In the previous 3 issues of X-O Manowar, we have seen Aric go from simple farmer to military captain in a very short amount of time. Despite trying to live a quiet life on the planet Gorin, he has been forcefully called into duty into a war between the Cadmiums and the Azure. In the previous issue, Aric and his team -all deemed to be expendable- were successful in their mission, but were unable to capture the Cadmium president due to the shortsighted thinking of the previous Captain.
This issue starts with Aric pleading with the king of the Burnt tribe to allow Aric’s team to pass safely through his land, on through the Helio fields, to finally capture the Cadmium president. In exchange, Aric promises the ancestral Helio Fields will be returned to the Burnt. The rest of the story follows Aric and his team attempting to capture the president with twists and threads also being setup for future issues. We also get to see Aric in an official command position. It is written as “GENERAL: Part One”, but feels like more of a wrap-up of the Soldier storyline.
I’ve had a passing interest in X-O in its various series and incarnations, but this series has grabbed me from the start. Aric is written as a once-in-a-lifetime warrior that left Earth and seeks to find peace and avoid war. However, he is such a good warrior and tragic figure, it feels like war will always find him. His character is given depth, due to this internal struggle. It’s a theme that has been told before, but it’s captured so well and feels fresh in these pages. The beauty of this series has been the marriage of beautiful art and superb writing combined with masterful pacing to tell this story. I feel that most creators wouldn’t have the patience to keep Aric out of his armor for the length of time we’ve seen in this series, but this restraint has been made into a major plot point and adds intrigue. For the most part, Aric has to rely on his wits and natural abilities. Of course, we’ve also had ample action and battles along the way.
The art continues to be absolutely gorgeous. Doug Braithwaite takes over the art duties in this issue but continues the style and standard set by Tomás Giorello. The art has a beautiful painterly style with strong detail. Doug’s style feels a little looser in comparison, but it’s still top-notch work.
I give this issue 4 out 5 stars. It doesn’t quite have the sheer momentum of the previous issues because Aric and his team are out of immediate danger fairly early and it tries to be both a wrap-up and beginning of a new storyline. However, it is still a well-executed issue. This is one of those series that is a joyous reminder of why comic books are such a captivating medium for storytelling. It has been mentioned before, but it bears repeating that this is also an excellent series for new readers to jump on to. If you haven’t yet jumped onto this X-O series, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Written by Matt Kindt
Art by Doug Braithwaite
Published by Valiant Entertainment