“A Valiant Read” is a regular column in which we highlight some of the best jumping-on points for the Valiant Universe. Find out more.
Welcome to the first edition of A Valiant Read! For its debut, we’ll be delving into X-O Manowar Volume 1: By The Sword. Written by Robert Venditti (Green Lantern, The Surrogates) with art by Cary Nord (Wonder Woman, Conan the Barbarian), this collection covers issues #1-4 of the series that kick-started the Valiant revival.
Don’t stress if you don’t know anything about X-O Manowar, by the end of this you’ll know what’s his deal is, how to read this series, as well as some fun things along the way.
Who is X-O Manowar?
Aric of Dacia is a man out of time.
After a battle with the Roman Empire in 402 AD, the Visigoth warrior Aric was taken by aliens, known as The Vine, and forced to be their slave. After years of work, he finally escapes with an all-power armour that the alien race worships. He returns to Earth to find that 1,600 years have passed.
The alien armour that Aric possesses, known as the Manowar or Shanhara, is all-powerful. With all it can do, you could almost call it the swiss-army knife of armours. Most of it we won’t see in the introductory volume but some of the abilities it grants include:
- Energy blasts
- A huge energy sword
- Regenerative abilities
Aric himself is a driven man and the root of all his decisions come from his drive. A drive to be free. A drive to be with his wife again. A drive to defeat his oppressors, whether they be the Romans or The Vine.
But he’s also a warrior through and through. He never backs down from a fight and he is often the one leading the charge. And even when all seems lost Aric is never one to lose hope.
Written by Robert Venditti. Pencilled by Cary Nord. Inked by Stefano Gaudiano. Colours by Moose Baumann. Lettered by Dave Lanphear.
X-O Manowar Volume 1: Die By The Sword tells Aric’s origin story, refreshing it from the 90s version, while at the same time sets up future stories.
Venditti’s scripts are well-paced and he packs a lot in over the space of four issues to get Aric from 402 AD warrior to present-day superhero. Each step in the process feels like it has explored thoroughly without spending too much time on any given segment.
Cary Nord continues the trend of economical storytelling by laying out his pages in a way that pushes the story forward effectively and doesn’t waste the page. When we’re treated to a splash page or a two-page spread it really pops. A great example of this is quite early on when a spread is used to establish the Roman army’s scale. That extra real estate really pays off.
Fans of action are in for a treat. This volume offers plenty of action in many distinct flavours. There’s ancient battlefield action, science fiction themed hand-to-hand combat, as well as thrills of the superhero variety.
Overall, the debut volume of X-O Manowar is a solid introduction to the Valiant Universe which gives readers plenty of reasons to come back for more.
A Valiant Track
Every edition, I pick a tune that matches the energy of the comic that is being featured. For X-O Manowar I have chosen Battle Hymns by Manowar. This 1982 track from the power metal pioneers captures the warrior spirit of the comic and partially shares a name with the comic’s title.
If you have any other ideas for songs that would suit then feel free to leave them in the comments.
The V Awards
The Handy Info Award
Winner: Rian Hughes
At the beginning of the trade paperback there is a really handy infographic which really helps to set the scene the for the beginning of this story. It explains who are the Visigoths and Romans are and what their deal is in 402 AD
The Culture Shock Award
There’s got to be a lot of culture shock involved with being taken by aliens AND THEN being displaced 1,600 years into the future. If you can make it out the other end then you deserve an award.
The Getting Started Award
Don’t worry, I won’t be giving myself an award for every Valiant series. It’s a one-time thing. I have been sitting on the idea of The Valiant Read for about four years so I am giving myself an award for actually following through.
Want to read more X-O Manowar? These are the volumes you need to read to continue the action.
X-O Manowar Volume 2: Enter Ninjak
Written by Robert Venditti. Art by Lee Garbett.
Collects: X-O Manowar #5-8.
X-O Manowar Volume 3: Planet Death
Written by Robert Venditti. Art by Cary Nord and Trevor Hairsine.
Collects: X-O Manowar #9-14.
X-O Manowar Volume 4: Homecoming
Written by Robert Venditti. Art by Lee Garbett.
Collects: X-O Manowar #15-18.
X-O Manowar Volume 5: At War With Unity
Written by Robert Venditti. Art by Cary Nord, Vicente Cifuentes, and Trevor Hairsine.
Collects: X-O Manowar #19-22.
X-O Manowar Volume 6: Prelude to Armor Hunters
Written by Robert Venditti with Tom Fowler and Justin Jordan. Art by Diego Bernard, Sean Chen, Tom Fowler, Bryan Hitch, J.G. Jones, Barry Kitson, Cary Nord, Rafer Roberts, and Andy Runton.
Collects: X-O Manowar #23-25.
X-O Manowar Volume 7: Armor Hunters
Written by Robert Venditti. Art by Diego Bernard.
Collects: X-O Manowar #26-29.
X-O Manowar Volume 8: Enter: Armorines
Written by Robert Venditti. Art by Diego Bernard and Clay Mann.
Collects: X-O Manowar #30-32 and #0.
X-O Manowar Volume 9: Dead Hand
Written by Robert Venditti. Art by Diego Bernard and Rafa Sandoval.
Collects: X-O Manowar #33-37.
X-O Manowar Volume 10: Exodus
Written by Robert Venditti with Amy Chu, Rafer Roberts and Andy Runton. Art by Rafa Sandoval with Clayton Henry, Rafer Roberts and Andy Runton.
Collects: X-O Manowar #38-42.
X-O Manowar Volume 11: The Kill List
Written by Robert Venditti. Art by Robert Gill, CAFU, and Francis Portela.
Collects: X-O Manowar #43-46, X-O Manowar: Commander Trill #0, and X-O Manowar: Valiant 25th Anniversary Special #1.
X-O Manowar Volume 12: Long Live The King
Written by Robert Venditti. Art by Joe Bennett and Roberto de la Torre.
Collects: X-O Manowar #47-50.
X-O Manowar Volume 13: Succession and Other Tales
Written by Robert Venditti, Amy Chu, and Jody Houser. Art by Clayton Henry, Adam Gorham, Mike McKone, Pere Perez.
Collects: X-O Manowar 2016 Annual #1, Book of Death: The Fall of X-O Manowar #1, and 4001 A.D.: X-O Manowar #1.
Join me in two weeks when I explore the first volume of Bloodshot!