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What they say: The all-new Valiant Universe kicks off with a landmark, oversized # 1 issue of X-O Manowar by New York Times-bestselling author Robert Venditti (The Surrogates, The Homeland Directive) and Eisner Award-winning artist Cary Nord (Conan)! Born into battle, Aric of Dacia — heir to the throne of the Visigoth people — has never known peace. After a brutal encounter with a mysterious enemy known as The Vine leaves him a prisoner on an alien world, the only hope Aric has of returning to his family and saving them from slavery is to seize a weapon of incalculable destruction and become X-O Manowar!
What I say: For over 20 years I have been a huge fan of the Valiant Universe. I honestly feel if corporate greed had not taken over early on they would be the #1 publisher today. But fate has stepped in and brought the great characters back to us staring with X-O Manowar.
Starting in 402 A.D. Vizigoth Aric fights the Romans along with his uncles army in Northern Italy. After facing heavy losses the army retreats. An alien ship lands near their camp and Aric assumes that this is the Romans coming to finish them. As Aric leads a raid on the ship, several aliens sneak into the camp and replace several human babies with alien copies. Aric and the others are captured and taken into space. During an escape attempt Aric sees the X-O armor and plots to steal it. The issue ends as Aric plots his revenge and escape.
Written by novelist Robert Venditti, the issue moves fast and sets up a lot of potentially interesting storylines. The alien babies will obviously come into play in all the titles and we can see the Universe building all ready taking place. The issue is very well written as we all ready understand Arics motivations and also we see the long game developing. The fact that Aric was not dumped right into the armor was a wise choice as we learn more about Aric, the aliens, and the armor itself, including a nasty little twist with the armor.
Art chores are handled by the lovely and talented Cary Nord who I have followed since his day doing Daredevil and Conan. As always he does a fine job of mixing the tech and the barbarian like Visigoths and the opening battle scene is quite honestly stunning. The inks by Stefano Gaudiano and colors by Moose Baumann perfectly compliment Nords moody artwork.
The entire package is very compelling and while the origin is similar to X-Os previous one, there are enough differences and twists to keep the whole affair fresh and enjoyable. This is a commanding start to the new Valiant Universe and I absolutely cannot wait to see more!
X-O Manowar #1: 9/10
X-O Manowar will be available at finer comic book shops this Wednesday, 05/02/12. And a FCBD special hits the following Saturday. Be sure to check them out!