X-O Manowar was originally released in February 1992 and quickly became a fan favorite. Aric of Dacia is a fascinating hero. He was a Visigoth, raised under the oppressive reign of the Roman Empire in 5th century Europe. After spending his life in a series of never ending campaigns against the Romans he was abducted by aliens. On the face of it this seems like a cheesy premise, but as a new reader, what I see in the relaunch of X-O is quite compelling. In his previous iteration, evolving throughout the 90’s, he fought his way out of slavery, acquired the X-O armor (a powerful artifact that was prized by his alien captors) and escaped back to earth. Now in the modern era, he has to defend the earth from Vine invasion (as the aliens come back to reclaim their armor). I won’t go into the various twists and turns that ensue, for that you will have to check out the back issues, but suffice to say his life never finds the peace he craves.
With 2017’s title relaunch, he is stranded on a hostile world. He has found peace, as a farmer, toiling to work his farm. The armor that allowed him to protect earth and decimate armies is nowhere to be seen. When war comes calling, he has no interest in joining either side. But there is no choice here. He is thrust into the midst of it, a disposable soldier, not expected to live through the first onslaught. The action is brutal, and despite Aric’s apathy toward the war, his experience and his instinct kicks in. Even without the armor he is a formidable warrior, and this first issue pulls no punches in showing what he is willing to do to survive.
The artwork is really well done, moody and gritty, quite visceral in parts but never really gratuitous. Aric for me reads a little like a combination of Conan the Barbarian and Russel Crowe’s character in Gladiator. Despite the sci-fi setting he is still primitive and powerful, though quick thinking, not just a bundle of muscle. He obviously has a long history of conflict, but now he wants to settle down and farm in peace. But that isn’t how the story goes for him. Born into war, it will follow him wherever he goes. Even though I had never read any of the previous issues, there was enough here to hint at his history, and his pain. The plot is thick enough to draw you in, but not encumbered by his past. This is a great setup to a potentially epic space saga.
X-O MANOWAR (2017) #1 launches on March 22 for $3.99
Written by MATT KINDT, Art by TOMÁS GIORELLO
[Guest post by Marc Nutton]