“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.
We’re back for another edition of A Valiant Read, where we cover great jumping-on points for reading the Valiant Universe. For lucky number #7, we return to X-O Manowar to explore the ins and outs of X-O Manowar Volume 4: Homecoming. Written by Robert Vendetti (Green Lantern, Hawkman) and pencilled by Lee Garbett (2000 AD, Loki: Agent of Asgard), this volume covers issues #15-18.
Don’t worry if you haven’t read any of the previous X-O Manowar issues. As you’ll soon learn, Homecoming is an excellent place to start reading. Further to that, A Valiant Read will give you everything you need to know to start reading and what to read next.
Who are the major players?
While the comics are written in a way that gives new readers everything they need to know about the characters, knowing a little bit about them makes jumping into an existing series less daunting. Here’s a quick rundown on two of the major players.
The elevator pitch for X-O Manowar goes like so:
A barbarian with the most technologically-advanced weapon in existence! 1,600 years ago a Visigoth warrior, Aric of Dacia, is kidnapped by an alien race known as The Vine. After years of slavery, Aric escapes and comes into the possession of a powerful sentient suit of armour. But through his freedom, he is time-displaced in the present day and man he’s pissed about it.
Wild stuff, ey.
So what can this armour do? It has all kinds of abilities, including:
- Energy blasts
- A huge energy sword
- Regenerative abilities
And with an act-first think later mentality, he’s not afraid to use everything the armour offers.
The Eternal Warrior
Gilad, aka The Eternal Warrior, is an immortal who has walked the Earth for more than six thousand years. Throughout this time, he has been responsible for protecting the Geomancer as “The Fist and the Steel.” Because of this responsibility, he has a strong sense of honour and duty.
He first met Aric 1,600 years ago while spending time with the Visigoths. There he trained Aric as a fighter and battled the Romans alongside him.
The Eternal Warrior has been featured in many Valiant comic book series including Archer and Armstrong, Unity, and his solo series.
Written by Robert Vendetti. Pencilled by Lee Garbett. Inked by Stefano Gaudiano. Coloured by Moose Baumann. Lettered by Dave Sharpe.
Since last discussing X-O Manowar, many things have happened to Aric of Dacia. In the broadest of strokes, he got his revenge on The Vine for kidnapping him and his people and turning them into their slaves. In the process, he liberated the descendants of his Visigoth ancestors. Now as we open this arc, Aric and his people heading back to Earth to make a new life for themselves.
It’s not only a new start for the Aric and the Visogth people, but Homecoming is also the beginning of a new phase in the X-O Manowar series. It’s a fresh jumping-on point that doesn’t ignore what had come before but looks to the future and a shift in the kinds of stories told.
The basis of this story is Aric returning to his ancestral homeland Dacia, now present-day Romania, to make a settlement for the Visigoth people. But as you can expect, a spaceship coming to Earth and then claiming land will cause all kinds of trouble.
The creative team does a great job of exploring the different possibilities of this event and the different kinds of conflict it creates. How does each country react? Also, will all the Visigoths agree with the approach Aric has taken?
A lot of this conflict comes from Aric being a man out of time who is unwilling to change, often to his detriment. Homecoming does a lot of work to explore Aric the man by revisiting the events that shaped him. Flashbacks are implemented throughout and look at his childhood and early adult years. Through doing this, we begin to see the justification in his decisions – even if they are no longer compatible in today’s world.
Lee Garbett communicates these ideas by mapping out the page in context to the narrative. Larger panels are used for big action and cinematic moments. For instance, the fight with the Eternal Warrior lots of big moments and often these will take up much of the page for emphasis. Smaller ones, such as the above, are used for character-centric moments and often framed close up to focus on expressions.
Overall, this is a solid jumping-on point for X-O Manowar, which showcases the next stage in X-O Manowar. So jump on in, there’s plenty of exciting action to come.
The V Awards
Each edition of A Valiant Read I give out awards to various concepts, characters, and ideas. The winners this time are…
Leap of Faith Award
Winner: Alexander Doran
You’ve got have a lot of faith when you jump out of a helicopter without a parachute. It also gives us the fantastic panel that you see above.
The Word of the Wise Award
Gilad has walked the Earth for more than ten thousand years. With the passage of time and his experiences, he has been able to change better himself. He has also accumulated much wisdom which he’s willing to impart to Alric.
Now, if only Alric was willing to listen. It would certainly solve a lot of his problems!
A Brush of Colour Award
Winner: Moose Baumann
Most of the colouring in this volume fits in the with the Valiant aesthetic of the time. It does what it sets out to do but none of it stands out. That’s until colourist Moose Baumann introduces a hand-painted colour style, complete with soft pinks and oranges.
Used for flashbacks, this treatment of colour not only looks great but it serves two purposes. Firstly, it aids in separating the past from the present day. Secondly, it helps set the nostalgic tone, with Aric looking back on his childhood with fondness.
Want to read more X-O Manowar? You could either go back and start from the beginning or you can read the following:
Unity Volume 1: To Kill A King
Written by Matt Kindt. Art by Doug Braithwaite.
Collects: Unity #1-4
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
The above X-O Manowar volume ties directly with the events of Unity and is a good companion.
Following this we start building towards Valiant’s next comic book event, Armor Hunters.
Find complete list of X-O Manowar collections here.
Join us next time when we cover the first volume of Unity!