Written by Nick Kazden
When Valiant rebranded themselves as Valiant Entertainment and rebooted their entire comic line, 2012’s X-O Manowar series was the first book for the new comic universe.
Well, it’s 2017, the character’s 25th anniversary, and X-O is back in the forefront of things. Last month a new X-O Manowar book debuted that serves as a great jumping on point for people unfamiliar with the character and his world.
Hunter Gorinson, VP of Marketing and Communications for Valiant, sat down with Warren Simmons, the company’s editor in chief to give the audience a crash course on all things X-O. Simmons, who used to work as an editor for Marvel from 2002 through 2009, joined Valiant in 2011 to help rebuild their line.
“He has no idea what a germ is, but now he has the most dangerous weapon in the universe,” joked Simmons. “It’s like putting a monkey in a Ferrari, it’s not gonna know what to do.”
X-O fans old and new showed up to learn more about the character’s future. One audience member even said last month’s debut issue was his first introduction to X-O.
Matt Kindt, who has already written books like Ninjak, Unity and Divinity for Valiant, is guiding Aric into unknown territory. The book features a rotating team of artists on every arc “to show Aric’s progression from soldier to general to emperor,” (the names of the first three arcs) according to Gorinson.
Tomas Riogello delivered some amazing work in the first issue and will be on the book until the end of the “Soldier” arc in issue three. Doug Braithwaite starts in June and Clayton Crain, who Simmons called “one of the best digital painters out there” takes the reins in September with issue number seven.
Valiant is trying something new with X-O. Comic arcs are typically four to five issues long, but each arc throughout the book’s first year will only be three issues. Simmons, comparing normal comic arcs to the average two-hour movie in terms of script length, said these stories feel more like 66 minute long movies.
“It’s a compressed, relentless story that feels like a freight train that won’t stop,” said Gorinson.
Gorinson and Simmons had nothing but praise for Kindt. “Big brain on Matt,” said Simmons as he talked about how much work Kindt has done to develop a new world for the book. Aric’s new home planet has three different races, a civil war and a political structure. Kindt, who is also an artist, has even helped with some of the character and environment designs for the series.
“The thing about Matt is he’s a great collaborator with the artists,” said Simmons. “He never demands that ‘this is what we’re gonna do,’ he helps people do what they think is best for the book.”
At least for now, Kindt is showing us a less bombastic character. Now Aric, living off-planet as a farmer, is a bit more somber. His sadness comes through during the action sequences, beautifully illustrated by Tomas Riogello in the first issue where a sense of excitement used to be seen on the warrior’s face.
Gorinson said they’re going out of their way to emphasize X-O as the series at the heart of their line-up. Valiant has developed something called “X-O Manowar Wednesday” that guarantees a new issue of X-O will ship each fourth Wednesday of the month. In addition to that, that there will be another major Valiant release each time X-O comes out, making it an even bigger day for the publisher.
“We’re not just trying to pump out number ones into the marketplace every six months. We’re trying to build stories that last a long time.”
X-O Manowar has been such a hit for Valiant they had to empty out a month’s worth of supply (including the copies they had for summer conventions) in two days. A second printing has already been announced and will hit shelves on April 26th, the same day issue number two is released.
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