Interview: With ‘Planet Death,’ Robert Venditti Starts Cracking Open The ‘X-O Manowar’ Armor

They took his people, they took his hand, and they took centuries of his life on Earth away. Now, Aric is taking the war back to the alien invaders of the Vine in the upcoming “Planet Death” story arc in Valiant’s “X-O Manowar.” The event kicks off with a prelude in January 23rd’s issue #9, so we spoke to the book’s writer, New York Times bestselling author Robert Venditti about sending angry Visogoth in a super-powered suit to war against an entire planet–plus the return of the X-O Commando armor.

MTV Geek: The new arc sees Aric taking the war to the Vine. Tell us a little about how the two sides see each other at this point?

Robert Venditti: Aric sees the Vine as the enemy, and things don’t really need to be more complex that that for him. They’re the enemy, and he wants to wipe them out. As for as how the Vine view Aric, that’s where things get more complicated. Some of them see him as a threat to their way of life, someone who needs to be killed so their sacred Manowar armor can be returned to them. But others see Aric as the chosen wearer of the armor, which is something they’ve been waiting a very long time for. To them, Aric represents the fulfillment of the prophecy their entire religion is based on.

MTV: Along the same lines–where is Aric’s head at this point? How’s he dealing with the massive passage of time?

Venditti: He’s alone and alienated, but he really hasn’t had much time to ponder his plight. From the minute he crashed down in the Colosseum and went head to head with the Italian military, he’s been hounded by those who want to take the armor from him. He’ll reach his boiling point in the prelude to “Planet Death,” and ultimately he’ll decide it’s his turn to go on the attack.

MTV: In his former life, Aric was used to fending off invaders. How will being on the other side of that, the attacking force, affect him?

Venditti: He’s been waiting for this moment his entire life. His understanding of the Roman Empire was that they had better technology and weapons, and as a result Aric’s Visigoths were usually outmatched against them. One of the tragedies of Aric’s character is he was taken by the Vine just a few years before the Visigoths sacked Rome, so he never got the chance to experience life as anything other than under Rome’s heel. He has all of this pent-up anger towards conquering empires, and now he finds himself in the modern day, facing an alien menace that wants to eradicate humanity. The difference is now he has the better weapon—the sentient X-O Manowar armor, the most powerful weapon in the universe.

MTV: Care to hint at one of the more interesting things we’ll see on the Vine homeworld?

Venditti:
Issue 11 will open with several pages that relate the Vine’s history on their homeworld and the reasons for their worship of the Manowar armor. The pages are narrated by the Vine High Priest, and Cary drew them in a style that really captures the religious tone. It’s beautiful, intricate stuff.

MTV: On the Vine side of the equation, who’s a character to watch?

Venditti: The two-part prelude is all about the conflict between Aric and Commander Trill, the Vine soldier responsible for Aric’s capture sixteen centuries ago. Once we get to the Vine homeworld, the Vine High Priest will play a huge role. We’ll be introducing some new characters as well, but to say who they are would be giving too much away at this point.

MTV: For lack of a better word, the armor is getting deconstructed a little bit in the upcoming arc. Tell us a little about some of the planning that went into its origins and capabilities.

Venditti:
Most of what we’re going to learn in the Planet Death arc are story elements that were in my original pitch for the series. We spent a lot of time at the outset laying down what the background of the Manowar armor was—how it was created, what it means to the Vine, how disruptive Aric’s bond with the armor would be to the Vine, and so on. These are key pieces of the Valiant Universe, and there wouldn’t be much point in launching the series if we didn’t have those things pinned down. It’s great to have the opportunity to finally get them on the page and let people read them. Now we can start mapping out what the next year of the series is going to be.

MTV: What were some things you shelved when it came to what the armor could and could not do? Are there still secrets in store after this arc?

Venditti: Plenty of secrets still to come. So many, I can’t imagine how long it’d take to get to them all. As for the armor, we definitely wanted it to have limitations. It’s extremely powerful and durable, but we’ve already shown that it can be injured. Another thing we wanted to stay away from was time travel, because that’s such a powerful ability. There are several powers yet to be revealed, though, two of which we’ll get to in issues nine and ten.

MTV: Speaking of armor, tell us about working the X-O Commando armor into this series. Whose idea was it? What kind of plans do you have for other armor permutations?

Venditti: The idea of there being multiple armor classes comes from the original series, so that’s preexisting material that we’re building on. Our version of the X-O Commando armor is different from the VH1 version, though. For one thing, it doesn’t have the healing ability that the original version of the Commando armor had. It’s still formidable, but nowhere near as formidable as the armor Aric will soon find himself going up against.

MTV: Finally, fill in the blanks: in X-O Manowar, the only thing more dangerous than ____________ is ______________.

Venditti: The only thing more dangerous than the Manowar armor is the one who controls it.

The prelude to “Planet Death” kicks off with a prelude in January 23rd’s issue #9. The event begins with “X-O Manowar” #11 on March 20th.

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