By Nolan P. Smith
(Victor Valley)– When Valiant Entertainment relaunched in 2005, there was one title that led the reinvention of the brand: X-O Manowar. The story of the Visigoth warrior turned intergalactic hero would be the book the ushered in the return of heroes like Bloodshoot, Ninjak, Archer & Armstrong as well as brought the world new titles like Britannia, Savage and the smash hit Divinity among others. Now, in 2017, it is time for the armored hero to reinvent himself once again as X-O Manowar launches into a brand new ongoing series, and a brand new status quo for Aric of Dacia.
Written by Matt Kindt (Divinity) with amazing artwork by Tomas Giorello (4001 A.D. Warmother) and color art by Diego Rodriguez, this debut issue is one that is easily accessible for anyone curious on trying out Valiant’s flagship book. Taking place on a distant planet, we see Aric in a very different setting than we saw him in last year. Grizzled, bruised and missing a hand, Aric leads a quiet life with a new wife, a new purpose, and no X-O suit. Of course, nothing calm and pleasant can stay, as Aric, with many able bodied men in the village, are ushered away to be the front line in a war. Armed with nothing but his fists and a nifty grapple gun hand, Aric shows that it was never the suit that made the warrior.
Kindt has become a staple in the Valiant Universe, and I am extremely thankful for that. He creates a story that is enjoyable as a single issue, but also sets the stage for what’s to come in the coming months. We do see the X-O suit, but why isn’t Aric wearing it? How did he lose a hand? Why is he staying on this planet? Kindt plants the seeds for us to see develop as the story continues. However, it is the artwork by Giorello that steals the show. His artwork is so vibrant, so detailed, it fits this epic issue perfectly. From the calm before the storm to being in the jaws of war, Giorello gives X-O Manowar the artistic style the hero deserves, creating easily one of the best looking comic books on the shelves today.
At the end of last year’s X-O Manowar #50, we saw a sneak peek to the future, which shows Aric sitting on a throne in the wake of carnage surrounding him. Is this the first step to Aric becoming a ruthless ruler, ready to crush all the oppose his will? Or maybe becoming a savior to a world torn apart by war? However it happens, I cannot wait for the next issue to hit. Kindt and Giorello have created one of the best debut issues in possibly the last decade. X-O Manowar is back, and all I can say is, “all hail the king.”
Nolan Smith is a longtime reporter with High Desert Daily, covering everything from the opening of a new comic book shop to a series on the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. A long time resident of the Victor Valley, Smith has worked in the educational sector in the High Desert for the past decade. He is also the Editor and Co-Founder of Pastrami Nation- a pop culture news site which features news, reviews and podcasts on various aspects of pop culture, including comic books, video games, films, anime, manga, cosplay and more. You can visit Pastrami Nation at www.pastramination.com.