X-O Manowar is the flag ship title of the Valiant Universe and writer Robert Venditti has lead the way for Aric of Dacia’s tale of enslavement, redemption and ultimate power. Venditti’s run on X-O has also made him a rising star in the comic industry. Writing for DC on Green Lantern and announced as a part in the resurrecting of Wally West in the New 52, Venditti paved his way with his exciting and action packed story of the 5th Century Visigoth warrior which still runs strong at issue #22 (read my full review by clicking here). X-O Manowar is consistently a great read and I was fortunate to have Venditti to take the time to discuss Aric and the re-emergence of great comics from Valiant.
UTF: What first appealed to you about Aric and X-O Manowar in the beginning?
ROBERT VENDITTI: There’s such a great core concept driving the character. He’s a 5th Century Visigoth who comes into possession of the most powerful weapon in the universe and is transported into the modern day. There’s so much potential for conflict there, as well as this great blend of historical fiction and science fiction, which are two of my favorite genres.
Now that you are twenty-one issues in do you feel differently about him and his goals?
VENDITTI: Aric is learning, but he’s learning slowly. Which I think is understandable for a guy whose idea of modern technology is the stirrup.
What makes X-O Manowar unique in comics?
VENDITTI: I always wanted the series to explore the concept of heroism and how it changes in relation to time and point of view. If you’re a reader of X-O Manowar, then Aric’s actions seem completely justified and heroic. He’s just a king looking to give his people a homeland, you know? But if you read another title, like Unity, Aric is a villain and a conqueror who must be stopped at all costs. As a writer, there aren’t a lot of established characters that allow for that kind of versatility.
Tell us about your reaction when Unity was first brought up and how it was fundamentality going to change and involve Aric.
VENDITTI: Executive Editor Warren Simons and I were talking, and he told me about the basic concept and cast of the Unity title, and he thought it’d be compelling to have the team form with the initial mission of taking down Aric. I jumped at the chance to build a storyline that would lead to that, and ultimately the “Homecoming” arc came about as a way to reach that goal. Aric claiming Romania as his new homeland and his confrontation with the Eternal Warrior were both designed to establish the stakes and build toward the conflict that we all knew was coming in Unity.
When Aric leaves the Unity storyline, he, his people, and the entire Valiant Universe are going to be in a much different place.
What unique opportunities did you feel this was going to bring to the X-O Manowar title?
VENDITTI: It presented a chance to further cement X-O Manowar as a lynchpin of the Valiant Universe. I didn’t want to pass that up. Plus, I knew it would be a fun to work with Matt Kindt, a creator whose work I’ve admired literally since my first day in comics.
The Valiant Universe is closely interlocking with characters crossing over regularly. Talk about your interaction with other creators when a character crosses over or a team book and event like Unity gets launched.
VENDITTI: Valiant fosters a writer’s room mentality, and they bring us all together regularly for summits. Whether our characters are crossing over or not, we’re always talking story with each other. It’s a great atmosphere, and the stories are better for it.
Now that Aric has been stripped of his armor what can fans expect from him and his goal to free his people the Visigoths?
VENDITTI: As we saw in X-O Manowar #21, Aric isn’t as helpless without the armor as you might think—if he can even be separated from the armor at all. Where that leads, and what it means for the future of his people, is something readers are going to see very soon.
You’ve been given some opportunities with higher profile characters and publishers. What’s the difference and your approach between writing those characters and writing X-O Manowar for Valiant?
VENDITTI: The biggest difference is that with other pre-existing characters, I’m becoming part of a larger continuity, whereas with X-O Manowar, I’m building the continuity as I go. It’s two different types of creativity. My approach to storytelling is the same for both, though. The goal is always to tell genre stories rooted in strong characters.
Can you tease fans with any developments with Aric in the near future?
VENDITTI: Aric has faced a lot of threats in the past two years, but nothing that comes anywhere close to what he’ll face in the Armor Hunters. This is a group of individuals whose sole purpose is to destroy the armor, and they bring with them a secret that will change everyone’s understanding of it. Aric’s most of all.
Critics have given lots of love to Valiant and especially X-O Manowar as a flagship title (myself included) but when you are out at conventions or events what do fans say they like most about and what are their reactions X-O Manowar?
VENDITTI: The Valiant fans have been incredibly supportive. Even in the beginning, when they could’ve been skeptical, they gave the series an honest, unbiased chance. I couldn’t ask for anything more, and I’m always thankful when they stop by at a con and say they like what we’re doing. We’re taking a lot of risks with the character, so that could very easily not be the case.
Sci-fi seems to be the genre you’re most comfortable in but are there any other Valiant characters you might like to put your spin on?
VENDITTI: I had the chance to write a few issues of X-O Manowar that involved him clashing with Ninjak, and it was a blast. I wouldn’t mind revisiting that character again. There’s a lot of backstory I already have laid out in my mind.
Thanks to Robert Venditti for taking the time to talk about X-O and the Valiant Universe. X-O Manowar #22 hits comic shop shelves Feb. 26th and following the Free Comic Book Day Special, Armor Hunters #1 kicks off the four-part mini-series in June 2014. X-O Manowar #23 goes on sale March 19th!