Tag Archives: bob layton

Underrated: X-O Manowar: Birth

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: X-O Manowar: Birth



I’ve been a Valiant fan for nearly four years now, and while I have dabbled in the original comics (affectionately known as VH1 among the fanbase), it has primarily been the modern era, comics from 2012 to the present day (known as the VEI era), that has been my reading and collecting focus. But a couple of weeks ago, the owner of my LCS returned from visiting one of his other stores with a hardcover for me because he thought I’d be interested. That hardcover reprinted the first six issues of the original X-O Manowar run from 1992, the #o issue and an original story featuring the origin of one the early issues villains. This collection represents the earliest comics from Valiant I’ve yet read, and although I prefer the 2012 origin for X-O Manowar, I can understand why Valiant was able to hook fans in with the original X-O stories. I’m looking at this book today from the perspective of somebody who has read a lot, or even some, of the modern X-O Manowar comics before ever touching the original VH1 run, and asking whether that person would be interested in looking to the past.

If you’re at all familiar with Aric of Dacia, the X-O Manowar armour and his abduction and subsequent return to Earth then you’ll know the essence of the plot this book. The 2012 origin took a lot from these six or seven comics, and although some details were updated or modified, the the influence the original story still bears upon the modern is easy to see. Aside from Aric’s Hulk-like speech patterns that do, thankfully, begin to diminish as he learns English, the barbarian’s character still shows flashes of the man he will become when the publisher relaunched.

The Vine are replaced with the Spider-Aliens, although aside from the name there is little that distinguishes them from the first few comics in the 2012 run. Where as the Vine become one of the more interesting and complex plot points in the VEI stories, the Spider-Aliens show little of the same qualities at this point (yes, there are signs that there is more to the Vine within the first three issues of the VEI run), but then that really just makes it easier to enjoy the battle carnage as Aric tears his way through the soldiers and corporate representatives of the Spider-Aliens.

Although you can enjoy the book without any prior knowledge, for a Valiant fan of the old or new school (or both) this beautifully presented book is a must read. And most of us will seek the story out if we can, but for those not entrenched in Valiant lore, this standalone story here represents an Underrated gem from comics history.

Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.


Preview: Bob Layton’s Iron Man Artist Select

Bob Layton’s Iron Man Artist Select

David Michelinie (w) • Bob Layton (a)

Bob Layton’s two long runs on The Invincible Iron Man, alongside writer/co-plotter David Michelinie and an array of peerless pencillers, remains the series’ high-water mark for legions of fans. And now, many of the most beloved stories from both of Layton’s long stays on the book, curated by Bob himself, are collected here in deluxe, oversized fashion!

Nearly 400 pages of Iron Man classics, guest-starring Ant Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man, two two-part Doctor Doom tales, and more! Also included is a comprehensive new interview with Layton! Each copy of this special IDW Limited release is signed by Layton, numbered, and packed in a gorgeous foil-stamped slipcase!

HC • PC • $125.00 • 388 pages • 9” x 13” • ISBN: 978-1-68405-400-8

Bob Layton’s Iron Man Artist Select

Preview: Walter Simonson’s Battlestar Galactica Art Edition HC

Walter Simonson’s Battlestar Galactica Art Edition HC

writers: Walter Simonson, Roger McKenzie, Bob Layton, Steven Grant
artist | cover: Walter Simonson
FC | 104 pages | $150.00 | Teen +

Walter Simonson’s Battlestar Galactica Art Edition commemorates the master draftsman’s senses-shattering work on the Battlestar Galactica comic book series published by Marvel Comics from 1979 to 1981. Truly, the adventures of brash pilots Apollo and Starbuck were never so epic as they were under Simonson’s skillful hand, as demonstrated in this gorgeous hardcover collection. Scanned in high-resolution color and printed at original size, the Battlestar Galactica Art Edition preserves every detail of the artist’s meticulous skill and hard work, interpreted from scripts by contributing writers Roger McKenzie, Steven Grant, Bill Mantlo, Bob Layton, and Simonson himself!

