Valiant Entertainment is gearing up for an event the publisher aims to be it’s biggest yet — and Harbinger Wars 2 has shifted a bit in format a couple of months before release from what was revealed when the series was announced last fall at New York Comic Con.
Originally announced as a four-issue series with 48-page issues from the X-O Manowar creative team of Matt Kindt and Tomás Giorello and the Secret Weapons creative team of Eric Heisserer, Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín, Harbinger Wars 2 will now span six issues. The story starts with the 32-page Harbinger Wars 2: Prelude, scheduled for release on May 2, from Heisserer, Allén and Martín. The 32-page Harbinger Wars 2 #1 sees release later that month on May 30, with the four-issue monthly main series helmed by Kindt and Giorello. A Harbinger Wars 2: Aftermath one-shot follows in September.
The Harbinger Wars 2: Prelude is billed as a “standalone introduction to the entire Valiant Universe,” and stems from plotlines started in Secret Weapons, with Livewire looking to stop the government’s effort to cack down on psiots. The main series will see a story told between two coasts, with Livewire vs. Ninjak and Bloodshot on the west, and Peter Stanchek and the Renegades vs. X-O Manowar on the east.
CBR spoke to both Kindt and Heisserer plus Valiant Entertainment Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons about Harbinger Wars 2, the first event published since the company’s acquisition by DMG Entertainment (though conceived before that deal was announced). Kindt and Heisserer shared their perspective on collaboration and what made Harbinger Wars 2 a unique creative opportunity for them, and Simons gave his insight on how Valiant approaches event stories differently and why this story is being positioned as such an important one for the Valiant Universe.
CBR: It’s fair to say that comics, as a whole, have a complicated relationship with event stories. Anyone who loves superhero stories has affection for them, but we all know what it looks like when they’re not done right. Valiant is in a unique position with event stories, and is seemingly positioned to be able to do something different with the format than other superhero publishers — how does Valiant as a whole, and this story in particular, aim to approach the event series differently, and maybe learn some lessons from elsewhere in the comics industry?
Warren Simons: When I look back at the events that Valiant’s done over the past five years, starting with the original Harbinger Wars, or 4001 A.D., or Armor Hunters, I think what we’ve always tried to do is not pad the thing. We’re a very lean company. We don’t try to push 20 or 30 books out to the marketplace well beyond our capacity. We don’t need to publish a hundred books a month. The main thing that we’ve always focused on, above everything else, is story, story, story.
We didn’t approach this from the standpoint of, “How do we move 200,000 units through this thing?” Or, “How can we tie this book into 50 different titles?” The only thing we talked about, really, was, “What’s the story?” and “How do we tell the best story possible?” I think that’s been one of the hallmarks and principles of the company since day one. We’re going to continue to do that here.
The thing that’s so exciting to me about this particular event is you get to sit back and watch the universe unfold, and it takes on an organic life on its own. You’ll get to see what Eric does in Secret Weapons with Livewire, and create this all-new pocket universe; you’ll get to see what Rafer [Roberts] did with Harbinger; you’ll get to see what Jeff [Lemire] is doing over in Bloodshot, and how we ended Project Rising Spirit introduced a much more militaristic group in Omen; and what Matt’s done in Ninjak and X-O, and how all these threads come together and lead into this story. It all feels very organic.
Eric Heisserer: Warren’s dancing around what I thought was a really good progression into this, and that came out of a big publication plan that occurred last year, when some lead writers and Warren and [former Valiant Entertainment] Dinesh [Shamdasani] sat down together, and talked about, “What does the next 18 months look like?” “Where are the stories going, and what kind of stories do we want to tell to make sure it’s a natural progression from the events that are currently ongoing?” In particular, Matt and I were like, “Well, is this going to get worse?” It’s going to get a lot worse, because look at what’s happening now, and I don’t think there’s going to be a way to pull out of this interesting escalation.
By the time we started talking about what each of us wanted to do with some key characters, Warren was like, “That sounds more like an event.” We backed into it a little bit more.
Matt Kindt: What I love about these events with Valiant is they grow organically. We all grew up reading comics, and how many events have we read? But as grown-ups, I don’t want to be writing some, big sprawling story with no real heart to it, and it’s just about connecting different books and characters. I think the thing that attracted us all to this idea was the heart of the story and the characters driving it, and telling a good story with heart. Eric had a great idea with Livewire, and really makes it about these character moments. The big event just happens around it.
That’s the fun of this, and I think if there’s a lesson to ever be learned from event books through the history of comics, it’s that. It’s not as much about the event as it is about spotlighting these amazing characters, and pulling back a bit and showing how the universe is shared, and the friction that comes from the sharing of it.
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