X-O Manowar was the Valiant re-launch’s flagship title and rightfully so. Picture Russel Crowe in Gladiator, but he’s wearing Iron Man’s armor and fighting alien spiders bent on world domination. This book never disappoints, delivering a gripping fast paced story, with art to match. Robert Venditti is a savvy writer, writing for the comic fan, not just telling a story. I can see why DC scooped him up, I enjoyed his take on Demon Knights so far and can see his long-term ideas coming to fruition in this book.
Aric is a 5th Century Visigoth barbarian, bent on getting revenge on the Romans for kidnapping his wife, mother and other female members of his tribe after a fierce battle. Mistaking a group of armored aliens for a Roman Legion, Aric leads his men in attack, only to be cut down and taken as slaves aboard the alien ship. The Vine, as these aliens are called, are slowly insinuating themselves among humanity by genetically modifying young Vine to look like humans and replacing people here and there throughout the ancient world. Slowly these plantlings will interbreed with humans and come to dominate the population.
Aric, and other kidnapped humans from around the world, are made to work in the ship’s gardens and other hard labor duties. Kept for years in inhumane conditions, Aric, ever the warrior, plots a revolt and succeeds. Overcoming the guards on the ship and leading his men to the armory, Aric discovers, the X-O Manowar armor within. Unbeknownst to him the Vine worships the X-O armor. Once belonging to their greatest soldier, the suit has killed any Vine warrior who tried to don it since, and they’ve been trying for millennia. So you can imagine their surprise when Shanhara (their holy name for the armor) bonds with Aric, a dirty human, instantly. It gave him not only defensive armor, but responded to Aric’s warrior nature by providing him with weapons to fight off the Vine and escape their ship.
Responding to his wish to return home to Rome, the X-O armor teleports back to Earth right in the middle of the Coliseum. Oh wait, its Rome 2012. Thanks to the Theory of Relativity and space travel, a few years for Aric was 16 centuries for Earth. With no Romans to kill and his wife and friends long dead, our out-of-time barbarian in his alien-super-death-suit has plenty of frustration and anger built up. After a few missteps with Italian police and air force, as well as a conspiracy revealing battle with Ninjak, Britains ultimate spy-ninja, The Vine have arrived on earth to capture X-O and kill Aric. They have also decided to abandon the earth as a colony and raze the planet of mankind. It looks like Aric will have a place to vent that frustration after all.
This two issue prelude to Planet Death, drawn by the talented Trevor Hairsine, is the perfect jumping on point for anyone foolish enough not to be reading this book. Leading into the Planet Death arc (featuring the return of Cary Nord on pencils) X-O Manowar promises to be the book to watch from Valiant for the next coming months. If the prelude is this good, I can’t wait to see what happens in the main arc.
Preview pages show Aric giving up the armor to save a friend he long thought dead, but that’s not enough for the Vine commander who has a personal reason to want Aric dead. The cover art spoils a little by showing someone who looks a lot like Aric’s pal wearing the X-O armor standing over a beaten Aric. Hope he gets that armor back quick, that Vine invasion fleet is just around the corner (well just around the planet I guess).
Prelude to Planet Death – Part 2 (of 2):
X-O MANOWAR #10 – ON SALE FEBRUARY 20th!
Written by ROBERT VENDITTI
Art & Cover by TREVOR HAIRSINE (DEC121266)
Variant Cover by CARY NORD (DEC121267)
$3.99/Rated T+/32 pgs.