ADVANCED REVIEW: X-O Manowar #1

“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.” -Gen. George S. Patton

My granddad was a P.O.W. during WWII. He was M.I.A. for eleven months. Most of that time he was held in a prison camp for Allied officers; until the camp was bombed and the wall of my granddad’s cell was blown apart. He and six other men escaped that night. My Granddad was wounded in the leg during the bombing, the other escaping soldier’s dragged him to freedom, patched him up, kept a lookout for him as he healed. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the strength and courage of those other men. They thought of their fellow soldier before themselves. Those men are true Heroes, every last one.

My Granddad said that he could never really explain the war to me, or anyone really. His thought was that:

“Unless you were there, then there is no way to truly grasp the emotion and terror of battle.”

Take that quote and build it into a comic. I imagine that it would look something like this premiere issue of X-O Manowar.

Aric, better known to the comic reading world as X-O Manowar, has seen his own share of battles and battlefields. He has grown weary of blood and death. Instead he seeks the comfort of the quite fields where he harvests his crops, the loving embrace of his woman, and the satisfaction of hard work. A man who once only knew bloodlust has now tempered himself and grown wisdom where there was once only rage.

Peace, like everything else, is not built to last. Even living on another planet, far from the orbit of Earth, Aric has found the beating drums of war calling to him. His peaceful life is upended as a passing army forcefully enlists him. War has a way of finding the right warrior, no matter how much peace has passed. So once again, Aric finds himself marching towards the hell of battle.

Matt Kindt has laid down the first installment of a tale that has all the trappings of a stunning epic. Aric is the atypical reluctant hero that is once again forced into service. Kindt even pulls from the character’s origin, by beginning this series not with a flashy new space suit, but instead showcasing the man within the armor. We only get a quick peek at the armor on the last page, but Kindt and company are stating right up front that this is a series about the journey of the man, not the machine.

The bulk of the issue is devoted to walking the reader through the various stages of the upcoming battle. Aric and the other men that have been forcefully enlisted are not even given weapons. They are to be used as human shields, but thanks to a past that is soaked in bloodshed and experience of the battlefield, Aric crosses over the deadly terrain and establishes a foothold for the invading army.

As good as Kindt is, it’s really Tomas Giorello that takes us into the battle. His artwork is one stunning page after another. His style falls somewhere between Andy Kubert and Cory Nord, as the pencils have a softness to them that gives the final colored page an almost watercolor effect. It’s this style that brings the broad brutality of war into sharp contrast later in the book.

The creative team has given us a whole new insight into the mind of Aric. He has been and always will be a born warrior. To know that the X-O armor is in the possession of such a noble yet driven individual is frightening. The world is at peace because he wills it so, not the other way around. With the armor at his disposal he becomes unstoppable; and it’s there that the true fear resides.

The debate is no longer about the threat of total power, but just how much restraint and resolve can one man have when wielding the ultimate weapon. Once a choice is made to again don the armor, how long before Aric is corrupted by that same need for control and strength? The old saying goes, “Absolute Power corrupts absolutely”.

Valiant has found a new epic in the making. This tale, when it’s all said and done, could rival that of Conan. A common man with uncommon strength rises to power and glory in his pursuit of what is right and just.

This comic is the perfect primer for new fans. It’s easy to follow; the art and story are elegant at times and complex at others. There is no better time to start reading this title, or the works of this company, than right now.

Final Grade: 5 out of 5 stars.

X-O MANOWAR (2017) #1
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by TOMÁS GIORELLO
Cover A by LEWIS LAROSA (JAN172113)
Cover B by KENNETH ROCAFORT (JAN172114)
Interlocking Variant Cover by MICO SUAYAN (JAN172116)
X-O Manowar Icon Variant by J.G. JONES (JAN172117)
Brushed Metal Variant Cover by MONIKA PALOSZ (JAN172117)

IN SHOPS ON 3/22/2017

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