Free Comic Book Day 2021 is the perfect time to step into the Valiant universe.
Featuring a cover by The Harbinger artist Robbi Rodriguez, the Valiant Uprising FCBD Special will be available only in comic book shops this August. The must-read issue is packed with content, including…
A brand new X-O Manowar story from Harvey Award-winning writer Dennis Hopeless and breakout star Emilio Laiso. It’s the perfect jumping-on point as Valiant’s flagship hero prepares to “Upgrade the World” this Summer!
A special advance preview of The Harbinger #1, an all-new series from co-writers Jackson Lanzing and Colin Kelly with superstar artist Robbi Rodriguez that promises to take Valiant’s psiot rebel in a vivid new direction!
Plus, find out how the world’s greatest spy responds to being unmasked, hunted, and trapped in a first look at Ninjak #1, the pulse-pounding thrill ride from Ringo Award-winning writer Jeff Parker and legendary artist Javier Pulido.
Finally, get a sneak peek from writer Cullen Bunn and artist Jon Davis-Hunt of what’s to come in the terrifying pages of Shadowman!
Free Comic Book Day 2021 takes place on August 14 at your local comic shop.
Does Manowar make the armor? A new threat towers over X-O. Will he have the strength to bring the titan down? Out this week X-O Manowar #4 saw Aric taking on multiple threats as he attempts to figure out what it exactly means to be a superhero. All of this while the media and world is watching him. With threats both domestic and abroad what does this mean for Aric, X-O Manowar going forward? And what’s up with the armor upgrade?
We discuss this and more with X-O Manowar writer Dennis Hopeless and editor Heather Antos. Plus check out the fantastic art from Emilio Laiso!
Warning, some minor spoilers below!
GP: Hey folks! How’re you both doing on this sunny (for me, anyway) day?
Heather Antos: Well, it’s been below freezing the past several days here so…cold? I’m cold.
Dennis Hopeless: Yeah, it snowed here last night so my day started with shoveling. But at the moment I’m working across the room from the couch fort my kids just built… So I’m very amused.
GP: Last issue we saw Shanhara get an upgrade – can you walk us through how that came to happen from a creative perspective?
HA: If I recall correctly, this was the culmination of a bunch of different conversations between Dennis and I in regards to where we wanted to see Aric and Shanhara’s story go. But I can’t really get into the details just yet…the upgrade of Shanhara is only just the tip of the story iceberg to come…
DH: Yes indeed. One of our major goals for this series was to explore and expand the bond between Aric and Shanhara. The partnership, the friendship and crucial trust between them is our cornerstone. Everything happening right now, including the suit upgrade, is a step down that road.
GP: How much of a hand did you have in designing the new look for Shanhara? What was that process like for the team?
DH: >CRACKS KNUCKLES< I typed a vague panel description and got all the way out of Emilio’s way.
HA: I was fairly hands off, myself. Emilio is a phenomenal artist so I trusted his instincts so long as the design fit the call of the story Dennis has been building. It needed to look sleek and modern — almost how Troy would design the suit if he could — while still honoring the classic suit that we all know and love. I think Emilio nailed it.
GP: When designing a new look, how much of that is driven by the narrative and how much of it drives the narrative?
HA: It all depends on what story you’re telling, but I find it can be a bit of both, you know? The story that comes before is going to inspire the build up of the new look the artist comes up with….but then the new design can very often inspire new stories that will come after. It’s cyclical and such a cool part of comics!
DH: Every bit of it is collaborative, in that it’s a conversation. I try to explain what I see in my head and why we’re doing the things we’re doing, but artists like Emilio almost always bring better ideas and designs than I could dream up to the table. Oftentimes, I’ll get new (better) ideas for future story beats based on the art choices. Greater than the sum of our parts.
GP: Can you tell us whether the new look is a permanent change?
HA: Nice try, but you’re getting no spoilers out of me!
DH: Nothing is permanent. Ever.
GP: You’ve been taking Aric toward a more traditional style of superhero, but in this issue we actually see him apologise for not doing enough; how will that level of expectation play into the series as it progresses?
DH: I mean, yeah, it’s an impossible job… Even for Aric. But also, Aric is starting to learn how to properly communicate with the public. Troy is teaching him that it’s easier to help people who already trust and respect you… And in the age of mass media, you have to gain that trust in a few different ways at once. “I’m sorry I didn’t do better,” carries a lot of weight.
HA: I can’t even begin to imagine what the pressures of being a superhero are — and here we’re really exploring just the tip of the burden Aric has put on himself.
GP: Heather, you edit this series as well as other Valiant ones, how much coordination is there between the various series? Are you all thinking through the impact of these changes on the rest of the Valiant universe
HA: Always. It’s super important for editorial to always be aware of what is going on in the other parts of the universe at all times and how that will impact not only their own books, but also the other editor’s books as well. There’s a ton of behind-the-scenes communication between offices about how to best integrate together.
DH: And it’s important to me to position X-O as a much stronger and more important figure in the Valiant Universe than say… Shadowman. Because Cullen Bunn is a monster and must be defeated.
GP: We’ve seen Aric take on international threats over the course of the series; will you also have him confront domestic terror threats?
HA: I mean, in a way that’s sort of what we’ve seen with Yakiov already, isn’t it? X-O Manowar may be this great superhero that can protect us all from a galactic level, but at heart he’s a man of the people — and those he considers his family will always come first.
DH: If it were up to Aric, he’d help/save everyone everywhere all the time. Shanhara spends a lot of time tamping down those expectations. But absolutely, yes, we have BIG BAD local threats coming up soon.
GP: Dennis, the last panel is quietly terrifying; how much direction did you give Emilio Laiso on that?
DENNIS: I just looked at the script and I typed 11 words for that panel. Emilio is very very good.
GP: I have to ask – what made you write Vlad Yakiov as having milk and pie as he’s waiting for his plan to unfold?
DH: A friend of mine once threatened to create a blog called DENNIS HOPELESS IS HUNGRY because I write a lot of eating scenes into my books. It’s not something I started doing on purpose, but I do think little mundane bits of humanity can add a lot of nuance to dialogue-heavy scenes. In this case, Yakiov is terrorizing this family after destroying their neighborhood… And now he’s eating their food. It’s equal parts creepy and disrespectful and shows us just how confident he is that he’s going to win.
HA: This was all Dennis! But I loved it — it’s almost comical, in a way, but also scary, too. This big scary monster of a man walking into your home and just casually starting to eat your food as he threatens your life and the lives of your loved ones? Terrifying. This big scary monster of a man doing a spittake once he realizes he’s been so easily duped? Hilarious!
GP: Thanks for answering our questions and can’t wait to see what’s next!
Aric as X-O is struggling with the whole superhero thing and he has the whole world watching as he figures it all out. X-O Manowar #4 continues an interesting direction that explores the very concept of being a hero in the modern-day.
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Does Manowar make the armor? A new threat towers over X-O. Will he have the strength to bring the titan down? Dennis Hopeless and Emilio Laiso’s epic journey brings X-O to a stunning crossroads in X-O Manowar #4!
The last issue of X-O Manowar wasn’t the best in the series; frankly, it was a touch disappointing after the first two. The good news with X-O Manowar #4 is that it’s better than X-O Manowar #3. It’s not as good as the first issue, granted, but at least the downward curve was clipped before it really began – a good thing with a series that’s becoming somewhat divisive among long-time fans of the character. Personally, I’ve enjoyed the new direction the character is heading as a way to branch out from what we’ve already seen (not that Venditti or Kindt’s runs were anything but excellent, mind you).
Perhaps one of the strengths of This X-O Manowar is just how much story that writer Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum is able to cram into the comic. Even with the ups and downs of the series, that’s been a solid constant. This issue sees flashes of the Aric we’ve seen before as he acts less like a punch happy simpleton and more like the tactical warrior we know and love; it certainly gives me a reason to hope for the future issues in the series. Hallum is able to effectively cram two comics worth of content into this book without sacrificing the quality or cohesiveness of the story as X-O Manowar returns to New York to face a terrorist invasion.
Given Hallum’s willingness to bring up social issues through the eyes of a time displaced warrior, I’m curious to see whether he’ll follow this story up with a domestic terror threat eventually.
Emilio Laiso‘s art combined with Ruth Redmond‘s colouring is once again a high point in the comic, and they’ve plenty to sink their teeth into here; that Laiso can keep up with Hopeless’ story is impressive as the artist never once seems overwhelmed as the action flows with a smooth grace. The final panel in the book is breathtaking in its simplicity, and yet Laiso and Redmond deliver upon all the emotion you’re feeling and splash it down on the page (no spoilers here, because you need to get the full impact).
This issue is a step in the right direction when it comes to rebounding after X-O Manowar #3, and leaves you wanting more. It’s unlikely to be the best book you read today, but it is certainly entertaining and ultimately that’s what matters when it comes to comics.
Written by DENNIS HOPELESS Art by EMILIO LAISO Colors by RUTH REDMOND Letters by HASSAN OTSMANE-ELHAOU Cover A by CHRISTIAN WARD Cover Bby PAUL RENAUD Cover C by KAEL NGU Preorder Variant Cover by JIM TOWE 1:25 Sword of Shanhara Variant Cover by MICHAEL WALSH On Sale January 27th | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+
Does Manowar make the armor?
A new threat towers over X-O. Will he have the strength to bring the titan down?
Dennis Hopeless and Emilio Laiso’s epic journey brings X-O to a stunning crossroads!
X-O Manowar has been upgraded, but with new power also comes new challenges…
X-O’s battle has come crashing down on his new neighborhood. Will he save the day and become the hero the modern world needs, or will he simply bring about more destruction as he unleashes his rage against his enemies? It all unfolds when X-O Manowar #4 goes on sale onJanuary 27th, and TODAY is the final day for fans to preorder the action-packed issue at their local comic shop. Enjoy the first few pages and covers from the upcoming issue, below…
Written by Dennis Hopeless, the comic features art by Emilio Laiso, colors by Ruth Redmond, and lettering by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. Covers are by Christian Ward, Paul Renaud, Kael Ngu, Jim Towe, and Michael Walsh.
Who wins in a fight: X-O Manowar or a cybernetic tech monster formed out of lava? In order to prevent catastrophe, will Aric hand over the X-O armor to a new ally? Find out in X-O Manowar #3!
Over the years, I’ve taken to pasting the preview/solicitation text for the comics I’m reviewing in the review before I get to what I want to say about the book because that way you’ll have an idea of what the comic is about without having anything spoiled/revealed that hasn’t already been revealed by the publisher. The text above, honestly, gives you very little about the content of the comic itself. Unfortunately, there is a reason for that; the plot of this issue is fairly thin,
This X-O Manowar series hasn’t been as popular with fans as the previous two written by Robert Venditti and Matt Kindt, and I was in the minority of those who really enjoyed the direction that Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum had been taking the character over the course of the first two issues, but with X-O Manowar #3 there’s something missing.
The vibrancy seems to have gone from the comic, with much of the issue focused on Aric doing things he doesn’t particularly care for, and it seems Hallum isn’t as interested in showing us, either – although maybe he is adept at showing that on the page a little too well, as it comes across as a little clunky, with the few bright spots not being enough to balance almost the entire middle of the book. Where the previous two issues had dialogue that was quite witty at times, this issue had none of the warm banter between Aric and Shanhara (which, granted, wasn’t to everyone’s taste) – the back and forth between Aric and his armour felt much more forced than it had.
Maybe it’s because the story’s focus is on PR at the expense of saving lives, and maybe I’m feeling Aric’s displeasure at the way he’s being used, but I don’t think that’s the case.
Emilio Laiso‘s art combined with Ruth Redmond‘s colouring is still a high point in the comic, and at least provides something interesting to look at when reading the at times dull comic. Redmond’s colours that elevate Laiso’s art consistently, and whether it’s the raging lava of a volcano or the more mundane breakfast table scene earlier in the comic (this was actually my favourite part of the comic, honestly – unfortunately it’s at the beginning, and it’s downhill from there).
There’s no doubt that this is the weakest X-O Manowar comic I’ve read in a long time, but it comes off the bck of two comics I did enjoy; the issues I have with this one, primarily is that there’s too much happening and yet very little plot movement – the social issues that had been present in the previous comics are much more muted in this issue (to the point where I find myself having to really stretch to see them). The art saves it a little, and even with what’s probably meant to be a character defining change within its pages, this isn’t a comic that’ll draw new readers in – whether you’re a Valiant fan already or not. hopefully this book is an aberration, a slight dip in an otherwise enjoyable series, because if the quality of X-O Manowar #3 is indicative of where the series is heading, I don’t foresee the series lasting as long as Kindt’s run.
Written by DENNIS HOPELESS Art by EMILIO LAISO Colors by RUTH REDMOND Letters by HASSAN OTSMANE-ELHAOU Cover A by CHRISTIAN WARD Cover B by DAVID NAKAYAMA Cover C by DAVID LOPEZ Preorder Variant Cover by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI & ULISES ARREOLA 1:25 Sword of Shanhara Variant Cover by DUSTIN WEAVER On Sale December 23rd | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+
Who wins in a fight: X-O Manowar or a cybernetic tech monster formed out of lava?
In order to prevent catastrophe, will Aric hand over the X-O armor to a new ally?
Experience the epic adventure that started it all for Valiant Entertainment’s flagship character in Valiant Classic Collections X-O Manowar: Retribution.
Witness the epic origin story of Aric of Dacia, aka X-O Manowar, originally published back in the ’90s in this digital mega-sized collection featuring 284 action-packed pages from the earliest days of the Valiant Universe. X-O Manowar: Retribution is out now and available to purchase on ComiXology, Amazon Kindle, and Google Play.
THE MOST PRIMITIVE MAN, THE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON
Abducted from his own time by the predatory Spider Aliens and displaced to the present day, Aric of Dacia will make war on his one-time captors and any who stand with them. Armed with a sentient suit of battle armor and savagery born in an age of war, he will become the hero this new age demands. Tyrants from beyond time and space, superpowered corporate raiders, and corrupt government power brokers… all will quake in fear where X-O Manowar dares to tread.
Featuring groundbreaking work from comic-book legends Jim Shooter (Secret Wars), Bob Layton (Iron Man), Barry Windsor-Smith (Weapon X), Joe Quesada (Daredevil), Steve Englehart (Detective Comics) and many more, the complete adventures of Valiant’s original armored hero begin here in the first Valiant Classic Collection of the series Graphic Policy calls “a must read“!
Collecting X-O MANOWAR (1992) #0–9, and X-O DATABASE #1.
In X-O Manowar #2, Aric, better known as X-O Manowar, battles a robot who he finds out is linked to rich bad guy Troy Whitaker. After confronting Whitaker, he lets him off the hook, only to have Whitaker show the upper hand in a most villainous way.
Writer Dennis Hallum’s take on X-O is interesting, for sure. He’s taken the character out of his comfort zones and left him as another person in the life of the Morris family, a mom and son who need a Visigoth warrior in their lives. Worse, after some of the actions caused by Whitaker, he’s painted as an enemy, complete with the law coming after him. There’s nothing wrong with that and a character like Aric needs a bit more humanity thrust upon him. For me, it stumbles, such as the cops who end up coming off like a couple of slouches who are clearly out of their league to do anything.
I like Emilio Laiso’s art on X-O Manowar #2. He shows an adequate amount of detail in his work. Honestly, it’s what a superhero book should look like. For the most part, I like the colors and thought Ruth Redmond pairs really well with Laiso’s art. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering is solid, for the most part. Also, I like all the covers on this issue.
The relationship between Aric and Shanhara has evolved through the different series. When X-O came back in 2012, the armor did not speak to Aric and when the series was rebooted a few years ago under writer Matt Kindt, the armor learned to communicate. With this latest series, Shanhara has taken on the personality of a bratty teen who quips back at Aric. It feels completely wrong. Aric’s dialogue isn’t much better between them.
There’s something that feels off on the onomatopoeia, or sound effects, where throughout this issue, they look incomplete. They don’t look fully colored or maybe they are just a wonky font but it looks off.
After reading this issue, I feel like we’re at a low point for the character. The art is fine but that’s never been an issue with X-O Manowar. The story is a bit uninspiring to keep with and there are elements that don’t feel complete. I really hope it’s a case of a mediocre issue and not something more indicative of the entirety of this run of X-O Manowar. As it stands, I’m left wanting more from X-O Manowar #2 and it can’t give it to me.