While Civil War II rages and DC plans its Rebirth, Valiant Comics is heading to the far future for its own winter comics event, 4001 A.D. — and with it comes an intriguing new character called the War Mother. We spoke with writer Fred Van Lente to talk about what this new hero will bring to 4001 A.D. and the Valiant Universe at large. Unlike Valiant's other heroes, War Mother's home is in the future of the fifth millennium, where much of Earth is an apocalyptic wasteland under the watchful gaze of New Japan, a highly advanced and powerful civilisation floating around in orbit.
War Mother #1 Cover B, by Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic
But while War Mother protects what's left of the settlers in her home on Earth, bleak events aboard the station of New Japan send her on a new mission, with a wild new ally in the form of a living sniper rifle, to salvage what's crashing down to Earth in the crossfire. Check out our complete interview with Fred Van Lente below, as well as a gallery of variant covers for the one-shot issue, making their debut here.
What can you tell us about War Mother as a character?
Fred Van Lente: Ana is the one-woman Marine Corps for a group of settlers called The Grove, they live in the remnants of a biomaterials facility on what used to be the border between Colombia and Brazil. They're a completely self-contained society, able to grow not just food and building materials, but a lot of their technology as well. What they can't grow, Ana has to go out and get, from the surrounding ruins of the society they call "Back-in-the-Day", from the jungles... and, per the 4001 A.D. event, whole sectors of New Japan that are falling to Earth.
Does Ana have a stake in what's going on there with Rai and the other heroes of 4001 A.D.?
Van Lente: There's a lot of other nasty, brutal competing groups who are after this salvage — the God-Eaters and Foresters, among others — and Ana has to beat them to the fallen sectors, and eliminate them if they get there first. But this particular section that falls down, Chibi Sector is what it's called (so you know, see if you can figure out what that's all about from the name alone!), she finds something that she can't just stick in her haversack and haul back to The Grove. Something precious that she has to protect. And that's really where our story kicks off. She has to get herself and these newcomers from New Japan back to The Grove alive and deal with the fallout from the Grove's leaders once she returns.
War Mother #1 Cover C, by Cary Nord
Will her story intersect with the ongoing plot of the main 4001 A.D. series itself?
Van Lente: War Mother is a way for us to expand the 4001 A.D. landscape, and show you can tell amazing futuristic stories in this shared universe that aren't dependent on Rai and his deal. So while the inciting incident of this story comes directly from going-ons in the main series, this is definitely one of the ripple effects from that event, it's not really about the event itself.
What can you tell us about her sentient sniper rifle pal?
Van Lente: Right! So I've been doing a lot of exciting work with Singularity University over the last few months on what the technology landscape is going to look like in the next few decades, and a lot of the most amazing stuff is being done in South America with biomaterials, new powerful building "blocks" — super-strong fibres and such — literally grown from genetically engineered plant life. So that's where a lot of the inspiration where Ana's world and the Grove come from. The Grove is comprised of the descendants of one of these biomaterials facilities and they grow a lot of their tech. Leap that forward a few millennia and you get the idea that the tech itself is sentient, with only biological, no mechanical parts.
War Mother #1 Character Design Variant Cover by Andres Guinaldo
Ana's sniper rifle is nicknamed Flaco, and he is fully sentient — but he's literally born as her mission starts. She has to guide him a lot of ways even as he's running mission intel for her, and sighting her targets, and all that good stuff. He has the mind of a child, really, at least in the beginning — a really, really lethal child! — and much of the maternal aspect of the War Mother title is her having to "raise" this sentient weapon, even as she's raising her own, human kid. Fittingly, the title of the one-shot is "A Girl and Her Gun".
Will we get an answer to her mysterious appearance in last year's event, Book of Death?
Van Lente: In this one-shot? Unlikely. But in future tales... ?
Can you tease what's in store for War Mother and her place in the Valiant universe?
Van Lente: It's in the fans' hands, like most things. If people dig her introduction here and want us to do more, we will. Ana and I are at their mercy. But I have a good feeling this one's a keeper.
Full War Mother #1, by David Mack
4001 A.D: War Mother #1, written by Fred Van Lente with art from Tomás Giorello, hits shelves in August.
Top: War Mother #1 cover A, by David Mack