Or – “It’s Only A Matter Of Time Until The Ravage 2099 Relaunch…”

While I was a fan of Valiant Comics back in, as they say, “The Day,” I was more into Shadowman and Harbinger than to X-O.  In retrospect, the adventures of Aric of Dacia were better than my initial expectations, and I have high hopes for this relaunch…

Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciler: Cary Nord
Inker: Stefano Gaudiano
Colorist: Moose Baumann
Letterer: Dave Lanphear
Editor Warren Simons
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in X-O Manowar:  It’s pretty obvious why they call them “spider aliens,” with their multi-legged jointed forms, and their technology includes various living organisms designed to form sentient protective armor.  When one of those (the dreaded Manowar class) fell into the hands of Aric of Dacia, he became one of the most feared warriors over the course of several centuries.  Of course, nearly all of that was in previous versions of the series…  Will this book bring an all-new, all-different X-O?


The issue opens with a fascinating “Previously” page, explaining the political and social aspect of life in the year 402 BC, explaining even the levels of commerce of the Visigoth and Roman legions.  I don’t know if it’s historically accurate, but it’s cool as heck, and it’s immediately followed by a huge double-page spread of Roman legions preparing to clash with a ragtag group of Visigoth warriors, which gets my attention in a very spectacular way.  King Alaric and his son Aric lead their troops into a one-sided beatdown (the Romans have artillery, after all) during which only Aric seems to have a ghost of a chance, and Cary Nord delivers some pretty impressive combat sequences.  Things go poorly for the Visigoths, their camp is overrun and their king struck down, leaving Aric and a few of his soldiers alone, and his mother and wife taken by the Romans.  I have to say that I enjoy the dialogue in the first half of the book a lot, especially in the interactions between Alaric and Aric…


Things turn, as Aric leads his few remaining men in an attack on a Roman transport (or at least what they believe is a Roman transport) and find something worse than even the Romans:  Spider Aliens.  There’s a lot more depth and background in the Spider aliens plot than I remember from the first time we met X-O, and one chilling new wrinkle in their plans that freaks me out quite a bit.  Shanhara (the actual name of the living X-O armor) appears, and there is more to “her” introduction as well, leaving us with a cliffhanger of Aric trapped on board an alien ship, just starting to realize the potential inherent in the aliens weapon.  It’s kind of a teast that we don’t get to see him put on the armor in the first issue, but instead of feeling like compression for the sake of the inevitable trade, it feels natural to the progression of the tale, and doesn’t leave me angry (especially given the rather gory sequence that introduces us to the Shanhara.  Joe Bob Briggs would be proud.)


All in all, this is successful both as a single issue and as a FIRST issue, clearly establishing our setting, our main character, the complications and pushing him towards his destiny as Iron Conan.  The book doesn’t rely on nostalgia or knowledge of previous takes on X-O Manowar, which I appreciate greatly, and enough attention is given to Aric the barbarian for us to care about him BEFORE his armors up.  X-O Manowar #1 is nicely handled, both in terms of art and writing, and sets the stage for a new Valiant Universe, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  Can Unity 2013 be far behind?

Rating: ★★★★☆



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. It has been since Valiant was in business since I stepped into a comic book shop, and it took a recent.visit to one in Chicago that brought me right back to why I left this hobby. I ask the guy behind the counter, I need to do a pull list. I say I want to buy anything from Valiant Comics, anything they come out with I will pay, price doesnt matter. His response is we dont do pull lists, unless you have 10 or more comics pulled a month. Im still going back to get a copy, Valiant was the best in their day, and I will definetely come back to.this hobby for this reason alone.

    • Space Cadet Juan on

      Surely there must be more than one comic store in Chicago. Why go back to the one that told you he doesn’t want your business?

  2. Kevin Mack on

    Now my next question is when are they bringing back the foil covers, the 90’s have returned to comics, so its only a matter of time before a return to that horrible horrible idea.

  3. Jeremy Patterson on

    It seems that Valiant 2012 is more of an ‘Ultimate Universe’ retelling of the original (1991-96) Valiant Universe than an actual reboot (like VH2 was).


  4. So far I was less-than-impressed by the X-O Manowar #1 reboot. The Aric in this story is not a unique and special character as the original Aric. He’s a guy who seems a bit too impulsive, who doesn’t seem to know much about military strategy. He just fights and fights for the good of his tribe but without forethought or strategy. I admire his bravery and persistence but that’s all so far. Maybe other traits will show up with time or maybe the way he uses the armor will bring up some unique traits. But that really should be apparent from the first issue. It also sucks that in this big 30-pager he doesn’t get to wear the armor yet. I’m intrigued enough to see what happens when he finally puts it on… and I’m hoping that it’ll be good. But right now this title does not come close to the original.

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