It’s funny how first impressions have lasting influences. I remember the first of X-O Manowar I read was meant as a ‘jumping on’ point between arcs and how I not only criticized that issue, but used that experience to criticize and compliment other books at a similar place in their story arcs. Reading this excellent special I still go back to that place and think to myself “Man, this would have been a much better story to use than the one they did use.” After all this time that where my mind goes for X-O, everything gets compared to that first issue I read and how it didn’t quite live up to the rest of the series. There is a great series recap in this. It did a lot for me even though most of it is stuff I already know and have already seen. Anyone who is still on the fence about X-O, this is the issue to start with if you don’t (even though you should) want to buy all the issues leading up to this. It gives a pretty comprehensive history of the Armor that Aric, the titular Manowar, wears as well as the Armor’s history with The Vine, the guardians of the Armor up until Aric stole it. It’s a succinct and effective tale punctuated with great writing and superb art.
Not much to say here really. I enjoyed this even though it’s 75% well-worn road, but I could see how, if you are already familiar with the story, you wouldn’t really extract all that much from it. That would be my only criticism is that your mileage may vary depending on your own familiarity with the books lore. I could easily see, if somebody was very invested into the lore, how they might feel ripped off reading 23 pages of which only roughly 5 were things you didn’t know even if the remainder was told from a different viewpoint that it was originally. I, personally, would recommend this for old and new readers a like even if they could have bolstered the page count with a B-Story or an art gallery.