|Greg Land Cover||Jenny Frison Cover|
|Covers by Greg Land and Jenny Frison ship in 50/50 split.|
After the Twilight of the Gods, the world is precariously uncertain - and Xena and Gabrielle have been missing from it for twenty-five years. Even without Livia, the power of Rome is growing: Caesar is determined to conquer by lies what he can't conquer by force, and the people at its edges know what's coming. (All roads lead to Rome, and Rome is hunting.)
Xena and Gabrielle scramble to stop him before they have to wage war against a man they once called a friend. But along the way, Xena will have to confront her past against a rogue band of women warriors, and Gabrielle, whose secret visions are becoming prophecy, will have to protect Xena - at any cost.
Dynamite Entertainment's Keith Davidson sat down for a chat with Genevieve Valentine about Xena: Warrior Princess #1 (FEB161353)!
Keith Davidsen: Xena: Warrior Princess #1 marks a return to adventure for the cult favorite character. What do you see as the essential components that make up a good Xena story?
Genevieve Valentine: One of the things I love so much about Xena is how many different essential components there are to choose from! It was a show that understood the full range of its adventures, and knew exactly how to set off comedy with drama, or play in a sandbox of mythology and alternate history. But one of my favorite things about Xena has always been that no matter how alternate that history got, or how goofy the comedy, there was a sense of weight and substance from the characters at its center that we could come back to. Aphrodite is amazing comic relief, but her soft spot for Gabrielle gives her dimension; Xena's fight scenes are epic, but we see enough of her past to understand the hard lessons that have gotten her here — as skilled as she is, fighting for the things she fights for now. I think that sense of "anything goes" that still never outstrips the characters is really at the heart of any Xena story.
Keith Davidsen: The dynamic between the Warrior Princess and her trusty companion Gabrielle remains one of the most beloved aspects of the franchise. What are your thoughts on those characters, how they relate with one another in the setting of the new series?
Genevieve Valentine: I think they're totally necessary for one another at this point in their lives, both as characters and in terms of storytelling. We see so much of Xena's past that her arc is essentially a parabola — from the thrill of her wild days to the lowest point of her sense of self, and that long climb back. Obviously, Gabrielle is a huge part of why her life takes the shape it takes after they meet. And though Gabrielle meets Xena a lot earlier in her own journey, we see her go through the gauntlet repeatedly, and change in ways that sometimes surprise her. Of course, so much of why they work together is that Xena's reticence and cynicism is balanced by Gabrielle's compassion, but it isn't just blind optimism — it's that compassion is a choice she makes over and over, and Xena recognizes that in a way that matters. And where we pick up from the show canon, they've been through so much that we have all that history to draw on; they both have intelligence and will within disparate personalities that have by now made room for one another, and it really makes them a great pair to write for.
Keith Davidsen: The latest Xena adventure takes place in the historical setting of Caesar's Roman Empire. What inspired that time period and place, and how does that setting complement or challenge our heroines?
Genevieve Valentine: I think some of Xena's best storytelling has been the things that cost them, and the show always made great use of both the gods and the Caesars in that way; power corrupts no matter how long you're going to live. But there's also that sense that Xena was more comfortable in the realm of the singular battle than in dealing with the ways large groups of people give in to power; it was actually easier to fight the gods than it was to outmaneuver Julius Caesar. And that weight of the characters' history is so present after Gabrielle and Xena deal with young Octavius and then meet him after being gone a lifetime and seeing that, sure enough, he's as fallible as any other Caesar when it comes to the lure of power. The wake of this very eventful return to the timeline felt like a great place to explore some of the chaos of this Empire.
Keith Davidsen: Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about the enemy (or enemies) that Xena will face?
Genevieve Valentine: Xena and Gabrielle will definitely realize early that Rome's power is going to be a major force in this new world — becoming an Empire is a messy business, and it's a beast with a thousand heads. But Gabrielle's visions have also returned, which force her to decide how much of the future to share with Xena, while Xena will be coming face-to-face with some warriors from her past — and though she's been gone twenty-five years, not all of them have forgiven or forgotten. (They also have to sneak into a casino, but the biggest enemy there is the décor.)
Keith Davidsen: Xena has such a fiercely loyal fan base. How does that affect your approach to storytelling? Would you consider it both a blessing and a burden?
Genevieve Valentine: I think anything that's made such an impact on audiences comes with a certain awareness; you know you're telling a story with characters who mean a lot to people. And inevitably, different aspects of the story will appeal differently — we all have our favorite beats. But from all I've seen from Xena fans online, it's a passionate group of people who love both the goofiness and the fearlessness of what makes the show so special, and I'm really excited to be exploring these characters and their world, from murderous political propaganda to heartbreak to undercover casino capers — because it's Xena, and you can!