The Summer of Valiant may almost be over, but that sure hasn’t stop the red hot company from putting out some amazing books.
Things continue to heat up this month over in the company’s flagship title, X-O Manowar. For the past two issues, Robert Venditti and Cary Nord have put Aric of Dacia, the 4th Century Goth kidnapped by aliens through the proverbial wringer. Taken from his wife, family and world, turned into a slave, even losing his hand as punishment for striking a guard. He’s been starved, and treated like an animal. But Aric has waited, biding his time until the time was right to try to strike back.
This is where the latest issue begins, as Aric leads a slave revolt. Thinking they are making for the alien armory, he finds “Sacred Armor of Shanhana”, the most powerful weapon of he Vine, the race of alien spiders who first came to Earth in the 4th Century to gather slave labor, and at the same time, introduce something sinister to the human gene pool.
This issue is all out carnage fans of classic sword and sorcery/fantasy and sci-fi will all find something to enjoy here as the 4th century Barbarian Goth takes control of the most advanced weapon of the alien monsters who have been keeping him captured for so long. The armor is so revered by the aliens, it is worshiped by the priests, and reviled by the warrior class of the Vine. It seems that it has killed every solider who had tried to take control of it and claim it is their own.
This issue is about payback, and Aric has plenty of payback to give. Venditti shows the perseverance of the human spirit in Aric, a man who only want to get home to his love, and is willing to fight anyone who gets in his way, and now with the armor, he has the means to finally get his revenge, and maybe the means to get back to Earth.
Of course not everything goes as he expects.
Venditti has been very methodical, and deliberate in his pacing, not rushing his story to get Aric and the X-O armor back to Earth. Valiant is to be commended in letting the writers of all of their books to take the time to build their new universe properly, and establishing themselves before starting to bring the pieces together. This also allows new readers, who may not have ever read a Valiant Comic from the 90s, to not feel like they are missing some big back story. These are all new stories, being told from the ground up.
I don’t know what else I can say about Cary Nord’s work. Brutal, but fantastic, as advanced alien technology exists side by side with Iron Age warriors. The pages drip with the blood of battle, both human and alien, but at no point does it ever feel hokey or cartoony.
Valiant has placed themselves in a fantastic position, keeping their titles limited in number, allowing them all to get the attention they deserve, and not be lost among a ton of titles, all competing with each other for eyes and dollars. With only 4 books on the schedule (the three already released, X-O, Harbinger, and Bloodshot, along with next month’s Archer & Armstrong) they can keep the quality sky high.
Make mine Valiant!
My Score……………… 9/10