2012 marked a renaissance for Valiant Entertainment. In many ways, the company’s relaunch is similar to DC’s New 52; both are hard reboots of their respective comic book universes, both included previously established characters in a brand new light, and both have found immense commercial and critical success.
18 issues in, Valiant’s flagship title, X-O Manowar is moving into new territory by pitting Aric of Dacia against the rest of the world. But is it good?
X-O Manowar #18 (Valiant)
X-O Manowar feels like Robert Venditti’s pet project. Sure, he also writes Green Lantern, one of the highest-profile comic books currently being published, but Manowar is a much more fun read due to the incredible character development and intricate plot that neatly connects to the rest of the Valiant universe.
At the beginning of this series, Aric was just one of the Visigoths abducted by aliens along with thousands upon thousands of other beings from across the cosmos. When he became the host for the X-O Manowar armor he didn’t become a different person, just a more focused and determined one.
Unfortunately that focus and determination are concentrated almost exclusively into Aric’s ancient morality and sense of duty. This drive served to Aric’s advantage when he stood up against the Vine and brought their society to ruin, but his vigor and stubbornness are less appreciated on Earth where it’s 2013 and modern society hasn’t observed Visigoth territorial demarcations for over 2000 years.
X-O Manowar #18 makes it clear that Aric is a man without direction. He’s a warrior prince who felt comfortable in battle against the Vine. But he’s never been a king, and his “people” are actually the descendants of the Visigoths who were abducted from Rome because of outer space and time differentials and a lot more science than I actually understand. Aric is leading a group of people who have no connection to the ways and culture he represents. He’s set up shop in the middle of Romania where Dacia once was and expects the rest of the world to accept his claim.
The worst part is that he doesn’t seem to want to change. Aric would rather fight defending what isn’t logical and what can’t be taken based off archaic notions lost through history and unacknowledged by a more thickly-bureaucratic international theater. You won’t find this kind of introspective cultural observation in Superman or Thunderbolts.
- Great characters
- Fun storyline involving aspects of the old and the new.
- Observations on human nature through time.
- Steep learning curve for new readers.
Is it Good?
It’s fantastic. Robert Venditti seamlessly blends the old and the new into a story that pits ancient ideology against modern intricacies. X-O Manowar is one of the best ongoing series currently running and this issue reaffirms that fact.