Reading the Valiant press release on this one it says that it’s “a jumping on point for new readers”. Sure, I guess it is, in that nothing story related happens and nothing story related is referred to. In that sense it definitely is a jumping on point because it provides a blank space to insert yourself in. A thick “Story Thus Far…” brings us pretty up to speed with what’s happening but nothing in the main story refers to those events. The whole thing left me with an overwhelming sense of “meh”. The story is mostly flashback which can be an effective story device but there’s really nothing here to hook new readers. After the flashback is concluded we flash to the suits home planet where bug people do bug people things, but that doesn’t mean anything to me. I feel that instead of a jumping on point for new readers this is instead a breather for established readers between major story arcs. It’s important to have those to give your audience time to process a major story arcs events before launching them into the next major story. Something to cleanse the pallet if I were to mix a metaphor. But a jumping on point it does not make unless you use it to rehash some things while building towards some other things. I don’t feel invested in the past story arc after reading this and I’m not all that interested in its future. As a solidly written issue in semi-respected series it may succeed but as a springboard for new people into future stories it fails.
I also read Goon #50 this week and it too is the start of a new story arc but where that succeeds in providing a rest and making me interested in becoming a regular reader this does not. I’m not really flung into the world, I’m not really presented with a premise or characters in a way that makes want to dig into the past while looking to the future. I’m not introduced to long standing world concepts nor do I learn anything about anyone or anything.
The flashback story is about Aric (the titular X-O Manowar) back in olden times with his former wife. The only thing I really get from the flashback is that he had ambitions to conquer. I don’t really know why he wants to conquer or what motivates him to conquer. Just that that’s what he wants, he’s decent with a sword and has some kind of royal blood in him. What this means about anything is unknown to me.
I’m sure all of this is apparent to long time readers of the book. I get that feeling from this, unlike other things I’ve read this week, I can read this and understand that there’s something here that I’m not “getting” and that it’s part of a decent larger narrative. I can guess that it’s decent because what’s here is well written and well-drawn, it has all the signs of something well done. It’s just not for me and I don’t think it’s enough to draw in somebody that isn’t already a fan. If you’re a fan and you know what’s going you’ll probably buy the book anyway. If you’re a neophyte, like me, then find something else that will draw you in more.
Writer: Robert Venditti Artist: Rafa Sandoval Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/4/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital