Valiant Entertainment‘s shared superhero universe is one of the facets which set apart the publisher from other indies. For 25 years, the characters Bloodshot, Eternal Warrior, X-O Manowar, Ninjak, Shadowman, Rai, H.A.R.D. Corps, Archer & Armstrong, and the Harbingers have become well-established and fleshed out into iconic characters within the comic book industry. But it’s that “shared” aspect which leads to outstanding crossovers and tie-ins that can affect all titles, ultimately impacting the state of any given series’ direction while also honing in on a new campaign or focus for the company.
Whether it’s 4001 A.D., Book of Death, Armor Hunters, or Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe, Valiant has a gift for making crossovers memorable. But nothing is as massive as Valiant’s Harbinger Wars. A crossover event of epic proportions featuring a massive cast of characters with ramifications which will set the stage for the direction of the company and characters into the new year and Beyond (pun intended). Right now, Valiant is amidst in its HARBINGER WARS 2 event which pits some of their most famed characters at odds, to say the least. Eisner Award-nominated writer Matt Kindt and superstar artist Tomás Giorello have teamed up for this miniseries and deliver a powerful reckoning as the world’s most powerful superhuman forces face off in a no-holds-barred fight for the fate of psiots everywhere!
PopCultHQ has had the privilege of interviewing Matt Kindt before at ECCC 2017 and jumped at the opportunity to discuss the game-changing Valiant event on which he’s currently writing. Kindt is the New York Times Best-Selling writer and artist of the comics and graphic novels Dept. H, Mind MGMT, Revolver, 3 Story, Super Spy, 2 Sisters, and Pistolwhip, as well as Justice League of America (DC), Spider-Man (Marvel), Unity, Ninjak, Rai, X-O Manowar and Divinity (Valiant). He has been nominated for 4 Eisner and 6 Harvey Awards (and won once). His work has been published in French, Spanish, Italian, German and Korean.
Matt’s work across numerous Valiant titles, accompanied with his winning track record in penning comic books, made him an intelligent choice to scribe this latest psiot-filled thrill ride uniting all the major players. With issue one (released 5/30), Kindt has laid the foundation for this major event and has already made an impact with the key players on a collision course that likely won’t bode well for many.
Here’s a quick look at the first issue of the 4-issue miniseries event. Then catch our conversation with Matt Kindt as we discuss Harbinger Wars 2, how the Valiant Universe is more grounded than other superhero universes, how artist Tomás Giorello adds to Kindt’s work, and what the skilled writer thinks is the best part of the Valiant Universe (spoiler alert – it’s the fans!). Oh, and the preview for next week’s (6/27) explosive second issue follows the interview.
HARBINGER WARS 2 #1 (of 4)
Cover A by J.G. Jones
Cover B by Mico Suayan
Interlocking Variant by Juan José Ryp
HW2 Icon Variant by Felipe Massafera
Brushed Metal Variant by Lewis LaRosa
Pre-Order Edition Variant by Tomás Giorello
Blank Cover Also Available
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+
For the rare and immensely powerful subset of humanity known as psiots, their unique abilities have come with an enormous cost. Once, their existence was known only to a select few. Now, the revelation that thousands of these latent telekinetic “harbingers” secretly live among us…with the potential to become active at any moment…has led the American government to a dramatic tipping point…
Armed with new extra-governmental authority, the deep-black military contractor known as Omen has been authorized to identify, evaluate, and, if need be, eliminate all super-normal threats to the homeland. H.A.R.D. Corps units have been deployed into cities and towns across the United States to enforce their orders.
In the East, one of the most powerful minds on Earth, Peter Stanchek, is leading his band of Renegades across the country, activating any potential psiots willing to join them, and building an insurrection force of ultra-powerful and unwieldy new abilities that will soon bring war to Omen’s doorstep…and the unstoppable force known as X-O Manowar raging back to Earth…
In the West, Livewire – the telekinetic technopath with the ability to bend machines and computers to her will – will be forced to choose between her former allies…or her newfound team of Secret Weapons. As the situation escalates beyond human control, the United States will be plunged into darkness from coast to coast, launching Bloodshot and Ninjak into a dangerous mission to neutralize their one-time teammate – and setting the stage for the most shocking, most violent, and most consequential clash of powers ever witnessed in the history of the Valiant Universe!
Writer Matt Kindt of Valiant’s HARBINGER WARS 2
PopCultHQ: HARBINGER WARS 2 is packed with action and excitement throughout the first issue. Peter Stanchek’s activating psiots, the Renegades are on the run, Livewire has shut down power in the U.S., H.A.R.D. Corps and the agents of Omen are on the attack, and X-O Manowar makes his return to Earth. Plus G.A.T.E., Ninjak, and Bloodshot are thrown in the mix as well. With an event as big as HARBINGER WARS 2 and its many layers, do you find it difficult intertwining all the characters, seasoning the narrative with dashes of their backstories, all while trying to deliver a captivating and impactful story that spans the Valiant Universe within a mere four issues?
MATT KINDT: Yeah, for sure. The hardest thing to write is a team book – unless you’re writing a big event book with multiple teams overlapping! [Laughs] It’s definitely a unique challenge because you want to make it something accessible but you don’t want to rehash everything for longtime readers. Those are just the basic challenges, but the fun part is finding these windows where you can show how great the characters are. The plot is kind of a runaway freight train but there are some great windows into Bloodshot and Livewire and the Renegades.
PopCultHQ: Not only was selecting you to write this summer miniseries a smart decision based off your talent and your experience writing, it was an intelligent move due to your tenure with Valiant Entertainment. You’ve worked on numerous titles with the publisher where you wrote for such titular characters as Bloodshot, Ninjak, Unity, Rai, Divinity, and X-O Manowar (plus a slew of others across various titles and one-shots). How has the time you’ve invested into characters throughout the Valiant Universe helped mold their current state and the framework of HARBINGER WARS 2?
MK: It’s a natural fit. The longer you work in a universe and work with characters, the more things just happen unconsciously in a way. The relationships between characters start to develop naturally. I think the way Livewire and Bloodshot interact in this series is something that we definitely haven’t seen before. It’s almost a kind of exploitive working relationship but it wasn’t something I came into the series wanting to do – it’s something that came out of the story and the history of the characters and the nature of their abilities.
As hard as it is to write team books and events that are compelling, the inherent strength of a story like this if you do it right is that the drama and tension come from the disparate personalities grating against each other. That friction is one of the best reasons to jam all these characters together. Whenever you put a bunch of big egos in a tiny room – something fun is going to happen. And by fun, I mean big fights with disastrous consequences.
PopCultHQ: Valiant has called HARBINGER WARS 2, “the biggest, most impactful, most ambitious Valiant event ever attempted.” What is the most challenging part in scripting a linewide mega-event the likes of HARBINGER WARS 2? Despite your years of writing, do you experience any pressure or stress knowing that expectations (especially for the faithful Valiant fans) are high for an event that will have lasting implications to the Valiant Universe by the miniseries’ end?
MK: I don’t really feel any pressure. Is that wrong? I hope not!
The best part of the Valiant Universe is the fans. I started out as a fan back in the ’90s. So I really just have a dream job and anything I’m doing with these characters now comes from a real love of them. I’ve had a few sad phone calls regarding this series where I was debating what happens to some of the major characters after this arc. There is some sad stuff that happens – and things I wasn’t really happy about – not from a creative standpoint but from a story focus. It was the natural progression of the story and the fallout from it. As excited as I was to see Livewire take action and do something drastic at the beginning of HW2…I’m even more sad to see her dealing with the aftermath. And I know as the writer I kind of have control of the direction…but there are some things that characters do and say that you can’t come back from.
I’m also really excited about the secondary characters. Capshaw – who was running G.A.T.E.’s ground (air, really) operation. She is one of those characters that can tend to just end up being an exposition machine – pushing the plot forward. It’s something I hate in comics…the trope of the military person who’s handing out the mission. I really wanted to humanize her, and through the course of this – and especially in the aftermath and the carryover into X-O and the other titles – she’s going to be someone that you really care about as much as Ninjak or Livewire. Well, maybe not as much as Ninjak. But close. [Laughs]
PopCultHQ: Your artist for HARBINGER WARS 2 is Tomás Giorello, who has such powerful imagery with his illustrations and a superb choice as the series artist. Having spent time recently working with Tomás on the early issues X-O Manowar (2017), what do you feel is Giorello’s primary asset that he brings to HARBINGER WARS 2?
MK: Action. He really knows how to take a lot of complicated action set pieces and characters and arrange it in a way that tells the story. There is so much conflict in the next three issues of HW2. So much big stuff…I was really excited to hand it off to him, knowing he can handle it and improve on anything I imagine. He’s one of the greats and you can tell as a writer, when the art comes back – if it looks better than what you were picturing when you wrote it. And his pages always look better.
PopCultHQ: What would you say to someone new to Valiant who is unfamiliar with the Valiant Universe regarding HARBINGER WARS 2 and as to why they should check it out?
MK: It’s a good way to get a taste of what these characters are like and really what the Valiant Universe is. I think readers tend to lump Valiant in with all the other superhero books as a genre but Valiant isn’t really that. It’s a lot more grounded. It’s set in a world you recognize because it’s in our world…just tilted a few degrees sideways.
PopCultHQ: With all the convention appearances you make, I have no doubt you’ve met some die-hard Valiant fans. What would you say to the loyal Valianteers to excite them about the HARBINGER WARS 2 event and/or the ensuing aftermath?
MK: Livewire vs. X-O vs. Bloodshot vs. Ninjak. But not in any of the ways you’d expect. And here’s a few hashtags to go with it: #wings #mech #space #whoops.
A very special thanks to Matt Kindt for taking the time to be interviewed by PopCultHQ. And a shout-out to Valiant’s Director of Marketing Mel Caylo for making this happen!
As promised, here’s your look at the next exciting chapter
in the HARBINGER WARS 2 crossover, on sale Wednesday, June 27th!
HARBINGER WARS 2 #2 (of 4)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale JUNE 27th
And so…the unstoppable X-O Manowar enters the fray!
From East to West, the nation has been cleaved down the middle as Livewire’s defensive attack on the U.S. power grid envelops America in darkness and sets the stage for the biggest clash of powers ever witnessed… On one side, Peter Stanchek’s ragtag team of Renegades – alongside their newly activated army of untrained and wildly unstable psiots – ready themselves for an unsparing firefight with H.A.R.D. Corps and the agents of Omen. On the other, Ninjak and Bloodshot prepare to enter Livewire’s domain inside blacked-out Los Angeles. But as the casualties pile up and the losses mount on both sides, none of them will be ready to confront the full fury of raw power personified as X-O Manowar makes his long-awaited return after a year of self imposed exile among the stars…and delivers a single concussive strike that will send shockwaves across the whole of the Valiant Universe!
The most powerful Valiant event attempted continues in full force with another seismic chapter as New York Times best-selling author Matt Kindt (X-O MANOWAR, Mind MGMT) and superstar artist Tomás Giorello (X-O MANOWAR) unleash X-O Manowar on a world he thought he’d left behind…and fire off the next brutal volley in the coast-to-coast clash of comics icons that will leave no hero unscathed!
Be sure to follow Matt Kindt and Valiant Entertainment online to stay up on the latest with this summer’s mega-event and the ensuing fallout and aftermath, certain to change the landscape of the Valiant Universe as we know it! And for more linewide action from Valiant, be sure to pick up the Harbinger Wars Compendium TPB featuring over 760 pages of the epic first event. On sale now! #StayValiant
Writer – Matt Kindt
Publisher – Valiant Entertainment