us a little about Psi-Lords — is there an audience that’ll dig it the most?

Fred Van Lente: People who like bad comics will hate it. I mean hate it. Really, really hate it. So you should only read it if you like good comics. And science fiction, and super heroes, and beautiful artwork, and clever writing. And explosions. Telepathy. Aliens. Spaceships. Wrecks of spaceships.

AiPT!: I got a chance to peek at issue #1, and Renato Guedes’ work is incredible. Photo-realistic even. Has working with Renato changed how you’ve scripted the series at all?

FVL: Absolutely. I keep throwing crazy designs at him for creatures and tech and alien characters and he keeps outdoing my wildest imaginings. He definitely makes it feel like a European science fiction graphic album more than an American superhero book, in the best way imaginable.

AiPT!: Are there any works of fiction (or even non-fiction) that inspired your story here?

FVL: I really wanted to do a big, epic science fiction story with lots of big ideas and apocalyptic powers, so I guess something like Dune would be the obvious comparison. It’s really like nothing else I’ve attempted in superhero comics before, so I’ve been incredibly grateful for Valiant to give me the opportunity to work at it. I also wanted this great cosmic mystery that will keep readers guessing until the very end, and so far Psi-Lords is shaping up to be just that.

AiPT!: How do you approach tackling a fight scene? I know some writers leave it to the artist, but maybe you go into more detail?

FVL: It depends. A couple of my Valiant collaborators — like Pere Perez, who has a black belt, and so knows his way around such things — want to take care of their own fight scenes. Psi-Lords‘ fights are a little different, because you’re dealing with people who have vast powers beyond our puny imaginings, so I try to lean more on Renato’s ability to go big with the visuals. As opposed to a Jackie Chan fight, where everything is very granular and detailed, these are more like massive visual spectacles, like fireworks displays. Does that make sense?

AiPT!: There’s an organic, or maybe techno-organic thing going on with backgrounds. Will that be explored further as the series progresses? Thanks for your time!

FVL: Renato is thinking out the environments very carefully, so yeah, most everything has been placed there for a reason that will pay off at some point during the series.

You can find Psi-Lords #1 in your local comic book shop June 19th. You can also pre-order it on Amazon right now.

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