PHILADELPHIA — Valiant Comics is bringing its premiere hero back to the pages of comics after a nearly decade-long absence, debuting X-O Manowar in May and promising a hero that longtime fans will know but with new adventures that will carry him to new heights.
"Plenty of foundation was laid in the original X-O Manowar run, and when I went back and read those stories, the possibilities leapt out at me," writer Robert Venditti told The Associated Press on Tuesday. He said his goal is to "build upon the foundation that has already been laid. Of course, new characters and story elements will be introduced, but it will always be done with the aim of staying true to what has made X-O such a beloved character."
An X-O Manowar book was last on store shelves in 2002, which capped a decade-long run for the fifth century Visigoth who was ultimately kidnapped by aliens and taken into space. After donning a suit of sentient armor, he returned to 20th century earth where he became a hero.
Created by Jim Shooter, Bob Layton and Jon Hartz, X-O Manowar debuted in 1992. The character was paired with Marvel Comics' Iron Man for a video game in 1996.
Valiant Executive Editor Warren Simons said the launch of the new title, illustrated by Cary Nord, will spearhead more books and characters — including Harbinger, Bloodshot, Ninjak, Archer & Armstrong and Shadowman — later this year as the publisher brings them back to a new audience, with nods, but not direct ties, to the original Valiant continuity.
"By modernizing the characters while also being faithful to the core concepts that drive them," Simons said. "Valiant fans have been waiting for a new take on these characters for years."
Valiant Entertainment planted the seeds for the comic imprint's return last year, putting together a new management team and lining up writers and artists after it got financial backing from Cuneo & Co. LLC, a private investment firm focused on consumer products, media and entertainment.
During its heyday, Valiant, founded in 1989, sold 80 million comics with characters such as Shadowman, Armorines and Ninjak. It was later acquired by videogame maker Acclaim Entertainment, which used the characters for its games before it went out of business in 2005.
Dinesh Shamdasani, the company's chief creative officer, said Valiant aims to recapture the appeal of the previous incarnation for existing and new audiences.
"What the original Valiant did so well and we're working hard to do again is embrace the super-hero aspects of our universe, but we also push our characters to be more than just men and women in capes and tights," Dinesh said. "We aim to give the reader an adrenaline-fueled super-hero comic book the likes of which they can't get anywhere else."
As for keeping X-O Manowar fresh, but rooted, Shamdasani said the idea is to balance those attributes and pursuits.
"We've looked at many examples of characters being successful modernized from Marvel's Ultimate line and DC's New 52 to 'Casino Royale' and 'Batman Begins' and found that in almost every case what worked was to stay true to the core conventions and iconography of the concept and put everything else up for examination," he said.
Venditti said it would come down to creating a vibrant, eye-catching story, too.
"The audience will always respond positively to good stories about compelling characters facing intense situations," he said. "This is what the original incarnation of Valiant is known for, and it's certainly what Cary and I are striving for with the new X-O Manowar."
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