By Dustin Cabeal
It’s fair to say that in this new volume of X-O Manowar, Aric gives zero fucks. His fucks are in the red so much that the “fucks” bank might be foreclosing on his ass. Don’t misunderstand Aric’s lack of giving of fuck as a negative point on this comic. Instead, it's rather refreshing and amazing.
Robert Venditti’s run on X-O Manowar is honestly one of the best fifty issues from one writer on a character that I can think of in the past five years or more. He single-handedly brought Valiant back into the limelight and made Aric an incredible character. Outside of Matt Kindt, I don’t think another writer has done more for a character at Valiant.
At this point, Matt Kindt had very big shoes to fill. Venditti had written fifty solid issues of X-O and Kindt couldn’t just jump on and continue the course. That would be too noticeable and frankly terrible. No one wants to be the guy that follows a great run of an ongoing series, and so Valiant relaunched the series with a new #1 and a different direction.
Aric is on Gorin, another alien world that’s dominated by war. He’s just a simple farmer here, though, with his long golden locks, his awesome man beard and rip diesel body chalked full of symmetrical scars. He’s got a new lady in his life… she has a tail apparently… he’s into that kind of thing… tail things in bed. Hey, don’t knock it until you can try it. A couple of things are very clear about Aric, he’s older than last we saw him, and he’s bitter as hell, which gives him a lot of character growth in just one issue.
Eventually, he’s drafted into the war, but not before the reveal of him missing his hand and being super pissed at the X-O suit. There’s a great scene in which he hammers off a ring from the suit which makes the suit talk to him. Apparently, I have a lot to catch up on with the previous series, or there’s some to be revealed in future issues. The suit is like, “Hey, Aric… I would have just made you a damn ring; you didn’t have to be a brute.” Aric’s response is one of hate and disgust. Almost as if he blames the suit for his life, but what’s great is that you can almost see Aric choking back tears because he’s that upset. Soon after he’s pushed to the frontlines of a shitty war, forced recruits aren’t given weapons and expected to die to clear a path for the real soldiers. It’s like a perpetual D-Day scene, but Aric, without the help of the suit, rocks the shit out of this war.
This first issue is heavy on the action and light on the talk. Aric is clearly a changed man and Kindt puts that on full display here with his attitude and anger. This volume of X-O Manowar feels like a very different series compared to the last one, but the character still bears a resemblance to the one that Venditti crafted. He’s still a beast of war, a lover and born leader. There are more reasons why he’s the same feeling, but it’s hard to pinpoint and say, “This is it.” It’s just a very clear vibe that Kindt taps into with his writing.
Where the hell has Tomás Giorello been all my life? This book is gorgeous from beginning to end. Giorello is clearly tapping into some Morpheus inspired design here. The aliens are extremely different than what’s been in Valiant recently and in comics in general. I just don’t even know what else to say about the art it’s just that beautiful. I read the book three times, but the second and third time was just looking at the art. Visually, Giorello tells the story every bit as much as Kindt. I am not looking forward to the inevitable break that Giorello will need to take to keep up with the series, but for now, I will just relish every panel of this series.
The big question is if you’ve never read X-O Manowar can you truly pick this up and start the series? Absolutely, it tips its hat to what has come before this series, but in the end, it’s blazing its own trail. That and Kindt is probably the best storyteller in comics currently, so I highly doubt he’s not going to address things brought up in this issue. When this issue hits stands, it’s going to be Valiant biggest and best title instantly knocking out Ninjak and the Eternal Warrior. Give a fuck and pick this book up.
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Tomás Giorello
Colorist: Diego Rodriguez
Publisher: Valiant Comics