Preview: Demi-God #1

Demi-God #1

Story: Ron Marz
Art: Andy Smith
Color: Michael Atiyeh
Letterer: Steve Dutro
Cover A: Andy Smith, Michael Atiyeh
Cover B: Bart Sears, Nanjan Jamberi
Retailer Incentive Cover A: Jeff Johnson, Michael Atiyeh
Retailer Incentive Cover B: Bob Layton, Michael Atiyeh

The next Ominous Universe title is here! With great power comes great… wait, how does that go again? Demi-God is a contemporary superhero tale like no other. When irresponsible slacker Jason McAndros suddenly gains the power of a god, the fourth wall isn’t the only thing he breaks! As Jason revels in his newfound might, he begins calling himself Hercules and indulging in his every whim.

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Preview: Bloodshot Salvation #7


Written & Art by JEFF LEMIRE
Lettering by SIMON BOWLAND
Cover A by JEFF LEMIRE (JAN182007)
Cover B by RAÚL ALLÉN (JAN182008)
Cover C by RENATO GUEDES (JAN182009)
Interlocking Variant by DAVID LAFUENTE (JAN182010)
Bloodshot Icon Variant by BOB LAYTON (JAN182011)
Pre-Order Edition by RYAN BODENHEIM (JUL172248)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | VALIANT PREMIUM | On Sale MARCH 7th

Master storyteller Jeff Lemire takes the helm for the year’s most terrifying, most memorable special issue – told entirely in PITCH-BLACK DARKNESS!

Deployed into the demonic realm called Deadside in search of a cure for his ailing infant daughter, Bloodshot has lost the one sense he needs most to navigate the land of the dead: his sight. Blinded with only his four-legged ally, Bloodhound, to aid him, Ray Garrison must fight onward as one man against the darkness – even as he is beset from all sides by a horde of inhuman entities that crave only death, suffering, and slaughter…

Told in total darkness from Bloodshot’s point of view, “THE BOOK OF THE DEAD” enters uncharted territory with a seminal experiment in storytelling written and staged by Eisner Award-winning visionary Jeff Lemire (Black Hammer, Animal Man)!

Preview: Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe #1 (of 4)


Written by ELIOT RAHAL
Cover A by MICO SUAYAN (NOV172006)
Cover B by CAFU (NOV172007)
Interlocking Variant by FRANCIS PORTELA (NOV172010)
Variant Cover by BOB LAYTON (NOV172011)
Photo Cover Also Available (NOV172008)
Blank Cover Also Available (NOV172009)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale JANUARY 10th (FOC – 12/18/17)


Watch the upcoming live-action digital promotion coming soon – then jump headlong into the fight-fueled showdown of the century as acclaimed writer Eliot Rahal (The Paybacks) and red-hot artist Joe Bennett (Teen Titans, Deathstroke) reveal the full scope and adrenaline-drenched intensity of…NINJAK VS. THE VALIANT UNIVERSE!

Colin King is Ninjak, MI-6’s deadliest intelligence operative and weapons expert. When the ruthless assassin Roku exploits his greatest weakness, Ninjak will be forced to betray his closest allies. Now, on the run, he must face off against the most powerful heroes known to man for a high-octane, take no prisoners trial by fire more perilous and more unpredictable than any he’s faced before. In 2018, the world’s most dangerous super-spy goes to war with the Valiant Universe…

Guest-starring X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, Livewire, Archer & Armstrong, Shadowman, and many more, don’t miss the ULTIMATE JUMPING-ON POINT for the most acclaimed and hotly followed publisher anywhere in comics today as Ninjak leads an all-star introduction to the most brutal fighters the Valiant Universe has to offer!

Everything Goes Black! Jeff Lemire Plunges Bloodshot Salvation #7 into Total Darkness

Valiant has announced that New York Times best-selling writer and Eisner Award-winning visionary Jeff Lemire will take the helm to write and illustrate Bloodshot Salvation #7 – the year’s most terrifying, most memorable special issue…told entirely in PITCH-BLACK DARKNESS!

On March 7thas Bloodshot journeys farther into the uncanny dimension known as the Deadside for “The Book of the Dead,” everything goes black as one of the most inventive minds in comics today tests the boundaries of the medium with a gripping standalone tale of perseverance and pain at the edge of human understanding…

Deployed into the demonic realm called Deadside in search of a cure for his ailing infant daughter, Bloodshot has lost the one sense he needs most to navigate the land of the dead: his sight. Blinded with only his four-legged ally, Bloodhound, to aid him, Ray Garrison must fight onward as one man against the darkness – even as he is beset from all sides by a horde of inhuman entities that crave only death, suffering, and slaughter…

Featuring covers by Lemire, Raúl AllénRenato GuedesDavid Lafuente, and comics legend Bob Layton!

