We continue our coverage of independent publisher Valiant Comics relaunching and rejuvenating it’s product line with another ’90s favorite superhero X-O Manowar for the last August installment of the “Summer of Valiant“. In issue 4 on stands today, a Visigoth years away from his time and encapsulated by an alien armor is thrust into modern day Italy!
X-O Manowar was the first book to be printed under the banner of the Valiant Universe in 2012. The update is written by New York Times-bestselling author Robert Venditti (The Surrogates) and drawn by Cary Nord (Conan). The book shipped with a creepy QR voice variant cover in May and stoked the fires for an upcoming relaunch of Archer & Armstrong, Harbinger, Bloodshot and coming soon in issue 5 is the return of Ninjak.
These aren’t everyone’s mightiest or favorite heroes, but by baiting the collectors market with variant covers and by targeting the over thirty comic market for a fresh take on ’90s comics properties, something just feels right about what Valiant is doing.
The new and younger readers will catch on by following their favorite creators over to these books because everyone loves a new number one issue.
The original series was written and the character created by Valiant’s founding member and editor-in-chief Jim Shooter with artists Bob Layton (Iron Man, The Hulk) and Jon Hartz in 1992. A Visigoth under Roman rule in the 5th Century A.D. fought against alien demons while trying to protect his lover. Aric Dacia is subdued by the aliens and abducted. Aric is taken as a slave on the ship but eventually fights his way to the X-O Armor and returns to Earth. In the manner of such timey-wimey tales, 1600 years have passed when Aric returns to Earth.
The 2012 version is much the same origin, but this time the aliens have a name, “The Vine”. Robert Venditti weaves more of a warrior’s tale into Aric’s journey. This time while attempting to escape from The Vine, he happens upon the X-O armor. Our new X-O armor is sentient and chooses Aric as the worthy host.
With an arsenal of alien tech strapped to his body, Aric escapes the ship and flies to Rome. A dogfight with an F-15 pilot snaps him into the modern age.
Fans of Rome, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, and the Iron Man movies will be sure to get a boost from this book. This is a man out of time with an all-powerful armor. It is too soon in the arc to see if this righteous man will use this power for good. At the moment, Aric is just confused. What we are able to suss out is that the arthropod Vine race is not happy with this little slave Visigoth making off with their revered tech. They know not why the armor chose a human over the hundreds of Vines killed by donning the suit.
And unlike Stark Tech, Aric is instinctively controlling a suit with limitless unknown power. What if his luck runs out and the suit kills him as well?
The Surrogates was top notch sci-fi fun and a great movie too. Venditti has captured all of the fun of a new series launch with X-O Manowar and ramped up the action in each issue. The Roman Empire scenes, the way-out gardens in The Vine’s ship and secret societies combine to form a rich fabric of the new Valiant Universe.
Eisner Award winning Cary Nord (Conan the Barbarian with Kurt Busiek) is on for the first four issues. Cary was the first artist to sign an exclusive deal with Valiant. His expressions, imaginative creatures and fight scenes make for a fun read.
Huge compliments to the first shot of Aric in the suit in issue 2. It is moments like this that make me excited to read comics every week.
Cary’s strong points are his storytelling, animals and backgrounds. Conan comics are a true test of an artist’s abilities.
With Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca leaving their run on Invincible Iron Man after Armor Wars III, I think I’ll leave Tony just as I left Steve when Ed Brubaker left Captain America. The good news is that I will have a new armored hero to take Iron Man’s spot in my monthly stack with X-O Manowar vs. The Vine.
BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE! CHECK OUT LEAGUEPODCAST.COM — BOSTON’S COMIC BOOK AND POP CULTURE PODCAST — “Thinking about Comics since 2009″!
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