So this is a story all about an ancient Visigoth warrior who was abducted by aliens, stole a sentient suit of armor to survive, and found himself in the modern day. Rather than recount the past, X-O Manowar #1 is all about the present and Aric of Dacia’s struggle to be a hero in today’s world. Aric’s attempts at superheroics are often left … wanting. Sure, he stops the alien invasion, but he leaves the ship in the middle of the highway.
I really like how Dennis Hallum writes Aric. X-O is seen as the most powerful hero in the Valiant Universe — on par with Superman himself. And like Superman, he’s helping to stop all sorts of dangers: alien invasions, terrorist attacks, runaway car chases, and the like. But he’s also spending time with local neighborhood kids playing basketball and sharing food with the homeless. No one is beneath his attention. But that’s where the comparison with Superman ends. He isn’t the perfect hero. He doesn’t flawlessly save the day, and that’s often due to the fact that he doesn’t understand modern-day people. In a way, he’s more alien than Superman because he comes from a group of fifth century nomadic warriors. It’ll be interesting to see how Aric evolves as a character and as a hero as he connects with other characters.
Emilio Laiso does a great job on art duties. At times, the panels feel cinematic, showing the descent of the crashing spaceship that caught fire. Explosions galore!
Colors are important for setting the tone of any book. In the past, X-O Manowar stories have used muted or dark colors — coming across as a gritty Conan the Barbarian-meets-Star Wars space epic. X-O Manowar #1 is a pure superhero book. Ruth Redmond’s colors are bright and vibrant, lending to that Superman kind of vibe I mentioned earlier.
There were times throughout the book where I felt the dialogue was quite heavy. Aric talks to his armor throughout the issue, resulting in pages that were full of speech balloons and not nearly enough art in my opinion.
X-O Manowar #1 is about a character who could be a great superhero but just isn’t there yet. And there’s a new villain in the background biding their time. It’s a great jumping-on point for new readers looking for some classic superhero action; no previous X-O Manowar experience necessary.