Insight Into A Valiant Incursion

by Vince Brusio

A mission to destroy worlds is not something done casually on the weekend. Planning is needed. Precision. Writer Alex Paknadel who gives us Incursion #1 for Valiant Entertainment explains a book with such magnitude is not lost on him. He knows the stakes. He understands the size of the playing field. Incursion #1 (DEC182121), he insists, still hinges on one of the most fundamental things that keeps us all human: love.

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Vince Brusio: Interesting amalgam! Imperatrix Virago seems to be the old hag kept young by Rapunzel’s hair, yet she is also afflicted with the insatiable appetite of Galactus! So she needs more, more, more! Does that scenario sort of paint by the numbers in describing how things play out for Virago and Syntilla in Incursion #1?

Alex Paknadel: I wouldn’t say so, no. Actually, we see relatively little of Virago and Syntilla in Incursion #1 because we’re holding the really crunchy stuff in reserve. Issue #1 is the throwdown slugfest before the storm, so we catch up with Tama, Earth’s current Geomancer, and Gilad, the Eternal Warrior, who is her protector, and throw a whole mess of nasty at them. We certainly meet Virago and Syntilla, but we get a more detailed idea about what really makes them tick as the mini-series progresses. I’m having tons of fun writing these characters, I must say.

Vince Brusio: So is this a tip of the hat to Lee and Kirby on how Syntilla has to prepare a world for Virago’s consumption? How else have classic comics from those two masters had an impact on Incursion?

Alex Paknadel: Not a conscious tip of the hat, but I can absolutely see it now that you mention it. You could also make comparisons to Thanos’ Black Order or Darkseid’s Elite. I suppose if you’re on a mission to annex or destroy entire worlds then it makes sense to have an advance guard lay the groundwork for your arrival no matter which fictional universe you happen to inhabit.

In terms of Lee and Kirby’s impact on Incursion, I promise I’m not being facetious when I say that this story simply wouldn’t exist. We’re all still trafficking in tropes those two blue-collar Jewish kids from Manhattan invented a lifetime ago, and I’m fine with that.    

Vince Brusio: We’re told that Virago and Syntilla travel from world to world via the Deadside, which is the source of all necromantic energy. Can you tell us more about the synergy between “Deadside” and necromantic energy? How is this plot device a vehicle for drama in Incursion?

Alex Paknadel: The Deadside depends on necromantic energy, but it’s not necessarily the source and font. Necromantic energy is found wherever life is in the universe, otherwise creatures like [Shadowman’s] Master Darque and Virago wouldn’t make a beeline for living things. However, it’s rarely found in its raw state.

In Incursion, Virago uses the Deadside as a transport medium to take her from one living world to another extremely quickly. It’s also where she keeps her army of undead warriors, aka “xenoghasts.” Now, because she’s not an innately necromantic entity like Master Darque, Virago can’t simply convert bio-energy into necromantic energy. Instead, she has to have worlds “prepared” for her arrival, and that’s where Syntilla comes in. Syntilla’s the power behind the throne inasmuch as her natural ability to liberate necromantic energy from living things is used as a planet-killing WMD by Virago. In short, Syntilla poisons entire planets for Virago, thereby liberating the necromantic energy Virago needs to survive.

Vince Brusio: How does this title fit into the rest of the Valiant Universe? Will there be any “crossover” moments in continuity?

Alex Paknadel: The beauty of Incursion is that although it plays out against this huge canvas, at core it’s a story about what a good parent will do to protect their child. The relationship Gilad has with Tama is much more complicated than the relationships he usually has with Geomancers. He’s honor- and duty-bound to protect each and every one of them of course, but with Tama he feels like a father again after centuries of just being, you know, a brooding badass. Accordingly, Incursion is actually a very tightly focused, intimate story that just happens to feature an immortal Sumerian who likes to kill monsters in the face. However, because Deadside portals and necromancy aren’t really in Gilad’s wheelhouse, it really would make sense for us to have Doctor Mirage along for the ride, right?

Yeah. I think we’ll do that.

Vince Brusio: What challenged you the most in working on this project? How did you overcome that challenge?

Alex Paknadel: This might come across as horribly sycophantic, but the biggest challenge was getting over my fanboy crush on Doug Braithwaite quickly enough to actually knuckle down and work with the guy! I’ve been a huge fan of Doug’s for years, so when we finally met a month or so ago and I must admit I gushed in a very unbecoming fashion – which was pretty embarrassing for all concerned. However, Doug’s a real pro, so he let me get it out of my system and then sat me down to talk practical logistics.

When you’re dealing with someone as professional as Doug, then your confidence level increases exponentially. You know you can throw the wackiest stuff imaginable at him and he’ll handle it without breaking a sweat. Honestly, having that trust in place frees you to really push yourself, and that’s exactly what happened in this case. Incursion is some of the best work I’ve ever produced, and for the most part that’s down to Doug.

 
 
 
 

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Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.

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