In December, “The Valiant” is set to debut as a part of the Valiant Next initiative, ushering a new era for Valiant Entertainment. Written by Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt, “The Valiant” brings together the Eternal Warrior, Bloodshot and the new Geomancer to combat one of the Valiant U’s biggest and most evil foes: The Immortal Enemy. Bringing the series to life is none other than award-winning “Daredevil” artist Paolo Rivera. “The Valiant” is Rivera’s first monthly comics work since 2012, and he’s got a lot of ground to cover with the four-issue miniseries — like science fiction, fantasy, horror, historical fiction and much more.
CBR News spoke with Rivera about his work on “The Valiant,” including getting a chance to redesign The Immortal Enemy, working across a diverse amount of genres in a single series, becoming a fan of the Eternal Warrior and more. Plus, check out an exclusive early preview for “The Valiant” #2!
CBR News: Paolo, tell us a bit about your work on “The Valiant.” How was this a new challenge for you compared to some of your past work?
Paolo Rivera: I don’t know, that’s a big question! [Laughs] I think my favorite part about it is how — I was discussing this with my wife the other day — it’s kind of almost every genre. If you just look at the pages, we hit everything from superheroes, sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, horror — I get to draw a whole lot of different things, and I’m a big fan of variety, so it’s really nice to have something new on every page.
From a design perspective, how did you approach some of the newer aspects of “The Valiant,” like The Immortal Enemy?
I read the script and they wanted something plant-like. I wasn’t familiar with the character at all, so I didn’t have any preconceived notions about what he should look like. I went by what they described and I drew a few different faces and one body. Everyone seemed to like it, so we just went with the first take. [Laughs] I just made him look really evil. Matt and Jeff — I’m not sure how they divide up writing duties — but in the script it’s described has having a plant-like face that opens up. I drew that once and then I got this idea to turn what is essentially a giant flower petal into the horn/jaw and that’s what gave it the distinctive look. After that, it’s pretty much making him look like Swamp Thing. [Laughs]
This is the first time you’ve worked outside the Marvel Universe in a while when it comes to interiors. Did drawing a new universe in force you out of your comfort zone?
It was pretty refreshing! For one thing, not drawing New York in every panel. While I love New York and I used to live there, it is nice to have a wider setting. Like I said, we jump around a lot, so I get to draw a lot of different places and times. I wasn’t totally familiar with the characters — I knew Ninjak, I knew X-O, I knew Bloodshot, but I hadn’t really read any of their adventures. I’m discovering them as I go along. Even though I didn’t know Eternal Warrior at all when I started, I became a fan of him as I got through the first issue, which is really dedicated — I think half the book — to his history, which is really tied up with world history.
What were some of the challenges you had when approaching the script? When looking at Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt’s script, what struck you about the artistic opportunities for you over the course of the series?
I’m right in the thick of the second issue at the moment. It was all pretty clear from the script what needed to be done and what they wanted me to draw. The most fun for me was the Immortal Enemy and how he changes forms according on the era. We had this evil force that gets to be represented in a lot of ways. The first half of the book to me feels kind of like a “Prince Valiant” story with a little more horror. I really enjoyed that aspect of it. The guys did a really great job of turning a 10,000-year story into ten pages, and I’m really happy with the way they were able to present that much history in that small of a space.
Which era has been most enjoyable for you so far? What’s been enjoyable about getting to delve into the history of this brand new universe?
The most fun to draw was either the double page spread where he’s a 14th Century knight, or maybe the Greek Minoan warrior on the Isle of Knossos, but borderline my favorite was the viking era where he talks to a young viking boy that’s the Geomancer of that era. The sequence is just the most heartbreaking.
You’ve done a lot of superhero work during your career. How does your approach to these characters differ from some of the work you’ve done for superheroes in the past?
Well, these guys are a lot more violent. [Laughs] The page I’m drawing right now is Eternal Warrior basically mashing his axe into someone’s face. That’s typically not something I’d draw in the Marvel Universe. While I certainly don’t condone violence, it’s often very fun to draw. [Laughs] I suppose it’s good that I get that out of my system in a non-violent way.
That for me has been one of the main differences for me between the two universes: a lot less tights, but actually more capes. Not a whole lot of capes in the Marvel Universe, but I did draw some here or there. The nice thing about the Eternal Warrior is that even though he’s one guy, you get to draw a lot of different versions of him. I actually — for the modern era where he first shows up in the second issue — I redesigned his current costume a little bit. He shows up in Siberia, and although he’s got some nice guns, I wanted to cover those up for a little while.
It seems like you’re able to let loose a little more with “The Valiant” than you have in some of your other work. Do you think fans are going to see a different side of you artistically than they’ve seen in the past?
Yeah, a little bit. I approach each page like a blank slate, and so when the settings are changing this much, I think I change my style accordingly — not necessarily consciously, just as a matter of course. The first page of issue #2 is Ninjak in the snow. I had a lot of fun with it. Matt and Jeff have a great sequence and they complimented me on this one panel of Ninjak where basically all I did was draw what they told me to. I was very happy with the way it came out — very minimalist, but it gets the point across, whereas nine pages later, we’re in a fork in Colorado and we go nuts on the trees. It looks less like a spy Ninja thriller and more like straight-up horror. I just change the amount of black that I use or as it calls for.
As you’ve worked on “The Valiant,” what’s been the most enjoyable aspect of putting this story together?
It’s just nice to get back to doing comics again. Same for my dad [Joe Rivera] — he’s inking two-thirds of the book. The first issue I did mostly digitally just because I had some scheduling issues and I had to find a way to get it done as quickly as possible. Now, I’m doing two or three pages a week, and it’s just nice to get back into the swing of things. It’s been a while for me — I haven’t done monthly comics since about 2012. I was talking to my dad the other week and he said, “It’s just nice to be on a schedule again.” He’s inking about two pages a week — it’s nice to be producing work on a regular basis.
“The Valiant” hits stores in December
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