“Aric of Dacia’s bone-crushing climb to the throne of an alien world earned him scores of allies…and a legion of scorned enemies. Now, stripped of his crown and cast out of his kingdom, the man known as X-O Manowar must return to his roots as a sword-wielding warrior of Earth if he is to survive the relentless band of intergalactic bounty hunters that have been hired to kill him cold. But with few places left to turn, could the last Visigoth’s best hope be the all-powerful…but insidious…weapon he once swore away: the X-O Manowar armor?”
Usually when a hero saves the world and wins a war we don’t get to see the fallout of the victory, we tend to move on after a happy ending and a nondescript amount of time. But with X-O Manowar #11, Matt Kindt explores what happens when a man entirely unqualified to rule a planet ends up as said planet’s emperor, and for all his good intentions, Aric’s rule is beset by very legitimate problems that, being the conquering hero, he had never thought of. Couple this with his refusal to rely on the sacred armour of Shanhara, the sentient and incredibly knowledgeable armour in almost any capacity other than as a tool, and you have a man who knows he is running out of time to unite the peoples of the planet Gorin, but is seemingly incapable of moving past his own stubborn belief he doesn’t need any help.
Needless to say, some of the people Aric rules over have had enough of his chaos, and have hire bounty hunters to remove him. Last issue introduced those bounty hunters to the reader, and with X-O Manowar #11 we see them being introduced to our hero in a remarkably well written book.
Ryan Bodenhiem brings a different aesthetic to the comic than the previous artistic team, and his depiction of Aric’s beaten and scarred body against a stark, desert like landscape has an odd sense of poetry about it; coupled with this, the page layouts also have an elegance to them that balances the harsh, yet oddly beautiful palnet Gorin (fans of desert vistas will know exactly what I mean by this). Bodenheim may not be an artist I’m as overly familiar with as some of the others previously attached to this series, but I love the differences in visuals he brings to the comic. In doesn’t hurt that the colouring work of Andrew Dalhouse is, as ever utterly fantastic.
Without stepping into spoiler territory too far, there’s a moment in the comic that has echoes of a scene a few issues ago, only with somewhat different results. Kindt’s not-so-subtle reference to the earlier issue is made all the better by the subversion of your expectations; just because something has happened before, doesn’t mean it will again. And by shifting your expectations, he also gives you a glimpse into the other side (again, this is a vague statement to avoid the spoiler hammer) of the coin. Although if you’ve read the solicitations, you’ve probably got an idea as to where the outcome of this three part story is heading, I can’t wait to see the political journey that sets Aric up for X-O Manowar #14.
Story: Matt Kindt Art: Ryan Bodenhiem Colourist: Andrew Dalhouse
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Valiant provided a FREE copy for review, but I’ll be buying this anyway.