X-O Manowar #1

Written by: Matt Kindt

Art by: Tomas Giorello and Diego Rodriguez

Published by: Valiant Comics

When Robert Vendetti wrote the first arc of Valiant Entertainment’s 2012 X-O Manowar series he wasn’t just writing a comic book – he was relaunching an entire universe.  He was kicking off the return of a once mighty comic book company.  This was a comic company that had already had one major relaunch in the mid-nineties to only meager success.  The 2012 relaunch paid homage to the original books from the early nineties and Vendetti knocked it out of the park.  He went to Fenway and knocked it right over the Green Monster.  The funny thing is X-O Manowar is basically the story of a barbarian who is out of time that finds a living suit of armor.  In Vendetti’s relaunch we are introduced to Aric but he never gains a hold of the suit of armor.  Not immediately.  It was something I did not expect and that blew me away.

50+ issues later Valiant “cancelled” X-O Manowar but that “cancellation” is short-lived.  I don’t blame Valiant – their counterparts at Marvel and DC cancel and relaunch titles all the time because they love #1 issues.  Maybe it is  because of the Millennials, counting past 50 is pretty tough.  When I picked up an Amazing Spider-Man at issue 284 I realized there was a ton of books that came before – I just didn’t care.  Trickery or good marketing?  I’m sure people who are a lot smarter than me have their reasons for relaunching books.  It’s just my “job” to review.

Aric is now living on the planet Gorin.  He’s living a simple life away from his days on Earth running around with his living suit of armor.  He has a hot alien babe.  He’s a farmer.  It’s a peaceful life – something that seemingly makes the Visigoth a happy man.

Unfortunately for Aric the planet Gorin is a place of war.  Not exactly a place to live out the rest of your days in peace.  Aric does his best to just stay out of the way and not get involved but its funny how when a war is on your doorstep it might not be so easy to avoid.

Aric isn’t called to war – he is forced.  It seems that he’s given an impossible mission.  Decisions are to be made.  Does he call upon the armor and just lay waste to everyone?  Does he go into battle without the armor and risk dying?  War has never been Aric’s problem.  The man was raised on fighting.  He also realizes that everyone action has an equal and opposite reaction.  So he makes his choice and goes forth with it.  That decision leads him into another huge fight but he goes into that fight on his own terms.  We all know Aric is a warrior.  Now we witness what happens when you put an amazing warrior smack dab into the middle of a war.

That’s my review.  Three simple paragraphs.  You want the comic ruined?  Go to some other site.  Or just buy the damn book – that usually works better.

I will say that writer Matt Kindt launches his first issue more Venditti than Jim Shooter and Steve Englehart.  I applaud that this is the approach that Valiant takes.  They realize that the story is more than a Visigoth with a suit of armor.  It is about a man with the near-power of a God at his fingertips and how he chooses to use that power.  It’s Aric’s choice and how those choices affect the rest of the world around him.  Honestly the book should just be called “Aric”…but it is quite easy to admit that X-O Manowar is WAY more catchy.

I’m going to admit that I’m unfamiliar with the artwork of Tomas Giorello but he does a great job on this book from peaceful times to scenes of war.  He really captures Aric’s stoic toughness.  Tomas can also draw one hell of an alien girlfriend, I’ll tell you that much.

I’m going to take a simple review approach and tell you if this relaunch is bad, mediocre, good, or great.  I think it is pretty great.

Was a relaunch actually needed?  I’m going to look at it this way: Venditti told his story and maybe Valiant felt that once Venditti’s story was done they would launch a new book for a whole new story by a whole new author.  If that’s the thought process I guess I can appreciate it.  Venditti did a damn fine job with his X-O run and it deserves to be celebrated.  Now being an old skool kat I can always appreciate a title going on and on and on.  But again – I don’t run a comic company and I’m sure no one cares that I would rather have issue 51 than issue 1.  I’m sure what they do care about is if they made a quality title.

They did.

I’m interested in seeing where this goes.  From the planet to the setup it is all a bit intriguing.  Aric is on his own – there are no Ninjaks, Bloodshots, or Renegades to come to his aid.  For better or for worse he is on his own.  I personally can’t wait to see where that journey takes us.