It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another new edition of Kickin’ It Old School, our weekly column in which we look to the past and review books from the original Valiant universe! This week, I’ll be discussing X-O Manowar #2.
X-O Manowar #2
Published in March 1992
Written by Jim Shooter & Steve Englehart
Penciled by Sal Velluto
Inked by Tom Ryder, Bob Layton & Kathryn Bolinger
Colored by Jorge Gonzalez and The Toasters
Aric is fighting a heavily armored alien and struggling to find what will spill its juice. He realizes that his armor is stronger than the aliens and quickly dispatches it. He then resumes taking Ken to a doctor friend’s house to get his severed arm patched up. While there, Ken is trying to help Aric learn how to utilize his armor better as Aric is slowly figuring it out on his own as well. Suddenly, more spider aliens bust through the wall of the house. Aric easily takes them down, but they kidnap Ken to use as bait to lure Aric to their base.
Aric sets out to find Ken and begins to listen to his armor. The spider aliens utilize this to guide Aric where they want him to go without him knowing that he’s being led. Aric continues to destroy the spider alien bases that he finds along the way, leading the spider aliens Lydia and Prather to plot to defeat Aric with cunning rather than might. Meanwhile, Ken gets loose from the spider aliens when they are trying to transfer him.
Once Aric arrives at the alien base, he discovers them posing as an empire as from his past. After blowing off the head of the “emperor” Prather, the guards yield and Lydia acts submissive to lower Aric’s guard. He removes his armor so she can bathe him and she begins talking to him since the armor isn’t there to translate. When she says is name, it’s the one word he can recognize and he realizes that his god, Lugh, is supposed to be the only one that knows his name.
Right before Lydia sinks her fangs into Aric, he stabs her in the heart. While she tries to get away, he grabs her dress to pull her back, disrobing her and revealing her as a spider alien. She crashes through the window and plummets to her death. We cut back to Ken wondering where all the spider aliens are as Aric calls out to him over the communications system.
This issue does a great job of tying up Aric’s first major threat, the spider aliens Lydia and Prather, with a story that illustrates his growth of knowledge in how to use the armor. He learns that it will communicate with him, albeit not with words. It’s his greatest weapon. It guards him while he sleeps. It translates, guides, interacts with technology, and so many other things. The growth of Aric’s bond with and understanding of the X-O armor is so well woven with the progression of the plot that it feels as natural to the reader as it does to Aric. This is great story telling that allows us to bond with Aric as he bonds with the armor, developing empathy for him and compassion for those he cares about. This makes the book about more than action and provides a much more satisfying experience for the reader.
Originally from ValiantCentral.com