Pros: This is a perfect start to a new chapter in the X-O Manowar story. It sets up an interesting story while also setting the protagonist down a path of self-discovery. In addition, the art is beautiful.
Cons: Nothing large enough to comment on.
Overall: The return of X-O Manowar features some of the biggest action and most interesting plot that this series has ever seen. Aric has changed and this brings a new and mysterious story to the forefront of his life. This book has something for everyone and is particularly forgiving for new readers, yet is something longtime Manowar fans will appreciate specifically.
Valiant has been guaranteeing fans that the return of X-O Manowar is not something they should miss, and this story confirms that they were telling the truth. It is a new and different take on the character, yet this change may be one of the most interesting developments in the history of this character. The status quo is changed, and a lot of things are left unexplained, but one thing is for sure, this is a fantastic story.
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To start with, longtime fans of X-O Manowar will not be disappointed in the level of pure action and fighting that this issue showcases. Despite a calmer, more peaceful Aric, he is still thrust into another battle. This means that he is dodging gunfire, slaying aliens, and blowing things up just as much as ever.
However, the best portions of this issue start with an unexplained change in Aric’s attitude, which then evokes a change in the tone of the entire series. This issue does not feature Aric commanding armies against one of his great enemies. Instead it features Aric as a simple solider, following orders and doing as he is told in the hope that he can return home. Yet it is all by choice, it is a self-imposed sentence. With his armor, he would be able to flee or defeat his captors easily and yet for some reason he chooses not to. This then leads into the real highlight of the issue, Aric’s internal struggle.
Aric’s first appearance, in X-O Manowar Vol. 1: By the Sword (Review), which saw him as an arrogant child desperate to take part in any battle he is able. This issue sees him forsaking his armor and taking up a simple life of farming. Readers can see the internal turmoil he is going through as the armor calls to him, yet he does not want to use it. This struggle, between the child he was and the man he is now, seems to be a focus in this issue, one that will no doubt be continued as this story progresses.
This shift in tone does a lot for the reading experience in this one issue, yet it also gives readers even more of a reason to keep coming back to this series. This is due to the abundance of questions it leads to. Why is Aric acting like this? Why is he on this new world? Why doesn’t he want to use the armor anymore? These questions are filled with potential and give Kindt tons of viable directions to head with this epic.
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To go with this new story, the new artwork looks absolutely phenomenal. Thomás Giorello’s art is a beautiful combination of buildings and people that resemble old Norse imagery with lush, futuristic space landscapes and technology. In this way, it is very reminiscent of some of the best Thor books out there, but with a unique twist that only X-O Manowar can offer. The image of three suns shining down on a beautiful, rustic farm on this issue’s first page was enough to sell me on this book and is more than enough to prove this series has the potential to be a pure visual delight.