X-O Manowar #2

Written by: Matt Kindt

Art by: Tomas Giorello and Diego Rodriguez

Published by: Valiant Comics

You ever see Batman Begins?  Remember when you are watching the movie and it is like Bruce Wayne in court, Bruce Wayne talks to a gangster, Bruce Wayne climbs a mountain, Bruce Wayne gets ninja training.  Bruce Wayne, Bruce Wayne, Bruce Wayne.  I’ve seen this movie maybe twenty times and nearly every time I’m just like, “GET TO THE DAMN BATMAN!”

When Valiant relaunched X-O just a few years ago it took the same approach.  It introduced us to Aric of Dacia, showed him kidnapped, showed him being a slave, and then plotting his escape.  He does eventually get the X-O armor and kick some ass.  Thank god.

But here in the new series?  Aric is on an alien planet fighting a war.  Here he actually has the armor.  It is available to him.  It’s right there.  He can put on the armor and kick everyone’s ass.  And do you know what he does?

GUESS I SHOULD MARK THIS AS A SPOILER:

If you guess NOT put on the armor you, my friend, are correct.

If I was to describe this issue in one word that word would be ‘frustrating.’  I’m pretty sure I know exactly what Matt Kindt is trying to accomplish here.  Aric is tired of the armor.  He is a warrior.  Always has been, always will be.  And if he is drafted into this war he is going to do it his own way.  Not by using the armor but by using his own strength, intelligence, skill, and prowess to win the day.  That’s what Aric does the entire issue.  He is a leader who excels at taking down an enemy at any cost.

If I was to make an analogy perhaps we can look at the nuclear arms race and say, “Well we have nuclear missiles but we don’t use them.  They are a deterrent because to use them could cause destruction to the entire planet.”  So maybe that’s the rationale of Aric.  He’s a hell of a fighter and feels he doesn’t need the armor to win a war.

So good for him.  Me?  I have the most powerful suit of armor in the entire fucking world?  I’m wearing the goddamn suit of armor.

Aric should too.  The book is still called X-O Manowar.  If Aric wants to be on another planet and fight a war without it good for him.  Then we should totally have the book ‘Aric of Dacia #2’ and I’d still totally read it.  This being the story of a warrior in a suit of armor…I’d just like the warrior to actually wear the suit of armor.  You keep waiting for it but it never happens.  This issue is the equivalent of getting a girl up to your college dorm room.  She’s there.  You are fumbling with her bra clasp.  For some reason it’s stuck.  And so you sit there and wait…knowing something awesome is coming.  Shortly…shortly…but it just seems to be taking FOR-EV-ER.

Enough of me griping about what I want and my expectations versus what I read and the reality.  How is the actual issue in terms of writing and artwork?

Let’s talk writing and story.  The issue feels very much like a piece of the puzzle and in no way is a standalone issue.  This is the case with most of Valiant’s books – there is usually an overall story they are trying to tell.  Which is fine – except that this particular issue feels particularly episodic and a small piece of the larger pie.

Really the story is simply about Aric and a group of soldiers infiltrating a stronghold to take down a badass alien mofo and his cannon fodder.  I’m not really sure what else to say about it.  In terms of story this issue is infiltration, fighting, and death.  The point?  That Aric is a skilled soldier and leader.  He can kind of be awesome without the armor (though it is not entirely true).

The artwork?  It is fantastic.  Tomas Giorello is doing one hell of a job on this book and visually it is the best looking book I’ve seen in years.  The detail he is able to draw is stunning.  Just look at this one panel above.  How the fuck does one man draw that?  That is some high level shit right there.

Overall the book is pretty good.  While the story itself can be considered pretty simplistic I’m sure when seen in context it’ll make more sense.  I realize I may be just a bit impatient here but I’m okay with that too.   I’ve been reading his comics for the past 25 years.  I know he is a badass in and out of the armor.  But let’s have MORE ARMOR.

I can’t wait to see where this book is going…

RANK: B+