“Ancestors, I ask you for your guidance. Blessed mother, come to me with the Gods’ desire for my future. Blessed father, watch over my wife and son with a ready sword. Whisper to them that I live only to hold them again. Ancestors, I honor you and will try to live with the dignity that you have taught me…”
―Maximus Decimus Meridius, Gladiator (2000)
Last month Valiant Entertainment released X-O Manowar #1 which sold an incredible 90,000+ copies making it not only the largest release from Valiant Entertainment since the publisher’s 2012 re-launch, but also 2017’s best-selling independent comic book series. From any publisher. Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. X-O Manowar achieving this level of visibility is quite noteworthy, in that we (the readers) presently exist in a golden age of comic books where the competition is harsh and the public flooded by a tidal wave of options.
It is also well deserved, as X-O Manowar #1 was (and is) a phenomenal comic book. Following writer Robert Venditti (X-O Manowar #1 through #50 which launched in 2012), the second volume of modern X-O Manowar is written by Matt Kindt (Ninjak, Divinity, Rai, and multiple other titles). The result has been a truly magnificent blending of fantasy and science fiction of the highest quality.
In every possible way, X-O Manowar is the epic space odyssey that readers and fans deserve. It is magical, yet gritty and grounded. It is bold and forward leaning, while familiar and able to be taken in. If a big budget film were to be made today based on the source material observed in X-O Manowar #1 and #2, it would be talked about by fans 25 years from now. This story exhibits a brilliant visual fusion of visual concepts inspired from such films as Saving Private Ryan (1998), Gladiator (2000), and Dune (1984) to such a degree that it is not really possible to not enjoy the artwork and story line if we are being 100% honest with ourselves.
Artist Tomás Giorello was the perfect choice to launch Kindt’s story. Giorello is best known for his work for Dark Horse on Conan the Cimmerian, King Conan, Star Wars: Clone Wars, Star Wars: Empire, and Star Wars: Republic, so his proven ability to depict strange worlds long ago in a galaxy far, far away; as well the magical age in the time before recorded time are exactly what Kindt’s vision for X-O Manowar moving forward needed. Giorello has worked on a number of Valiant titles prior to X-O Manowar, to include 2016’s War Mother #1 and Bloodshot: Reborn #18. Giorello uses graphite pencils to create his artwork, employing hatching and cross hatching techniques to create depth, texture, and shading. His lines are crisp and sharp, and shades appear quite natural. Renown colorist Brian Reber worked with Giorello on War Mother #1 and was able to color over his pencils with no significant adjustments or modifications which speaks volumes to the quality of Giorello’s work.
For X-O Manowar, colorist Diego Rodriguez is 120% on-point with his work and demonstrates a masterful understanding of his craft. Rodriguez brings everything to life and matches Giorello’s pencils without flaw. His color palette is organic and natural in appearance; but completely magical in execution.
X-O Manowar #2 is a brilliant interstellar epic that features compelling characters, a visually stunning setting, and exceptional story. Readers do not need to have an extensive background with these characters to jump into this story. It is everything that Valiant Entertainment promised and more, and well worth your time.