ECCC 2013: Valiant Comics Enters The Summer Of 'Harbinger Wars'

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Valiant publisher Fred Pierce was joined by artists Barry Kitson and Stefano Gaudiano, Dinesh Shamdasani (he's the guy who bought the line a couple of years back in order to resurrect it), and marketing director Hunter Gorinson to talk about "Harbinger Wars" and beyond during this Emerald City Comic-Con panel.

First up, "X-O Manowar" #11, featuring art by Cary Nord, will have a five-page storybook-style prelude that tells the story of the X-O armor. The "Planet Death" arc, which sees Aric attempting to stop an alien invasion by invading the aliens first, will introduce a new alien species along with the Vine.

"Harbinger Wars" begins on April 3 with art by Clayton Crain ("X-Force"), providing Valiant with their first standalone miniseries since the relaunch. As we've detailed before, the miniseries is a crossover between "Harbinger" and "Bloodshot" pitting the Harbinger Renegades against Bloodshot. The story opens with the Renegades heading to Vegas to rescue a group of Harbinger kids.

April 17 brings "Bloodshot" #10 with Barry Kitson ("The Order") taking over the art chores. That issue, written by Duane Swierczynski, sees the title character attempting to explore his origins at the Project Rising Spirit facility, only to find a group of Harbinger kids who are terrified of him as it becomes clear that he was the one who imprisoned them.

Gaudiano chimed in to say that inking Kitson's work on "Bloodshot" involves curbing his own work in order to allow the artist's lines to get the spotlight. Kitson admitted to not knowing much about the line until visiting the Valiant panel at New York Comic-Con, discovering the books and ultimately getting excited about the lineup. "[Bloodshot] is a little bit of a departure for me," Kitson explained, saying that the book would allow him to go a little more gory. "I wanted to draw [Bloodshot] as a convincingly fit fighting machine rather than an over-muscled superhero type."

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Looking back at his time at Marvel, Kitson reflected on the cancellation of the post "Civil War"-event series "The Order" which was writen by Matt Fraction. Kitson lamented the book's cancellation due to the massive tie-in push ("The Order" avoided that period's cycle of links and crossovers to other books).

"Harbinger" #11 will feature two separate timelines, one set in the present with art by Khari Evans showing the trip to Vegas while Trevor Hairsine illustrates flashback sequences set in the 60's from the first Harbinger War with Toyo Harada leading a group of his own Psi-Ots against a faction of renegades. Joshua Dysart will be writing that book.

May will bring a #0 issue of "Archer & Armstrong," from writer Fred Van Lente featuring all three brothers, Ivar, Armstrong, and Gilad in a "Three Musketeers"-style tale. It's presented as the true story of the epic of "Gilgamesh" (as told by Armstrong), with the three brothers seeking the mysterious Boon which granted two of them immortality. They'll travel to the land of Faraway where they'll encounter super science and dinosaurs.

This week's issue of "Shadowman," #5, beginning a new arc. Patrick Zircher will be writing the script which introduces a major character in the Valiant universe both past and present. The #0 issue will feature the origin of Master Darque, taking us through the summer of 2013. The death-obsessed Darque, who was featured prominently in the original Valiant has been plaguing hero Jack Boniface in his attempts to cross over into our universe.

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Reflecting on the Valiant lineup, Fred Pierce, a fixture in the industry (he joked that when he worked at the original Valiant, he was responsible for afflicting the industry with chromium covers), talked about the slow rollout of the current crop of books at a slow and steady clip "so that the industry could absorb us." Their plan wasn't to overwhelm readers and force them to make choices, but to allow them to work what they like into their pull list.

Looking at digital, Shamdasani says that things are so early right now with that platform, that they're considering it a promotional arm for them. He says he's heard anecdotes about readers getting a free #1 issue and heading into a comic shop to pick up print issues of the book. Pierce is doubtful that print will go away, but I think this is a bit hopeful for print.

When asked about variant covers, Shamdasani says that they are an industry necessity (he noted that an upcoming "X-O" issue will feature the sound of a goat... hmm), but that they were aware at Valiant that too many of them could become white noise to fans.

Shamdasani says they're a very comic book-focused company, but that movies have been in development for years. At this point, "Bloodshot" has producer Neal Moritz attached with "Kickass 2" writer-director Jeff Wadlow and "X-Men: First Class" director Matthew Vaughn directing, while John Michael Straczynski is writing the "Shadowman" film. Their plan is to be deliberate in how they approach the film properties, with Shamdasani saying that he and the rest of the company are aware of the fickleness of Hollywood.

When a fan asked about characters like Solar and Magnus, he referred the reader to the Dark Horse booth (DH currently holds the rights to the characters although there's some dispute about the ownership of the the Valiant-era versions and the Gold Key classic versions).

You can check out a preview of the first issue of "Harbinger Wars" #1 below:

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