Jim Valentino talks about EMISSARY

jim-valentinoImage Comics and Shadowline announced the Emissary last week, to explain who Emissary is and what the series is about, Jim Valentino stopped by First Comics News.

First Comics News: After hearing the concept for the Emissary, how does that differ from what Image Comics did in Rising Stars with Mathew Bright?

Jim Valentino: I’m not certain what role Matthew Bright ultimately played in Rising Stars but I do know that the series itself was based on the premise that a meteor came to Earth and empowered a bunch of children in uteri. This is nothing even remotely like that.  Emissary and Rising Stars are not even close conceptually.

1st: Is this an ongoing series or a mini-series?

Jim: It’s twelve issues divided into three acts of four issues each. This story does have a beginning, middle and an end.

1st: You examine a lot of political and sociological issues, would you consider this a super hero comic, or does it just look like one?

Jim: It’s a comic about a super-being. Whether he’s a hero or not is still in question and could probably be argued either way depending on the observer.

1st: How does he get his powers?

Jim: Yeah, you’re going to have to read it to find out. To tell how Emissary came into his powers, and what his purpose is would be divulging a major mystery of the series.

1st: Part of the Tag line is “And what if he were black?” How does this affect his world view?

Jim: Actually, the question should be reversed—how does the world view him? Ask yourself if the world would have so readily accepted an nearly omnipotent being like Superman if he were a man of color, black, Asian, Middle Eastern? My guess is, probably not.

1st: What I am getting at is his world view similar to Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell or is he more like Suge Knight?

Jim: Well, here again, you’re making the assumption that he’s a human and from Earth. He may or may not be. He could be a robot, an alien, he could be sent from Heaven, the point is that we don’t know who he is or where he comes from. We don’t know what his mission is or who sent him. For all we know this could all be one massive hoax, and there are plenty who will no doubt believe that.

1st: Does his appearance cause others to question their own religious beliefs?

Jim: Absolutely. Inversely, it would cause others to renew or strengthen their faith.

Our conceit is that there would be millions of people who would assume that a man who can walk on water, or air, you’ll note in the sample pages he isn’t flying, he’s walking on air, would have to be the Second Coming. There would be millions more who would assume that he’s the anti-Christ and others who would place no religious connotation on his existence, but assume that he’s an advance scout for a hostile alien fleet or something equally horrific and terrifying.

A basic tenant of human nature is to mistrust the different or the unknown and a guy who floats about Times Square and stops an airplane with a wave of his hand definitely qualifies as “the unknown.”

1st: What happens in the US and Russia when they don’t control the largest quantity of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the world?

Jim: Oh, I think we’ll be finding that out before this particular century is over but that has little to do with the story at hand. There is, however, the question of how they and other countries will react when and if they discover that even with all of their weapons of mass destruction they’re essentially impotent in the face of a power far greater than their own.

We can only hope they’ll gain a little humility.

1st: After the Emissary changes his world, is it still “the real world we live in”?

Jim: Once he appears it is no longer “the real world we live in” since the real world has no super-beings. That’s merely shorthand for “like our world, there are no super-beings, no aliens, none of that here.

There’s also the question of whether or not he will succeed in whatever his mission is. The question may be raised how do you enlighten those who refuse to see? I believe that’s a question Holy men have grappled with for millennia.

1st: Are there any plans to cross over ShadowHawk and the Emissary in World’s Finest fashion?

Jim: Not a chance, no. To do that would totally undermine the entire concept. In order for this to play out the way I envisioned it and according to the discussions writer Jason Rand, editor Kristen Simon and I have had about it, in order for this to work the only thing that can be out of the ordinary has to be Emissary.

I believe that the fantastic always plays better when it’s firmly grounded in reality. Part of the conceit here is that this starts out as a world just like our own. A world in which no one is running around in panties and capes…well, at least not in public…in broad daylight…what you do in the privacy of your own home is between you and your very understanding significant other.

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