Preview: X-O Manowar (2017) #4


Written by MATT KINDT
Cover A by LEWIS LAROSA (APR172114)
Cover B by DAVE JOHNSON (APR172115)
Interlocking Variant Cover by RYAN BODENHEIM (APR172117)
X-O Manowar Icon Variant by BOB LAYTON (APR172118)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | VALIANT PREMIUM | On Sale JUNE 28th (FOC – 6/5/17)


In the fires of victory, a soldier becomes…a general. With the hostile Cadmium army crushed beneath his force’s boots, Aric of Dacia now commands an entire fleet into the final battle for the soul of an empire. But as a new dawn rises across this unrelenting alien world, what vicious new menace will come forth to greet it?

X-O Manowar’s path to domination darkens as blockbuster artist Doug Braithwaite (ARMOR HUNTERS) joins New York Times bestselling writer Matt Kindt (DIVINITY, Mind MGMT) for a perfect, planet-shaking entry point into Valiant’s biggest series yet!

Preview: Ninjak #26


Written by MATT KINDT
Cover A by RYAN BODENHEIM (FEB172068)
Cover B by JUAN JOSÉ RYP (FEB172069)
Cover C by ROBERT GILL (FEB172070)
Variant Cover by BOB LAYTON (FEB172071)
Variant Cover by TULA LOTAY (FEB172072)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale APRIL 19 (FOC – 3/27/17)

Battle royale!

The moment you’ve been waiting for is here—the final, steel-splintering showdown between Ninjak and Master Darque! But when Valiant’s top assassin and lord of death come to blows, you can bet there’s going to be serious collateral. What will become of the deadly crime cartel known as the Shadow Seven? What final fate awaits the life of Ninjak’s former lover and most hated enemy, Roku? All will be revealed as Ninjak enters a blistering barrage of revelations and revenge…and exits with a brand-new place in the Valiant Universe!

Flashback Friday Friday Review: Archer & Armstrong #2

archerandarmstrong2To save all Creation, Archer attempts to assassinate Erica Pierce! But “Mothergod” is beyond harm and she easily thwarts the attack. For this affront, Archer and Armstrong are thrown in the dungeon. When the pair escape, Erica sends her finest warrior, Turok, Dinosaur Hunter, to hunt them down. But, sensing Archer’s inner nobility, Turok spares their lives and forsakes his allegiance to Mothergod.

My experience with Valiant comics in the 90s was scattered and I don’t remember reading this issue before, and in general anything from the Unity event.

Archer & Armstrong #2 was written by Jim Shooter and Barry Windsor-Smith and part of the company-wide crossover from 1992 bringing together Harbinger, Magnus, Rai, Shadowman, Solar, and X-O Manowar. It also introducde new series Archer & Armstrong and Eternal Warrior. The main story involves Mothergod who attempts to rewrite reality bringing together all of these heroes.

So, here I am reading this second issue for an event I don’t remember.

The issue is an interesting one and you can see a lot of what we’ve come to expect with today’s take on these two characters. Armstrong is the long lived partier and Archer is still the religious conservative. This take though has Archer more as a monk than the Christian nut we see in the latest take. It’s a slight difference, but an interesting one to note.

What’s also fun is seeing Turok involved in the series. For those not familiar this version of the Valiant universe featured Gold Key characters like Turok, Magnus, and Solar. Those were comics I remember a bit more and seeing Turok running around with his bow taking on these two added a bit of nostalgia for that take on the character (my first introduction to him).

The story is basically a jail break, nothing much more than that, and the relationship between these two characters that continues to shine. This might be one of the best pairings of characters ever in comics and what works now worked then giving it a bit of a timeless feel to it all.

The art by Barry Windsor-Smith is solid with colors by Maurice Fontenot and inks by Bob Layton. I’m not quite sure how to describe the style but the colors have an almost colored pencil look to it on top of Windsor-Smith’s fantastic pencils. I’ve been a fan of his art for some time, and we can see some of why here.

The issue is being dropped in the middle of a story but I found myself being entertained. There’s enough there that one can enjoy and seeing versions of these characters from 25 years ago kept me pretty entertained. Though it was different, a lot remained the same.

Story: Jim Shooter and Barry Windsor-Smith Art: Barry Windsor-Smith
Ink: Bob Layton Color: Maurice Fontenot

Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read

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