Imagine a man from another time. He has a super intelligent suit that gives him great power. When combined with his suit Shanhara, Aric, the 5th century Visigoth becomes X-O ManoWar. But even the suit can’t help when the wearer tends to want to do things HIS way. Such is the way of the former warrior prince. And when he ends up in present time, that introduces more issues. He doesn’t quite know how to fit in today’s society and the general public doesn’t quite understand their new “hero.” And because of this, his popularity is just south of a root canal. What he needs is a PR man.

That is where Troy Whitaker comes in. Billionaire Tech Mogul, who’s into clean energy, aerospace, and in his spare time, is a new media influencer. He believes he can help X-O ManoWar become a household name. So much so that when trouble comes, they will WANT the hero to intervene, as opposed to the current situation. Where more often than not, they believe he will only make things worse. Not exactly the reputation a hero wants. So X-O ManoWar brings on Whitaker to change his image.

That requires taking on a number of missions that are basically more humanitarian in nature. Rerouting Volcano eruptions and wildfire control. Things that look good on TV. And if you should save a few hundred thousand lives…that’s a win, WIN!

 

Unfortunately, while so engaged, he is unable to pursue his latest adversary Vlad Yakiov. The rebel leader from the Ukraine who has been wreaking havoc everywhere he has gone. He does so in a ruthless and bloodthirsty manner. Even in the middle of peace negotiations. This is all much to the chagrin of Aric who, as always, is impatiently waiting to take the bad man down. Although in truth, it was disappointing to Yakiov too. He had wanted to challenge himself against X-O ManoWar. But he seemed too busy showing up on TV. Now, Yakiov would have to draw him out.

That was the problem. While Aric has been following Whitaker’s blueprint for public empowerment, Yakiov had been under no such restrictions. So much so that that by the end of the 3rd issue, Aric finds that Yakiov has brought the fight to X-O ManoWar. How he does this I leave for you to read but needless to say, the stakes in this game have gone way up.

Thoughts

X-O ManoWar has a hint of a number of different influences as I see it. It’s almost like a mix of a Starlord, Iron-Man, and Hancock. Starlord (see Marvel Preview Presents Star-Lord #1) because when Peter Quill was chosen to be Starlord, he was combined with a separate super intelligence. In his case, it took the form of his ship instead of armor. Iron Man for the obvious reason of the powerful armor that gives the man his power. And Hancock, because someone took it upon themselves to attempt to use Public Relations to improve the heroes image. Added all together and combined with a man from another time, and you have a fun mix that works.

Sharp Dialogue

Part of the charm of X-O ManoWar is the dialogue between Shanhara and Aric. It can’t be easy when you have super intelligence and you must somehow get a man from the 5th Century with all the attitude of the aristocracy to listen. Of course, it also doesn’t help his public persona when he is seen talking to someone they can’t see. But that is Whitaker’s job to overcome. Or more accurately, that is writer Dennis Hopeless’ job. So, when it comes to mixing sharp dialogue with a generous dose of action, Hopeless is getting the job done. I also appreciate his willingness to censor the “foul” language. We know it is there, but it’s somewhat refreshing to see a conscious effort to curtail it.

Art and Color

The one thing that I have noticed with all the Valiant titles I have read is the vibrancy, and energy of the art and color. X-O ManoWar is no exception. Artist Emilio Laiso and Colorist Ruth Redmond combined with writer Hopeless and Letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou to make a book that embraces the superhero action and makes it leap from the page. Redmond’s vibrant color work and Laiso’s explosive (literally) action creates energy in almost every panel. Combine that with a number of Variant Covers and X-O ManoWar is basically begging you to read it.

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So if you’re looking for a book with sharp dialogue, and action galore you should definitely check out X-O ManoWar #3 from Valiant Comics. On sale December 23rd where great comics are sold.

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