ADVANCE Comic Book Review: X-O Manowar #1
There’s always that one flagship hero who you manage to cling to through thick and thing till the end of a run. I was proud to say that was able to see X-O Manowar #1 through the 50 issues of his previous run as he made his mark on the Valiant Universe as its most formidable hero. Luckily with this new X-O Manowar tale everyone gets that chance to see what is so great about this character and what heights he can achieve.
Now this new story is in fact welcoming to whether you’re a longtime reader or a Valiant newcomer. It takes place much further in time from where the last story ended for the X-O Manowar. Everyone is pretty much on the same level of understanding as to what is going on this point in time and what happened up to this point. Sure an altogether newcomer might want to get the gist of Aric’s story or history, though I believe the importance is in who Aric is now. That is usually what you find so appealing about Valiant’s stories, it is about the quality of the story told itself rather than worries about everything else that doesn’t focus on the characters themselves. For instance you could ask what the heck happened to his arm, yet all you would need to know is that Aric is the type of warrior who will throw himself into the kind of fights where the consequence could be a missing limb.
The appeal in the way Aric’s story begins is in how they shine a light on the current relationship between he and his armor, Shanhara his armor. It was shocking to see that he had reached some point where the armor could speak to him. I’m sure that in some sense it could before, but his armor is not like the others out there. It should be very interesting to explore what this could mean considering he is reluctant to take up the mantle. The importance of the hero beneath the mask is always important either way even if it was only a matter of time before the X-O Manowar armor is going to be needed.
Where this new story grabs you is in the way we see war in its purest form. As vital as it may have been to find out how Aric of all people could be conscripted into an alien army and thrown into an unforgiving conflict, it was just as much to painted a strong picture of the life he has thrown himself into. Matt Kindt was a perfect choice for writer of X-O Manowar story as well. He’s able to give us exactly what makes Aric such a formidable warrior at the core, even without his armor or left arm. Given his experience in writing a number of Valiant stories up to this point, there was a strong focus on the here and now rather than worrying about continuity or what happened between the past and this point in time. All that matters is how this warrior is finding out the hard way that you simply can’t run from your troubles as they have a way of finding you eventually. You do have to wonder why he would choose a planet like this, though hopefully that explanation will come in issues to follow.
Tomas Giorello and Diego Rodriguez like Kindt are perfect choices as the art team for this new X-O Manowar. Giorello is very detailed and creative with this new race of alien seen, and realizes the importance in setting when it comes to a story taking place on a different planet. For the characters in particular I liked that you could see the effort they put into making their physiology unique, including the way those more human presented themselves not being native to Earth. Aric was a sight to see when this story began. For those of us who are longtime readers, it was a lot to take in to see what he physically has been through. He looks like he’s weary of all the fighting, or even frustrated. And all those scars and missing body parts tell a story of their own to make you believe that he has been through some stuff to actually abandon Earth. The more faded colors were the best effect added to capture the serious tone this carries. Rodriguez had a good handle of how he wanted to breathe life into this planet and its inhabitants. That kick of sand throughout and the look of desolation spoke to the situation Aric has landed himself into. All in all the color scheme gave this a style that mixed something classic and one that gave this the look of an epic in progress. I have a soft spot for anything that gives this impression so I do believe they have nailed it.
This is still Aric at the end of the day, but this is a whole new warrior we are dealing with. A satisfactory start to a new direction for the X-O Manowar that everyone can enjoy because this is war in its raw form. Always is and always will be when one of the most powerful beings in the universe enters the fray once more.