With the relaunched Valiant Universe now in full swing, it’s time for the publisher to start growing it out even bigger. The first step comes in X-O Manowar #5, which will introduce the fan-favorite assassin Ninjak, who is on the hunt for Aric and, more importantly, the Manowar armor he sports.
We caught up with writer Robert Venditti to talk about Ninjak’s big debut and what the future holds for the Valiant Universe.
Robert Venditti: I’ve only been at this for a little over year, and only five issues have made it to the stands, but from my perspective, the only routine thing about writing a monthly book is that a new one comes out every month. Everything is so fluid, so you have to be nimble and adapt. But that’s the challenge and the fun of it.
IGN: With Aric moving into the modern era, how does his role within the story change if at all? How does he approach these new threats as opposed to how he approached the Romans of his time?
Venditti: That’s all part of his learning curve. In a way, though, the modern world is as unprepared for Aric as he is for it. He’s a Visigoth with a fighting style that has long been extinct, and he commands a sentient suit of armor that far surpasses the destructive potential of anything the world has ever seen. I find that flip side of the book’s core concept to be very compelling.
IGN: How does Ninjak tie into Aric’s story? Is this a one-off battle or will their lives be more intertwined?
Venditti: It seems to me that in a storytelling landscape where you have Aric of Dacia in possession of the X-O Manowar armor—the universe’s most powerful weapon—and you also have Ninjak—the world’s foremost weapons specialist—the two characters’ stories would have to be intertwined. As for the nature of their confrontation, it’s so much more than a one-off battle. By the end of the four-issue arc, Ninjak will have cemented his place in the new Valiant Universe.
Venditti: Without a doubt. Aside from the fact there’s a huge cache of storytelling potential with the character, there’s also a large and extremely passionate fanbase for him. He doesn’t just have the potential for his own series. He deserves one.
IGN: It sounds like Aric’s going to be keeping pretty busy, but will you be exploring any of the more personal dramatic potential of Aric realizing that he’s in a time long past his own?
Venditti: As a writer, those personal character moments are my favorite parts of a story. Aric of Dacia is a hero, but he’s also a great tragic figure. He’s sixteen centuries removed from his own time, and there’s a tremendous amount of loneliness and alienation that comes with that. We tap into that a lot in the opening of the fifth issue, and it’s certainly something we’ll be coming back to throughout the series.
IGN: X-O seems to be acting somewhat as the hub for the Valiant Universe. Are there any other characters on the horizon that you’ll be introducing?
Venditti: A large part of my original pitch was dedicated to how other characters from the Valiant Universe could cross over with X-O Manowar and vice versa, so that’s definitely part of the grand plan. It won’t ever be something we do for the sake of a crossover itself, though. Whenever X-O Manowar meets another Valiant hero or villain, there will be a definite purpose behind it. That’s certainly our intention with the introduction of Ninjak in the second story arc.
IGN: How far ahead are you working on the book?
Venditti: I’m scripting issue #9 right now, with the story plotted out through issue #14. After that, the series can go in a number of different directions, and we haven’t decided which one we want to do yet.
Venditti: I’d never been a part of something like that, and it was a great experience. For me, one of the most attractive aspects of joining Valiant has always been the idea that there would be these summits where creators and editors could be in a room together and bounce ideas off each other. I’ve been looking forward to it, and it was everything I hoped it would be.
Writing can be such an insular experience, and I learned so much listening to how others do things, what their processes are like, and so on. As far as the specifics of what we discussed regarding the future of the Valiant Universe, if I divulged any of that, I think it’d move me to the top of more than a few people’s hit lists.
X-O Manowar #5 goes on sale tomorrow.
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