X-O MANOWAR #1
Writer: Robert Venditti
Art: Cary Nord
It’s the comic book event a decade in the making! The all-new Valiant Universe kicks off with a landmark, oversized # 1 issue of X-O Manowar by New York Times-bestselling author Robert Venditti (The Surrogates, The Homeland Directive) and Eisner Award-winning artist Cary Nord (Conan)! Born into battle, Aric of Dacia — heir to the throne of the Visigoth people — has never known peace. After a brutal encounter with a mysterious enemy known as The Vine leaves him a prisoner on an incomprehensible world, the only hope Aric has of returning to his family and saving them from slavery is to seize a weapon of incalculable destruction and become X-O Manowar! The Vine destroyed Aric’s world. Now he will give them war.
This is a big book as the spearhead of Valiant Entertainments uber publicised relaunch and with such huge talent as Robert Venditti and Cary Nord onboard the expectation is on delivery of a product humming with quality.
I didn’t want to like this comic as much as I did, because I’m always looking for holes in the hype, but it had the feel of something Robert E. Howard might have wrote with a twist of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and that’s an irresistible combo. It’s Conan the Barbarian in space fighting aliens with a slightly more historically embedded protagonist in Aric, a testy Visigoth who has no doubt in his abilities and a tendency to rush headlong into battles despite what seems like insurmountable odds.
And he loses.
He’s not indestructible and he’s more of a hot headed disappointment. And this makes him an instantly more interesting character whereas a less rounded, more capable take which could have felt hollow and forced, especially in the pivotal first issue.
The art is great from Dark Horse regular Cary Nord who really is perfect for a series that opens on a vast ancient battle field, then goes galactic to show an entire alien armada with a hidden agenda perched in orbit. Nord has an old school fantasy style and his art is richly pencilled, yet fluid. He’s not afraid to leave a panel empty but for the figures that inhabit it and the detail is there, but never to the point where it’s overbearing.
The story itself has all the trappings of a Roy Thomas tale, only with better dialogue and what looks like a serious amount of research into the period (which is always rewarding for my inner ancient history geek). Importantly; things are kept simple, there is no burden of complex back story or baggage and the focus is always on Aric. While the action and overarching plot are above and beyond his simple freedom/vengeance motives for the meantime, it’s obvious that this tale is his, and what we’ll eventually get could be a great character driven piece.
It’s sci-fi from the point of view of a more primitive human, and one that who has been beaten down considerably by wars, none of which his people have emerged the victor. And I’m chomping at the bit to see the fallout of what will essentially be Conan donning the Valiant Universe’s Equivalent of the Iron Man armor.
In A Nut Shell:
Action packed, brilliantly re-conceived and sublimely easy to get into and enjoy X-O Manowar is a brilliant debut from a re-emerging publisher and I eagerly await the next issue to see just where this series goes next.
Age Of Apocalypse #3
AOA Wolverine is resurrecting dead X-Men to destroy the human race. • Jean Grey continues her training to join the X-Terminated. • The humans find their ‘atomic bomb’ to defeat Wolverine.
David Lapham and Roberto De La Torre’s excellent pulpy, grimy and dark revisiting of the fan favorite AoA Universe is one of the best things on the racks. Brassy characters, great world building and politics, excellent team dynamics and a ‘nobody’s safe’ policy stapled to the door, this is a no holes barred survival horror with a super-team dynamic. Pick it up now, while it’s still fresh. The latest issue racks up the casualties.Tags: x-o manowar