X-O Manowar has taken fans across the universe, but recently focused on Aric of Dacia’s adventures on Earth. Still, we know very little of Aric’s past, aside from glimpses in flashbacks. This week X-O Manowar #0 arrived to flesh out Aric’s backstory, as we see how he fared as a young Visigoth warrior in Thrace. As always, I had high hopes for this issue, which is one of my favorites monthly comics.
Aric of Dacia was not always the tough, daring warrior he has developed into. As a young man, Aric and his best friend Gafti spent time skewering wounded Roman soldiers after a battle, as practice for their turn as front line warriors. However, Aric soon learns that his mother has prevented him from joining the ranks of the Visigoth military, unsurprisingly considering his aversion to bloodshed. What will happen, however, when Aric and Gafti enter battle together for the first time?
X-O Manowar #0 continues the rich storyelling for which the series is renowned. Writer Robert Venditti expertly fleshes out Aric’s youth; there’s a lot of meat to this tale, especially as we’ve seen very little of Aric’s life in the 5th century, aside from the first issue of the series and a few flashbacks. I really enjoyed seeing this take on a less experienced Aric, acknowledging he had to overcome trials in order to forge himself into a strong soldier capable of leading a nation. The character work and dialogue is great too, and I especially loved seeing more about Aric’s parents. My only regret is that the entire issue is not in the past; there’s a section at the end set in the present day which I feel was for the benefit of both new readers and to set the stage for the upcoming “Armorines” arc, but I really would’ve enjoyed seeing more pages set in the past.
Artistically, X-O Manowar is a visual feast. Clay Mann, now an exclusive Valiant artist, provides his first work for the company in this issue and he does not disappoint. Mann gives us a visceral look into the battlefields of the year 391 A.D. while also layering detail and precision on the quieter, but perhaps more important, scenes of the Visigoth camp. While above I did complain about the sections set in the modern era, they did include two absolutely epic scenes which took my breath away. Colorist Romulo Fajardo, inker Seth Mann, and letterer Dave Sharpe also provide some solid work that holds the comic together and cannot be overlooked.
X-O Manowar is Valiant’s flagship title, and as such greatest scrutiny is placed upon this comic compared to their other offerings. Nonetheless, this series continues to defy expectations month after month. This issue also provides a great place for new readers to join the story. You’re seriously missing out if you don’t read this comic.
-excellent exploration of Aric’s early years
-amazing artwork from Mann and company
-well-written dialogue and character work
-great jumping-on point for new readers
-section in the present day feels somewhat out of place
Brett Simon is a twenty-four year old comic enthusiast. He’s pretty sure this comic proves Roman Legionnaires invented and abused ‘roids.
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