I got home from work this past Friday to discover a pleasant surprise waiting for me in my inbox, an advanced copy of X-O Manowar #1, the first book to be released in Valiant Entertainment’s relaunch of the venerable 1990’s comics line.
I made certain I had everything done. All my work was finished; the dishes were washed and put away. The cat was fed. I didn’t want anything to interrupt me. I had been waiting a long time for this, and I was ready, ready to reintroduce myself to an old friend I hadn’t seen in over a decade.
Of course a lot can change in 10 years, and my expectations were high. How could they not be? Was it going to live up to them or was I about to be disappointed?
X-O Manowar, Valiant’s signature character, being brought back by New York Times best selling writer Robert Venditti and Conan the Barbarian artist Cary Nord, I can hardly believe it is finally here. As the file opened and the first cover image appeared on my screen, I was a bit anxious. Can it live up to my expectations?
I scroll down to file, stopping to admire each of the 4 covers included in the PDF file. I had already seen them all, and knew they all look great (I particularly like David Aja’s striking take.) But now I was ready, ready to see what the Valiant had in store for us.
Venditti gives us a good look at Aric of Dacia, the man, and the world that created him. A Visigoth warrior fighting Romans in the 5th Century. Aric is a leader of men, armed with a fine sword, and a strong will, but he doesn’t always think through his actions before charging head long into battle. He doesn’t ever give up, even when facing the overwhelming forces of the Roman Legion, or those even more powerful forces he stumbles upon while trying to rescue his kidnapped family, an alien force known only as the Vine. The Vine is an update of the original series Spider-Aliens. They clearly have plans for the human race, but we are only given a glimpse of what they are up to. The book is oversized at 40 pages, but story moves along quickly. As I reached the last page, I found myself already wanting more, and cursing the calendar for making me have until next month for the next issue.
Nord’s pencils are amazing. Each page is filled with amazing detail, from the well worn features of each man on the open field, the Roman Legions in their battle formations, the individual detail on each Visigoth’s Skildus (shield). His amazing work is only improved on by the work of the rest of the art team, inker like Stefano Gaudino, and colorist Moose Baumann. The trio are very much a team. The pencils, colors and lines are all crisp and clean, well defined and rich, giving the book a fantastic look and feel. When the X-O armor does make its appearance, late in the book, it stands out, clearly alien, maybe even to the aliens who seem to worship it.
If you never read a Valiant comic before, don’t worry. This is a brand new world that we are all seeing for the first time. The level of detail provided is a testament to Venditti and Nord. They clearly researched the lives of 5th Century Visigoths. Making these men act and look as much like the barbarians who really lived on the edges of the Roman Empire, sometimes fighting for the Empire, sometimes fighting with them, all in search of a land they could call their own. If you are a fan of the original (as I clearly am), there is plenty here to make you happy too. It is not throwing out everything you knew and loved about the original series, but re-imagining it, and refining it for today’s more discerning readers.
From the opening page, a clever infographic, giving you all of you who didn’t research the Roman Empire recently the information about the world of Visigoths, to final page, this book delivered on all my expectations.
If this is what we can continue to expect from the Summer of Valiant, we can expect to be very happy comic book readers.
My score ………………… 9.5 of 10!
X-O MANOWAR #1 – ON SALE MAY 2nd!