Raul Allen Gears Up For Valiant’s ‘Secret Weapons’ [Interview]
Secret Weapons was a Valiant team-up book from the '90s that starred Livewire, Bloodshot, and Geomancer. Later this year, the franchise gets a 21st century reboot that places Livewire front and center where she belongs. In June, Eric Heiserrer, Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín will relaunch Secret Weapons as Livewire rounds up the kids with powers deemed too insignificant for Toyo Harada's Harbinger program.
ComicsAlliance chatted with Allén about his collaboration process in defining the visual language of Secret Weapons, Livewire's role as a lead character, and the re-emergence of iconic Valiant villain Rex-o.
CA: What can you tell us about the new team of Secret Weapons and how you approached their designs?
Raúl Allén: First of all, I would like to clarify that [colorist] Patricia Martín played an integral part of the look and feel of the characters as well as the look of the comic.
The main concern was to create designs that worked in the real world. These are characters that have been abandoned, so they try to blend in as much as possible, but that doesn't mean they have to lose their personality. I see Nikki and Owen picking up their outfit either at a thrift store or from a hanging clothesline. Sunil however, is very practical but with a sense of style. Both Eric Heisserer and [editor] Warren Simons weighed in a lot, and there were many iterations of the designs.
At some point, the cast was looking a bit too much like they were part of an urban tribe, which happened in an attempt to unify them as part of a team. But we all felt it was a bit forced. Since these are characters who have been discarded and told they are worthless --- and while they discover how they can work as a team --- those feelings bring them closer together in a unique way. So, giving them each their own unique look made a lot more sense Then to add the final touch, we used color to unify their look.
CA: The new team features characters with powers classified as useless by Toyo Harada that Livewire sees potential in. How closely did you work alongside Eric and Patricia to create the characters and how their powers worked, from the ground up?
RA: Eric has mentioned before that while working on the scripts for the Harbinger and Bloodshot movies, he imagined new ways to use the character’s powers. And while our characters have apparently useless powers, a lot of the book’s essence is about them learning their value. So this is an exciting transformation that the characters are going to have to go through, that we can hopefully build together using the seeds that Eric has already planted.
CA: The original Secret Weapons series featured Livewire, but in a much different role to the one she plays in the current Valiant universe. Did you go back to that for inspiration on the new volume?
RA: A while ago, before this incarnation of Secret Weapons, I tried out some concept art for a new look for Livewire, but it eventually went in a different direction. However, that first approach helped me gain a strong grasp on the character and further my interest on Amanda. So when Warren reached out to me about this series, I had a clear idea of how to depict her. Her design was pretty much locked in, but since the series placed her in a more urban setting, I was able to add some small touches that let her blend in more.
CA: Secret Weapons revamps Rex-O, who hasn’t been seen in the Valiant relaunch as of yet. How did you tackle the design for the classic villain?
RA: Rex-O is an evolving work in progress with so many layers, and needed to have a darker look than in the classic book. So, we completely revamped the character.
For this, I worked hand-in-hand with my colleague David Astruga, who I owe a great deal to for the design of the hellscape in my first arc of Wrath of the Eternal Warrior. He is a master when it comes to bringing nightmares to life, and this time was no exception.
There is a lot of roughness in every aspect of the character, down to the way he has been put together and programmed. Whatever part of Rex-O’s being is human, is dominated by the technological and alien parts. There are a lot of layers here.
CA: Lastly, will we see any other Valiant heroes and villains making cameos, and are there plans for the Secret Weapons to venture beyond into the larger Valiant Universe?
RA: Considering the relevance of Livewire and her connections in the Valiant Universe, I think it can be expected to see many surprises in the series... I just can't reveal how many, or the extent of what's coming. This is going to be one of the most thrilling books coming out of Valiant, and definitely not one to be missed. I am super excited to be a part of it.
Secret Weapons #1 is on sale June 28th, check out a preview of the issue below: