The Valiant universe has found its unifying force: A hero gone rogue whose misguided intent to rebuild his long-lost home has made him global enemy No. 1.
That's the thrust of Valiant's first super team book "Unity," which melds Valiant's roster of edgy and decidedly solo heroes as a force of one to not just thwart the powerful X-O Manowar, but to break him and, maybe, free a country, too.
And that's only if the team's members — Toyo Harada, Livewire, Ninjak and the Eternal Warrior — can stick around long enough without hurting each other.
"There's a reason Valiant never had a team like this throughout its history — these characters aren't friends," said Warren Simons, Valiant Entertainment's executive editor. "They don't hang out in the penthouse of a high-rise waiting for the Valiant-phone to alert them to trouble. These are hard men and women. They're dangerous and a lot of them are killers, and putting them in a room together is a violent proposition."
But when X-O Manowar, a Visigoth from 400 AD who now wears the ultimate weapon in the universe, returns to earth trying to carve out a place for the last of his people it leads to a showdown.
"He's desperately trying to save what's left of his people, and he'll use force to achieve his goals. Toyo Harada — a child of the bomb — has dedicated his life to achieving peace by any means necessary," said Simons. "He will not view X-O Manowar trying to conquer Romania — which is an event at the heart of Unity— as a good thing. And neither will the Russians."
The monthly series debuts in November with art by Doug Braithwaite and colors by Brian Reber, both of whom signed Valiant-exclusive contracts to launch "Unity."
Writer Matt Kindt, who read Valiant comics in the 1990s, called it a chance of a lifetime, likening it to the dawn of "DC Comics and having an editor ask if you want write a new book with Batman and Superman and Wonder Woman" in it.
"That's the attractive thing about Valiant . (it) is that all of these characters now have a history but they're also still fresh. The potential for these characters is just starting to be realized," said Kindt, whose previous stories include "Super Spy" from Top Shelf, "Revolver" from Vertigo and "MIND MGMT" from Dark Horse. "So for me, I get to play with characters I have a sort of nostalgia for, but I'm starting on the ground floor with them in a team book."
For Valiant Entertainment, "Unity" is the next step in expanding the universe that found life and sales in the 1990s, faded out and was reborn anew in 2011 to acclaim.
Dinseh Shamdasani, Valiant's CEO, calls the book a logical process of the all the stories that have come since the relaunch.
He said the publisher is "doubling down on our commitment" to tell superhero stories and character drama.
"UNITY is a super team that has no time for nobility and is held together by deception and necessity and, even then, only barely," said Shamdasani. "This is a team that isn't happy to be together. They don't trust each other, they have their own agendas and some outright hate the others. There's a lot of story to mine in those relationships, especially as the one commonality is that they're all experienced killers."
Moore reported from Philadelphia. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/mattmooreap