Hunter Gorinson introduced Eric Heisserer, Rafer Roberts, Warren Simons, Jeff Lemire, and Dinesh Shamdasani for the panel, with plenty of applause for these really accomplished creators.
Talking first about the “ICONS” incentive in the Valiant Universe, Shamdasani explained that 2016 was about trying new things and innovating in the company via new characters and titles, but they took some “big toys” off the table in order to do that, but now they can bring the big characters back to fans.
There’s going to be a lot of push for X-O Manowar, and we can expect issue #1 to be epic. We meet Aric of Dacia living on an alien planet and leading a quiet life, but he’s conscripted as a soldier and things change fast. The first year is planned out for the series. The first three issues are “soldier”, then “general”, then “emperor” and “visigoth”, each group by different artists. This is going to be the first “truly cosmic” Valiant title.
Shamdasani said that taking this cosmic is to tap into a different part of the character. Here they are exploring the big cosmic side of the Valiant U, and this builds on the “long journey” in the previous arc for the character. Matt Kindt as writer picks up and drills down to the core concept of what makes the character great, with his belief in protecting the weak, Simons said.
[Art from X-O Manowar #1, out March 22nd, by Tomas Giorello]
The second miniseries for Britannia is also coming up in 2017 for Valiant. Simons explained that in this arc, the god Apollo has come to life and is killing citizens, and there’s a mysterious female gladiator, a “gladiatrix” getting a big following. Meanwhile, citizens are getting sick, and the mystery linking those events deepens. Using psychology, and deduction our main character tries to solve the mystery. Asked why this book was included in the Valiant Universe, Shamdasani said that the Valiant U extends into the past, and you can tell historical stories too. One day they may just tell a fully biographical story in the Valiant Universe, Shamdasani said.
[Interior art on Britannia: We Who Are About To Die #1]
Also coming up is Immortal Brothers: Tale of the Green Knight featuring Archer and Armstrong. It has an interesting framework where Faith is sick and Archer tells her this story. Some of Cary Nord’s artwork premiered during the panel. It’s a huge 48 pages and there will be three more one-shots over the summer, as modern-day updates of the greatest Valiant tales ever told. They are stories that fans have been asking them to “do their versions of” for a long time, Shamdasani said.
In May, the four issue self-contained event Rapture arrives. Shadowman is a character they get asked about “the most” in the Valiant Universe. Ninjak is going to be heading into the Deadside for an adventure with Punk Mambo and Shadowman. It’s “Lord of the Rings for the Valiant Universe“, Gorinson said. We learn through a character called Babel that there’s such a thing called the “Aliveside” which caused great destruction on the earth once in the past once unleashed. This will delve into Shadowman mythology deeply.
Secret Weapons is the big summer event, written by Eric Heisserer (writer of film Arrival) in his first comic work for Valiant, but not his first Valiant work since he’s working on the Bloodshot film for Sony. While Secret Weapons builds out of the Harbinger side of the universe, this series will introduce new characters. He wanted to talk about the roll of the dice when psiots get their powers, what happens if you get a power, but you’re told its useless? Being a reject thrown in the bin means being placed in a terrible facility in Oklahoma, and Livewire finds out about this and wants to protect these kids, who are being hunted down.
[Artwork on Secret Weapons #1]
Artwork by Raul Allen was previewed in the panel. One of the reject powered kids has the power to talk to birds. Characters will include Owen Cho, Nicole Finch, Martin Tyus, and Sunil. The road to the “big bad” in this book will be a character from the original Valiant, Rex-O. He’s the lead in to the big bad, Heisserer said. There will be some more mythology worked in there about how he is able to adapt to other peoples’ powers, Heisserer said.
Asked about collaborating on the comics after working with Heisserer on the films, Shamdasani said Heisserer is a straight-up genius, a true comic book fan, who went to Oklahoma conventions as a kid, and it’s been a joy to see him geeking out at ECCC. “We need more people like that in all forms of media”, Shamdasani said. Heisser said that Valiant fans are just the coolest fans (to applause).
