We start in with a one-page overview of Aric’s story from his Visigoth days to the modern era where he wears the X-O armor. From there the story revisits the time when Aric was just an innocent boy on the run from the Roman legions. In a poignant moment, young Aric learns from his mother what home could mean. And in a frightening moment, he realizes that his home could easily be lost.
Amy Chu’s take on X-O comes next as the narrative jumps to the future. Colonel Capshaw, aboard the G.A.T.E. command vessel, deals with a powerful and dangerous prisoner.
Jody Houser then takes over with a story about Vine Commander Trill meeting with the Hybrids planted on Earth by the alien species.
And the final selection from the annual preps readers for issue 47’s story arch that will lead into the book’s 50th issue.
Be forewarned: there will be no sightings of the X-O armor in this comic. Since this is an annual, it is an issue designed to provide valuable insight into the periphery of the character. We get to know why Aric has such a devotion to protecting his home—wherever that may be. In addition, we also have some entertaining short stories that break open existing characters. For instance, Amy Chu’s story on Colonel Capshaw has implications that will make Capshaw a prominent figure in upcoming issues. My only regret is that the story line feels to overdone, and that feeling is a rarity when reading any X-O stories.
As it stands, readers of X-O will enjoy the supplemental material. Overall, the storytelling succeeds as far as an annual issue goes. Although I’m not a huge fan of the Adam Gorham artwork in “Taking A Meeting,” the story does come across clear and well illustrated.
Please note that this annual is not a good jumping on point for those unfamiliar with the titular hero. Yes, a summary at the start will explain the character, but an unfamiliarity will otherwise make it difficult to understand the rest.
Overall, this annual does everything a good annual should.
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X-O Manowar Annual 2016 #1 Writers: Robert Venditti, Amy Chu, and Jody Houser Artist: JG Jones, Pere Perez, Mike McKone, Adam Gorham, Roberto De La Torre Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $5.99 Release Date: 5/18/16 Format: One-Shot; Print/Digital