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.
Harvey Award-winning writer Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum and breakout star Emilio Laiso unleash Valiant’s most powerful protector! Torn from the past and bonded with a living alien armor, will X-O Manowar become the hero the world needs now? As a futuristic force arises to destroy the planet, only this ancient warrior king has the courage to stand against impossible odds!
This is an updated version of a review for X-O Manowar #2. The original review copy was largely black and white as the colouring hadn’t been finalized. As such, the text is largely unchanged aside from the specifically noted UPDATE section below.
I recall reading this comic the first time around about three months back; it was a super early version designed to give folks an early preview at what’s coming up for the series. I enjoyed the book when I first read it, but after everything that’s happened in the world since first reading the book, I realized that there was more to X-O Manowar #2 than I first noticed – or maybe I’m looking at the comic with a different perspective. A lot has happened in the last three months, so it’s not surprising that a piece of art resonates with me in a different way.
Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum continues his polarizing depiction of Aric as he lives within a larger city with a single mother and her teenage son. Seeing the former king and emperor in this role hasn’t been popular with some readers, but personally I’m really enjoying seeing Aric trying to find a new way to fit into the modern world now that he’s lost everything but Shanhara. We’re seeing Aric adjust to being a modern man (sort of) in a totally unfamiliar world, and Hallum is using the fish out of water to let some humor into the comic. Not at Aric’s expense, but rather more along the lines of how the jokes are made in the first Thor movie.
The story in this issue is about how X-O Manowar, for all his power and access to knowledge from across human history, is still relatively unaware how to present himself in today’s world as the media falls out of love with him and he struggles to understand the complexity of certain situations. It’s an interesting angle to take with the character, and one I hope Hallum continues to explore as the series progresses.
I’m still all in for this comic, and I can’t wait to see how it improves when the finished product arrives. Although the book doesn’t have any color in it, Emilio Laiso‘s art still brings a wonderful quality to the proceedings. If the art is as good as the last issue, then I can’t wait to reread and update this again.
UPDATE: Well shit, what a difference a finished product makes. X-O Manowar #2 has the unenviable task of catching the attention of people after a long gap between issues who may or may not have read the first issue (And who may not really recall what happened in that issue). I’m honestly impressed that Valiant didn’t slap a big fat number one on the cover to draw attention to the young series.
Now there’s no doubt I enjoyed the story the last time through, and still do, but there’s something about Ruth Redmond‘s vibrant colouring work that makes the entire story pop. I love black and white comics, but there’s a difference between comics with art that should be black and white, and art that is yet to be coloured – and the swooping skies as Aric chases a robot across the water are understated and simplistic in design, but that simplicity conveys a sense of speed that’s underscored by the banter between Aric and Shanhara.
Redmond’s colours that elevate Laiso’s art into a level of fun that I didn’t realize I needed after a rough couple of days technology wise for myself. Ultimately, that’s why I love comics – their ability to take you away from reality (if only briefly). I enjoyed this book a lot when I first read this comic months ago, but the finished product is just so much better than I had expected it to be.
We recently got a chance to sit down with the writer of the latest volume of X-O Manowar and took a deep dive into his inspiration for Shanhara’s characterization, and how he’s been using X-O Manowar to tackle social issues. Originally slated for an April release, this issue is hitting shelves today and we’ve got the spoiler-filled scoop on the issue. So, if you don’t want the issue spoiled, go check it out and come back.
The newest volume has Aric struggling with his place in the world and what it means to be a hero. X-O Manowar #2 is an action-packed chapter that puts a brand-new character, Troy Whitaker, in the spotlight. Will Aric’s new ally help him become the hero that the modern world needs, or will X-O’s primitive ways only cause more damage?
We got to chat with writer Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum about the series and the real-world issues he’s taking head on.
Stay tuned after the interview for a preview of the issue!
Graphic Policy: This series has Aric and Shanhara in situations that we really haven’t seen them in before in that he’s being more of a traditional hero in an urban setting; where did the idea to take the fish out of water concept to the next level come from?
Dennis Hallum: In our very first conversation about the series, Senior Editor Heather Antos and I talked about bringing the series back down to Earth. We’ve seen a lot of X-O Manowar’s battles on distant worlds, toppling alien armadas over the years. We know Aric and Shanhara can stop an invasion, but we’ve seen very little of them on Earth in the here and now. Aric was abducted and enslaved by alien overlords who left him stranded in a future version of home. He’s a hero out of time and that in and of itself is interesting. It allows us to lean into the humanity of the character. To build drama around his blindspots and weaknesses even as he crushes villains underfoot…Which I guess is a long-winded way of saying it was Heather’s idea.
GP: I’ve been loving the characterization of Shanhara – where did the armour’s attitude come from?
DH: Frustration mostly. She’s this brilliant strategist with access to all human knowledge whose impulsive partner controls the arms and legs. Aric and Shanhara trust each other completely, but they couldn’t be more different. She’s the voice always in his ear, telling him to calm down and think of the repercussions. He’s a wrecking-ball tearing up the pavement before she finishes a sentence. It’s a great partnership. They’re better together than apart… But there’s a lot of fun arguing there.
GP: You’ve been able to use Aric to question society’s “progress” rather subtly in the first two issues, such as Aric willingly sharing the deer in issue one; are we likely to see more moments like this in the coming issues?
DH: Yeah, I think it’s one of the most interesting elements of the book’s anachronism. We obviously think of modern society as being super advanced. In many ways it obviously is, but our “grab it, own it, horde it” culture has its problems. There’s a lot we can say about that from Aric’s unique perspective and definitely will be.
GP: The first issue had Aric coming between the police and some kids they were shooting at, which is unfortunately something that’s not unfamiliar to us. Can you talk a little about why you felt that was an important element important to bring to the comic?
DH: One of the best things about working for Valiant is that we get to tackle social issues head-on. We’re not expected to pretend everyone in the city loves and respects the police. One of the obstacles Aric faces in the series is gaining the neighborhood’s trust. He wants to be their hero, but nobody invited him. He’s this big, blue monster who flies through buildings and crashes things. He’s powerful and dangerous and scary if you don’t trust him completely. Those themes seem to fit pretty well into the current conversation about law enforcement…That scene just made sense.
GP: X-O Manowar has Aric being manipulated to step into a civil war in Ukraine. While not exactly what’s going on it has echoes of the reality in Crimea and the nationalist forces at play. Often in comics, you see made-up countries for conflicts but here you’re willing to reference a real-life conflict (though with a bit of a twist on what’s exactly going on). Did you think about using a “fake” country at all? Any thoughts on how it might be taken by certain parties at play there? Part of the conflict is driven by white nationalists, is that going to be touched upon?
DH: The problem with making up a country is that it makes the conflict seem less real. We want the stakes in the book to have real-world weight. That said, I hope people can tell this is superhero fiction and not my treatise on Crimea. I’m not nearly educated enough on Ukrainian politics to put meaningful commentary in the book. Our villain is a very fictional warlord. Our goal was to create a reasonably believable conflict in a place people know.
GP: With the second issue, you’re delving into the influence of the media on our public figures. It’s especially played out in the Ukraine conflict which very much has disinformation/media as an aspect of it. Where’d you get the idea to go in that direction?
DH: I’m fascinated by the influence modern media and social media has over everyone. Sometimes it feels like we live inside a massive propaganda machine designed to make us buy things and hate each other. And if all of that is new and overwhelming to us, how would it feel to a time-stuck Visigoth Prince? You can’t be a public figure in today’s world without intense 24/7 public scrutiny. Everything is being spun and manipulated all the time to make people think this or that…All of which is very frustrating for Aric. He just wants to punch bad things, end wars, and help people. He doesn’t care about his approval rating. He’s not interested in PR.
GP: You’ve tackled some heavy subjects so far (food poverty, police brutality) – what else do you have in store for us?
DH: I’m hoping to balance the budget and decrease the national debt. Once that’s done, the sky’s the limit.
GP: Back on the Ukraine intervention… There’s often a question about heroes not solving real-world issues. You’d think with so much knowledge and power they could cure cancer for instance or end conflict. Is exploring that aspect some of what’s driving this arc?
DH: That’s absolutely the point. When the eyes of the world never close and everyone has an opinion, super heroism becomes a lot trickier. There are real-world ramifications to crashing a helicopter through a building…No matter how evil the helicopter might be. End a war with a punch. Throw a dictator into the ocean. That’s all great, but what happens next? When you power up vigilantism to X-O Manowar levels, there’s no limit to the good he can affect. But rapid change can be very dangerous and is often very unpopular.
GP: A superhero acting on his own in such a way has to raise eyebrows and concerns from world governments. Is that going to be a part of it?
DH: That’s a huge part of this arc, yes. One of my favorite new characters in the book, Billionaire Troy Whitaker, gets to be our mouthpiece for those concerns. He’s a blast to write.
GP: Do you think that superheroes interfering in other country’s problems is an area of comics that really hasn’t been explored all that much?
DH: It’s a tricky subject that has definitely been touched on before, the problem becomes maintaining suspension of disbelief when your hero’s existence would likely completely change the world. If New York is full of superheroes and villains, at what point does it stop looking anything like the real NYC? Our solution is to go ahead and let Aric and Shanhara change the world. Should be fun to see what shakes out.
GP: Thanks very much for your time!
Harvey Award-winner DENNIS HOPELESS (Star Wars: Darth Vader – Dark Visions) and astonishing artist EMILIO LAISO (Marvel’s Spider-Man: Velocity) present an action-packed chapter that puts a brand-new character, Troy Whitaker, in the spotlight. Will Aric’s new ally help him become the hero that the modern world needs, or will X-O’s primitive ways only cause more damage?
Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!
Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!
Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.
Ever: The Way Out (Abstract Studios) – Terry Moore shifts to graphic novels and while we love his serialized comics, a complete story has us excited. This one about prophecies and fallen angels has us very intrigued.
I Walk With Monsters #1 (Vault Comics) – A story about the monsters within as a woman runs into the man who took away her brother.
Kaiju Score #1 (AfterShock) – It’s the most dangerous heist ever attempted. Four desperate criminals are going all in on a once-in-a-lifetime chance to steal millions in art and turn their miserable lives around. The catch? They have to pull it off under the nose of a one thousand-ton Kaiju.
Nailbiter Returns #7 (Image Comics) – The series has been a blast as its had fun with horror tropes keeping readers on their toes and delivering laughs.
The Other History of the DC Universe #1 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – The first issue is absolutely brilliant as the talented John Ridley explores the DC Universe through the viewpoint of its minority characters.
Paris 2119 (Magnetic Press) – Instantaneous teleportation has altered almost every facet of human civilization but that progress has a price. The sci-fi/cyberpunk story has us intrigued.
Power Pack #1 (Marvel) – The Power Pack is back! But, with a law restricting underage superheroes, will they be able to continue to save the day?
The Red #1 (Heavy Metal Virus) – A single government runs the world after a nuclear war and content deemed emotionally dangerous is prohibited. A group of musicians discovers they’re the key to overthrowing the totalitarian government.
Science Comics: Rocks & Minerals (First Second) – Fun for kids and adults, this series are great graphic novels to learn about their topics.
Shang-Chi #3 (Marvel) – The first two issues have been fantastic as the team has reworked a problematic character. It’s full of action and adding so much depth to the character’s history.
Undiscovered Country #10 (Image Comics) – The series has kept us guessing as to what will happen next. The fact we’re constantly surprised is a good thing.
Yasmeen #4 (Scout Comics) – One of the best comics to come out this year, it’s been heartbreaking every issue.
The Witcher: Fading Memories #1 (Dark Horse) – If you’re a fan of the show, check out the new series!
X-O Manowar #2 (Valiant) – The series has been an interesting look at modern superheroes so far as X-O Manowar attempts to figure out his place in the world. The second issue really focuses on what the impact of superheroes would be in a real-world setting.
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 NETHO DIAZ Preorder Variant Cover by FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA 1:25 Sword of Shanhara Variant Cover by DANIEL WARREN JOHNSON On sale NOVEMBER 25th | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+
A new threat emerges from the fires of X-O’s latest battle!
Can X-O save the day, or does the world need a new kind of hero?
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 NETHO DIAZ Preorder Variant Cover by FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA 1:25 Sword of Shanhara Variant Cover by DANIEL WARREN JOHNSON FOC is 11/02/20 (Reviews by then are greatly appreciated) On sale NOVEMBER 25th | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+
A new threat emerges from the fires of X-O’s latest battle!
Can X-O save the day, or does the world need a new kind of hero?