ADVANCE REVIEW: X-O Manowar #1
Editor’s Note: This is an advanced review from Valiant. X-O Manowar #1 releases March 22, 2017. Get hyped.
Written by: Matt Kindt
Art by: Tomas Giorello & Diego Rodriguez
Let’s start with some general problems before diving into the review. Problem One: Advanced review copies mean I have to be somewhat vague in regards to details so as to avoid spoilers. Sorry. I will do my best. Problem Two: I don’t know anything about X-O Manowar as a property or Aric as a character. This is my first foray into this universe, so I can’t compare or contrast this version with the older ones.
I can tell you what this version reminds me of though. X-O Manowar is like a gritty John Carter of Mars with Gears of War technology and blue Avatar aliens thrown in for good measure. Planet Gorin gives off some Star Wars vibes with its vibrant backdrops and scary looking monsters at the end, and the action scenes remind me of more John Carter of Mars.
In short, it’s a solid mix of science fiction, and it’s all put together with some great artwork. Tomas Giorello & Diego Rodriguez use a more realistic, painted style that I’ve seen employed in other Valiant comics, and every time I run into it, I wonder why I don’t read more from this publisher. Their books are quite pretty.
My one complaint is that the faces themselves aren’t all that expressive. Aric has some great range to him, but no one else really does. I have to wonder if that’s because they’re aliens, but it is a little annoying that the visual emotion doesn’t pop as well as the backdrops, colors, and action sequences.
As a new reader, the narrative on display here is accessible, though it isn’t exactly complicated either. Aric is on an alien planet and doing his best to avoid war, but war finds him. To say that he has been drafted would be an understatement as the book goes from his home life to a 14 page battle and then ends with a typical comic book cliffhanger.
It’s fun stuff though, and my comparing it to John Carter of Mars is by no means a negative. Those are fun scifi books with loads of over-the-top violence. This has that in spades, and while I know nothing of Manowar, I imagine it’s why fans are here.
Though at 14 pages, there is some action fatigue by the end. I’d have preferred a longer intro to more establish Aric, his wife, and the world he’s in. There’s just enough to lend agency and build sympathy, but not enough to really count as world building.
I’d have also liked a little more humor. The art style lends itself to very serious storytelling, but the action goes on for so long that it starts to feel cartoon violent. Given that Googling Manowar gives me pictures of scifi armor (and a metal band), I imagine that’s only going to go up, not down.
Gears of War works because even while it’s gritty to a fault, it knows that it’s a goofy machismo video game and that all its characters are goofy machismo video game characters.
Still, my few complaints here aren’t damning by any means, and I very much enjoyed my time with this comic. It’s a great dose of action done up in some pretty artwork, and while the narrative isn’t complicated, it makes up for that with stabbing and explosions. Sometimes that’s all you need.
X-O Manowar #1
- John Carter + Gears of War + Avatar
- 14 pages of action
- Artwork is damn pretty
- Would have liked more world building
- A joke or two wouldn’t have hurt either