There is going to be a pre-order bundle for Secret Weapons, for issues #1-4, with four 48 page issues and it will have some process material and reveals on the series.
Regarding Harbinger Renegade #5, the start of the event “Massacre” teased by Valiant this week as the road to Harbinger Wars 2, there is going to be the death of a major character in issue #5. Shamdasani
Regarding Harbinger Renegade #4, the dominoes leading to Harbinger Wars 2 start to get to set up in that issue. The Renegades team previously went up against Toyo Harada, and in doing so made the world a much worse place, Simons said. They try to put their lives back together, but realize they can’t live that way. They are brought back together with some possible “good” to do in the world. This next arc is them taking that to the next level, Simons said. They may make some mistakes, but with the best intentions. The phrase “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” will start playing out in the next few issues, Simons said.
This will all be moving things toward Harbinger Wars 2 in 2018, but before that we’ll see Harbinger Wars 2 #0, shipping in December 2017.
Shamdasani said he’s excited about Harbinger Renegade after issue #5, since there will a character arriving who will have a big impact after the “Massacre”. Teasers were shown of a close up on a vampire-looking character.
[Art from Bloodshot: Salvation]
Bloodshot Salvation #1, announced at ECCC, is also coming up as an ongoing series. Jeff Lemire is writing the series and he said that he previously went into Reborn with an ambitious plan, and Bloodshot USA seemed like it would be his big saga and he’d move on. But following that, he found himself missing the character and asked to do some more. He wrote a zero issue that ties off the former arc more completely and then wanted to start into something new.
The biggest change will be that it jumps ahead in time and Bloodshot seems to have a daughter, Jesse. This is also going to have two artists, the book of revenge, the book of death, and the book of salvation, Lemire said. This first arc will have a weird intersection touching on faith and the alt-right, and the second arc will be a horror story, which he hasn’t done with Bloodshot before. Bloodhound may appear in the second arc, Lemire teased. Magic will grow into a Sarah Conner like figure as badass mom protecting Jesse, Lemire said. After 25 issues of Bloodshot, there was never any major supervillain, but PRS was a big part of the Bloodshot storyline, so Lemire thought it would be interesting to mutate it into something new.
Simons said that Lemire will call him up and talk about 20 issues of amazing stuff. He has an extraordinary ability to lay out a huge amount of content which Simons hasn’t seen elsewhere in his career, Simons said. Lemire loves characters in Marvel and DC, but those universes are so old that it’s hard to do something new, but the Valiant U seems so young, like a blank slate by comparison, that you can add to in a way that matters, Lemire said.
We are going to see more classical-style villains in this arc, Simons confirmed.
A great place to check out teasers on many of these upcoming series, will be the Free Comic Book Day issue, Gorinson said, which will feature “Bloodshot: Salvation”. Secret Weapons will also be previewed inside, described as a “taste”.
[Art from the Free Comic Book Day 2017 issue]
Valiant is also going on the Warped Tour this summer, of course, going to 40 comics. This came to Valiant through the charity Keep a Breast, where Faith is their official spokesperson. Warped Tour is another partner, and now they are all working together. The poster for the Warped Tour is featuring Valiant characters by artist Kano.
This is the first time that Warped Tour are integrating comics as a big part of the tour, Gorinson said. They are hoping to do live art, and getting local retailers involved in cities connected to the tour.
Asked when the Bloodshot movie is coming out, Eric Heisserer and Dinesh Shamdasani said that they have a director, Dave Wilson, an announcement for fans.
[UPDATE: Wilson is Tim Miller’s (the director of Deadpool) partner at Blur Studios. He is one of the leading directors in special effects and video game commercials. You might know him from major promo pieces forHalo, Titanfall 2 and the recent mini movie for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Bloodshot, however, will be his first feature film.]
Here are some examples of his work:
But the release date for Bloodshot will just depend on a number of factors coming together within a certain timeframe. If they come together quickly, the film could be announced by summer. If they take longer, it will be longer, and that’s just how the process is moving, Shamdasani said.
Asked about more Funko POPs, Shamdasani said they are definitely coming, but they are having conversations while here in Washington State.