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SENYC 2015: Valiant 25th Anniversary Panel Recap

Valiant Entertainment is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary with a convention tour that will take the publisher across North America.  This past weekend it rolled into New York for the second annual Special Edition NYC and held a panel to provide some sneak peeks at upcoming titles including the summer event Book of Death.  On hand were Director of Marketing Hunter Gorinson, Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons, CEO and Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani, Ivar, Timewalker writer Fred Van Lente, and artist Amy Chu, who will be writing a segment in the upcoming X-O Manowar #38.

We immediately jumped to Book of Death, which the panelists described as taking the Valiant Universe into the next 25 years and the next century.  The comic gets right into the action with the heroes hunting the Geomancer and the Eternal Warrior, Gallad, who has a book that essentially illustrates the future of this universe.  The story is split into two time periods, each handled by a different artist.  The present deals with the hunt while the back-up story shows a future timeline.  The panelists promised that each issue has one big event with the third issue including a surprise as to who is behind everything.  


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You can get the basic story with the main four-issue Book of Death mini-series.  The publisher will also be releasing four one-shots that serve as “flash forwards.” Fans can read these to get a little more information as to the story, but it's not required if you don't want them (you're going to want them).  An additional series entitled Book of Death: Legends of the Geomancer will only be available as a retail incentive from local comic shops.  This is written by Fred Van Lente and illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp.  If you want the book, be sure to pre-order Book of Death.  Your retailer needs to get enough sales in order to receive this extra book that follows the story of the very first Geomancer named Anni and her friend Pada.  Long time Valiant fans will find a nice nod with those names.  Finally, this series is not directly tied to Book of Death, despite the title, but they complement each other.  

Big news for X-O Manowar: he's getting married in issue #38.  Immediately after that event, a new storyline entitled “Exodus” begins, which doesn't sound like much of a honeymoon at all.  Preview pages from Amy Chu's story with art by Clayton Henry were shown, which gave us a look at the bride's perspective for the first time.  This marks the first time Chu will be working for Valiant.  


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Ivar, Timewalker was up next, which has quickly become one of my favorite Valiant comics, as it follows an asshole time traveler.  Writer Fred Van Lente described the title character as a “bastard person.”  The upcoming arc has Ivar picking up his immortal brothers, Armstrong and the Eternal Warrior, from different parts of the timestream to save Neela, the scientist destined to discover time travel.  When asked how he keeps these various timelines straight, Van Lente said, “It's really meth.”

Van Lente also introduced characters called Lurkers, which come from a version of the future in which human beings have uploaded themselves into Twitter.  These creatures go back in time and people live vicariously through them, but they're kind of douchebags, “…basically if 4Chan got up and started walking around.”  The one seen in the book goes back in time, not to kill Hitler but to draw a dick on his forehead.  

Imperium was next on the agenda, having continued the story of Toyo Harada now that he's been outed as a villain.  He's not forced to keep up public appearances, so he's been building a team of bad guys.  One such character is Broken Angel, who came to our dimension and now other worldly beings live in her body like a space suit.  She has no eyes.  All of this makes her very interesting to Harada and very creepy to us.  Divinity, a Russian cosmonaut that just returned to Earth with miraculous powers after a trip through the cosmos that lasted decades, will be appearing in the second story arc as well as a sequel to his recently wrapped mini-series, not to mention Book of Death.  


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The panel discussed Ninjak briefly, who now has his own ongoing series.  The character was described as Batman, if he were a ninja (which is weird because I thought Batman was also sort of a ninja?), but he's kind of a dick.  Issue #4 gets into Roku, one of the other super assassins in the book.  There are backup stories included in each issue that serve as prequels.  These will lead up to the beginning of the first issue by issue #12 or #13, so you can go back and see a linear storyline.

Rounding out the preview portion was the recently launched Bloodshot Reborn.  The current arc has the character tracking down terrorists that are posing as him and appear to have his powers.  We will be seeing more of Bloodsquirt, the cartoonish imp-like character that Bloodshot's mind has developed as a manifestation of the deep psychological trauma he's suffered over the years.  What's impressive about this comic is that writer Jeff Lemire has plotted out the first 25 issues and they're all in some form of production, which is unheard of in the comic industry today.  


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The panel was opened up for Q&A.  After a fan asked for the third time about an ongoing series featuring the Goat, the question of the number of titles came up.  Valiant tends to have about 10 different books a month.  Shamdasani explained that it's not a limit and that number fluctuates month to month.  They look at quality and adjust based on demand.  

There was an interesting exchange when a fan asked about titles featuring a female lead, as Marvel and DC have jumped on this bandwagon to tout books with women.  Shamdasani was quick to respond, pointing out that Valiant has perhaps the most diverse line in comics today and that they would not be pushing out a book just to have a woman on the cover.  They recently had a Faith one-shot and there are other comics in the works.



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Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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