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X-O Manowar #0

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by Robert Venditti, Clay Mann

X-O Manowar has remained Valiant’s flagship title since the relaunch of 2012, and with good reason. Yet, through all his battles, we have yet to learn much about Aric’s past before he donned the armor – that is, until this issue.

The story

X-O Manowar’s story opens in Thrace with Aric and his friend Gafti delivering killing blows to injured Roman soldiers after a battle in Thrace. We learn that Aric and Gafti are among the oldest boys in the tribe to not have been asked to join the Visigoth armies in battle, instead just used to kill the wounded.

In a great scene between Rolf and Inga, Aric’s parent, we learn the reason why Aric and Gafti have not yet joined the army, and why they now must – Aric’s uncle Alaric has become general and is in line to become the next Visigoth king. Aric overhears the news and runs away scared, hiding under a wagon. As Aric finally goes into battle, he learns what it is to experience death first hand. When a fellow Visigoth is decapitated before his very eyes, and with the threat of his best friend Gafti’s death, we get the first glimpse of the person we know Aric to be today.

If you’ve been following Aric’s story from the beginning, you will absolutely love what Robert Venditti has done in this issue. We all know Aric as a tough, gun-ho fighter, but it was great to see that he was not always that way. Seeing Aric be afraid to make a kill and hiding from the world at the thought of going to war is in direct juxtaposition to the character we know and love and it was perfectly done. There is so much character development within these pages that even new readers should be able to pick this book up and enjoy.

You may be wondering about the dialogue, and I can say you will not be disappointed. As an example, here are some lines from the last page which sum up the beauty of this book and Aric’s progression quite nicely:

Victorious or no, battle reveals the difference between what a warrior believes he is, and what he truly is. That is a truth I will shoulder alone.

The art

X-O Manowar #0 serves as the introductory issue for new Valiant exclusive artist Clay Mann, and what a debut it is. Clay Mann’s art is clean, crisp, and absolutely stunning. There is not a single panel in this book that isn’t full of intricate detail, making this one of the most visually polished books Valiant has published. Most of the book takes place in the past, and Mann does a great job with the period pieces, and illustrating the large scale battles between the Visigoths and Romans. I was overjoyed to see his take on Aric and the X-O armor in the modern day with some very dynamic panels and beautiful scenes, showing that Mann can really do anything. I cannot wait to see his work on Ninjak. Rounding art the color team is Romulo Fajardo who continues to do solid work for Valiant.

Overall

Whether you’re a fan of this book or just looking for a jumping on point, X-O Manowar #0 is a perfectly crafted story with beautiful art that everyone will love. This is an origin story worthy of Valiant’s flagship title.

X-O Manowar

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  • Lee Nicholson

    OK!! Wow! Wow! Wow!
    Firstly, the art!! Clay Mann has drew the **** out of this issue! It is one of the best looking books I have read through in some time. Everything about the art is spot on perfect. The foreground, the background, the amount of detail is extraordianry and total props to the whole team who worked on this book. I cannot say enough good stuff about this zero issue.
    I am not, generally, a big fan of Zero issues. I like the origin to be told early on, and then snippets here and there while a story progresses. To have an entire issue dedicated to a character pre-Armor, was for me, initally a bit off putting. But how wrong was I !! Venditti just gets better and better! The way he writes is like a perfectly flowing stream – you just want to immerse yourself in it.
    The great thing about this issue is that the subject is a great character. What we know of Aric now is not how we see him early on in this book – we are so used to seeing a big, strong, forceful and confident man, in the early part of this Zero issue though we see an amateur who is unsure of his true potential and capabilities. A young man who has never truely experienced battle and someone who even gets squeemish around dead bodies and blood. How times have changed!
    Aric is accompinied in his early years by Gafti, who we know from the early X-O books. Their tragic relationship reminds me alot of the Peter/Joe Irons relationship – a brotherly bond that that is broken due to outside threats. The death of Gafti and Joe have a huge impact on our Valiant heroes.
    Being able to see Gafti in these early years was a real treat. A confident, seal assured young man who has no trouble sticking his sword thorough the half dead Roman legions that lie scattered across the battle field. He seems to relish this, and it is a great mirror image of how we view Aric.
    It is only when Aric sees the ones he loves in mortal danger that he finally realises his destiny and true potential, saving the life of his best friend and proving to his father and the men around him, that Aric of Darcia has come of age. It is a great sight to see and a proper ‘hooray’ moment. Talk about goosebumps.
    The art in these pages is simply stunning. Seeing the Visigoth’s on the battlefield is a wonderful sight to see, decapitation and all, for the reader, a visual delight.
    We are finally exposed to the Aric we know and love, and now his course towards the Armor can begin.

    The final few pages show us what Aric is up to now, doing exactly what we expect him to do, saving the Earth from deadly monster-things, still ‘working’ for the US Government and being a family man and King to his people. The last panel, for me, gave a very ‘Superman’ feel, with Aric blasting off to save someone from something – there is always someone that needs saving.

    I loved this book.

    5/5