My rules for annuals, zero issues, or one shots is that the comic needs to either alter the characters in some substantial way or provide a deeper look into the life of the character not available in the monthly run. X-O Manowar zero successfully meets and exceeds both those standards.
After a battle with Roman invaders, Aric and Gafti dispose of the wounded Romans. Aric takes a moment to retch at the thought of the brutality of slaying the wounded men. This simple act shows the Visigoth youth to be more than some weapon wielding brute; he has genuine reluctance for war. Such explication through visual means instead of info dumping on the reader shows, in the opening panels, why Robert Venditti is one of the most accomplished comic book writers in the industry today. Aric is in the competent hands of an outstanding writer who has brought depth to book.
The story moves on with a retelling of Aric’s battle as he fought alongside his father. The thrill of the scene would make this an engrossing tale of Visigoths. Yes, this flashback entertains better than any historical comics—and it’s about futuristic, alien armor!
We then get some glimpses of Aric in the present working with M.E.R.O. to keep the Earth free of hostile alien invaders. As a closing, Aric looks upon his displaced Visigtoths as the children play a mock battle on the hillside at sunset. The bookend to the tale reflects the children’s freedom from war courtesy of their king and protector. None of these kids will endure retching their guts because of Aric’s sacrifices.
With such an in-depth window into this character, one wonders what the Armorines will bring in terms of conflict. No matter what tragedies will befall Aric, we readers are assured of a hell of a story told by a hell of a creative team.
Writer: Robert Venditti Artist: Clay Mann Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/8/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital