Valiant Comics will meld the best of old and new next January, when 'Bloodshot And The H.A.R.D. Corps' authors Christos Gage and Joshua Dysart are joined for a very special two-issue story by one of the artists most identified with Valiant's 1990s heyday, the legendary Bart Sears. We spoke to co-writer Gage about this upcoming storyline, his creative process, working with Sears, and some other related topics... And we've teamed with our friends at Valiant to give MTV Geek readers an exclusive first look at Lewis Larosa's alternate cover to 'Bloodshot And The H.A.R.D. Corps' #18, the complete solicitation info for that same issue, and some previously unseen interior art for next month's #15. (And for the sake of reference and reminiscing, we've also thrown in one of Sears' classic 90s pages from X-O Manowar.)
MTV Geek: You and Joshua Dysart have just taken over as co-writers with the issue that shipped last week… How does that collaborative process work?
Christos Gage: Usually Josh and I will get together and talk about the larger story, giving us an excuse to drink beer in the middle of the day and write off the bar tab. I’ll write the first draft, then he takes a pass. Then we’ll have a conference call with Warren and Alejandro – arranging those is like herding cats – and further drafts we handle as needed, usually with whoever’s got room in their schedule addressing given changes. Josh is a research fiend – the man prepared for UNKNOWN SOLDIER by going to war-torn Africa on his own dime – whereas I’m more of the “It’s Uru metal! It’s magic!” school, combined with judicious use of search engines. So he usually brings the cool real world science in, as well as making sure the underlying workings of psiots and the various Valiant Universe corporate entities all work with what he’s been setting up in Harbinger.
Geek: And are you heading into this book with a long-term plan in place, or are you just unleashing your imaginations and seeing where things lead?
Gage: There is definitely a long-term plan in place. We’re approaching this like a season of a cable TV show, like Breaking Bad or Game Of Thrones. Things are just going to escalate.
Geek: This 'GET SOME' story arc in issues #18 and #19 is set in the Middle East, and has all sorts of potential political undertones – Bloodshot working for an massive oil company will mean he's not acting in the best interests of "the common people", I'll wager?
Gage: Bloodshot is aware that Project Rising Spirit is hardly a humanitarian organization. He has his own reasons for cooperating, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to like it…or stay with the program. But in situations like these, there are often no good guys, and the “common people” you mention are usually the ones who get the short end of the stick.
Geek: How would you describe the tone of this arc?
Gage: Definitely action-packed, but with elements that will freak you out. And paranoia and corruption and chaos. An ‘80’s-‘90’s action movie combined with a ‘70’s paranoid thriller, all infected by John Carpenter’s THE THING.
Geek: And as for the title of the arc: "GET SOME"? Is it just a good catch phrase, or does it actually reflect the content?
Gage: It’s both a term that’s used going into a war zone, referring to confirmed kills, as well as a catch phrase often used by action heroes. We’re being a bit facetious in that, with the premise and setup, it could appear like this is a straightforward action-fest, but with me and Josh at the helm, it’s inevitably going to take some weird and subversive turns.
Geek: As for the suspicious "older, scrappier superhuman soldier" mentioned in the solicitation, will this be a new character, or a re-imagining of someone from Valiant's storied history?
Gage: The latter. Whenever possible we like to use names and characters from the classic days of Valiant – I was reading back then! But they’re always going to have a new spin on them.
Geek: Jumping off of that, there's another link to Valiant's past in this arc: the return of 90s-era superstar Bart Sears! How did he end up working with you for this story?
Gage: You’d have to ask Warren…when he says “Bart Sears” I just say, “Hell, yeah!” And try to think of ways to get cyborg dinosaurs into the story.
Geek: So, how much does knowing who the artist is affect the story you write? Are you shifting things around or telling the story in a different way with Bart's strengths in mind?
Gage: It always helps to know who your artist is going to be, though realistically, that’s not always possible. When it is, it’s great. You want to play to their strengths and give them stuff they’ll enjoy drawing. If the entire issue is the guys sitting around a table talking, I’ve done something wrong. I’ll probably go for fewer panels per page than with Emanuela – although we are really making an effort to give readers a meaty story, and Bart has done plenty of great looking six-panel pages – and look for opportunities to just let him cut loose. And, needless to say, action is the word of the day. But like all great artists, Bart is a master storyteller, and the action has to resonate. Hopefully it will. It’s nice knowing you don’t have to worry about the art…but it puts pressure on you to deliver a good story!
Geek: And without revealing too much, is there anything in particular readers should keep an eye out for over the next few months, in order to prepare ourselves for this storyline?
Gage: After spending a dozen-odd issues fighting to get away from Project Rising Spirit, readers might be surprised to see Bloodshot fighting on their behalf. He’s not one to talk too much about his motives, so see if you can figure out why he’s doing what he’s doing. And, as always with H.A.R.D. Corps, there’s the question of whether there’ll be casualties…
BLOODSHOT AND H.A.R.D. CORPS #18 (NEW ARC)
Written by CHRISTOS GAGE and JOSHUA DYSART
Art by BART SEARS
Cover by CLAYTON CRAIN
Pullbox Exclusive Variant by LEWIS LAROSA
Variant Cover by CULLY HAMNER
MUST READ VALIANT! All-new arc, all-new jumping-on point! "GET SOME!" starts here!
Bloodshot and the expendable commandos of H.A.R.D. Corps face off against a network of terrorist saboteurs in the heart of the Persian Gulf! But as Bloodshot digs into the multinational oil conglomerate that's signing his paychecks, he'll soon find himself confronted by the complex truth behind the terror – and face-to-face with an older, scrappier, more grizzled generation of superhuman soldier from the glory days of proxy wars and state-sponsored assassination.
Start reading here when comics legend Bart Sears comes on board for a two-part action epic pitting Valiant's 21st century shock troops against the first wave of superhuman specialists!