Written by MATT KINDT
Art by TOMÁS GIORELLO with DAVID MACK
Cover A by LEWIS LAROSA (MAR172157)
Cover B by KENNETH ROCAFORT
Interlocking Variant Cover by MICO SUAYAN
X-O Manowar Icon Variant by DAVID MACK
X-O Manowar continues the be one of the best new comics of 2017, and one of the most fun series period. As we are on the precipice of summer movie season you may not find better blockbuster action than what exists on the pages of of X-0 Manowar. Considering that Aric of Dacia has barely been in his infamous armor suit that is saying a great deal. What this series has been able to demonstrate is the strong warrior spirit that has made Aric the flagship hero of the Valiant universe is certainty not suit deep.
What writer Matt Kindt is currently doing is by no means revolutionary. Taking away the key element people most commonly associate with an iconic hero has been quite the common trend as of late. Most recently with Marvel we have seen Thor no longer be worthy to lift his hammer along with Doctor Strange survive in a world without magic. Despite its commonality it is a trope that can be very effective especially when you are trying to take a character in a bold new direction. The development so far has been mostly dedicated to show Aric’s attempt to flee the horrors of the battlefield was a insincere goal he was never attending to fully achieve. Slowly but surely Aric is discovering he has been using the armor as a crutch in more ways than one. It is not the armor that is provoking his lust for the battlefield it is his own need to find satisfaction through conquest. Again this is not a bold direction to take as that is a result most would expect, but Kindt’s run so far has reminded readers that vizagads are not to be messed with.
This issue continues Aric and his rag tag crew’s attempt to lower the Cadium shields to allow the Azure forces to begin their bombardment of the city. Complications arise when the Cadium President shows up and Aric sees it as an opportunity to capture him and finally end the war, but with the incoming bombardment he may not get to him in time or die trying. Again this book is full of some bloody and intense action, and my only big concern is if we are getting too much of it too soon.
Before the action begins though we get some more background into the current war Aric has now found himself in. We learn the atrocities the Cadium race has inflicted upon others for the sole purpose of their own pleasure. With these stories we get some greater context of this conflict and Aric is provided with deeper motivation to take part in these battles. As an individual who suffered at the hand of the Roman empire some direct comparisons can be made between what he went through and what the Cadium are currently doing. My only concern is that while readers can understand the actions he is taking we are getting a clear enough picture of his full character outside of his warrior sensibility. When the action slows down will this book be nearly as good? That is a question that has yet to fully be answered.
Tomas Giorello and David Mack both provide some remarkable art in this issue. When you open a comic with a decent sized amount of exposition like this has it could become quite stale immediately. Here the opening pages look like these impressionistic Renaissance paintings that visually reinforce why this current conflict works on both character and narrative standpoint . With the drastic change of styles there is somewhat of an artistic whiplash as we go from those pages to typical series art style. Something could have been done to ease that transition to make it less jarring for the reader. It was like someone hit the next chapter button on the remote before the scene was completed.
It is easy to get over as Giorello’s work continues to be phenomenal. His creative use of paneling and free flowing style leads to some fluid action sequences and quick pacing. You can almost find your eye going through the pages too quickly and not appreciating the page as much as you should. As someone who was unaware of Giorello before this series he has quickly becoming one of my current favorite artists.
If you are a fan of superhero comics but find the current slate of the big two stale this is an ideal place to jump into this world. Valiant consistency puts out quality content and this series so far is able to both satisfy long time readers while giving new readers a place to begin without feeling lost or confused. Simply put this relaunch has done everything right a relaunch should.