Every week I’ll be writing a review of a previous issue of a Valiant book to introduce new readers to the books and maybe get some of you rabid Valiant fans to go through your long boxes and reread older issues. Note that there will be spoilers for the issue reviewed, but no hints of future events or story lines to make the reviews as self-contained as possible. This week, I’ll be reviewing X-O Manowar #1, the book that started it all.
X-O Manowar was one of the few Valiant books I read during previous incarnations, and while some of the character and story elements remain similar to the original, Robert Venditti has masterfully crafted a reimagining of the characters which should appeal to old and new readers alike.
The book starts off with an epic battle between the Visigoths and Romans, introducing readers to elements which define Aric’s character and shapes his reaction to future events. While Aric may be headstrong and act irrational at times in this book, Venditti shows that he has been shaped by the cruel and violent world in which he lives. Aric attempts a night time ambush on Roman forces and is abducted by visiting aliens, the Vine, who depart with his men into the far reaches of space.
The back half of the book introduces readers to some of the Vine’s religious practices and their ritual to bond one of their warriors with Shanhara, a mysterious armor which apparently destroys anyone who attempts to bond with it. Aric hatches a plan to escape with his men, and steal Shanhara.
The pacing is great and there is enough action to keep the pacing moving. Even the slower scenes are interesting as they clearly establish personalities and motivations for many key characters on both sides of the struggle – human and Vine. Gripping storytelling!
Cary Nord on art – need I say more? Nord has shown he is able to pencil barbarians and awesome action sequences during his run on Conan the Barbarian, and his art style fits right into this book. While there are some dark and brooding scenes, they fit the narrative perfectly, and are balanced by bright and vibrant colors in other panels. I can’t wait to see him pencil Aric in his suit!
My only complain with this issue is that there is no Aric in armor, but this is, after all, a first issue, and Venditti and Nord do a fantastic job weaving an origin narrative. If you haven’t picked up this book yet, do yourself a favor and go get it!
Originally from ValiantCentral.com