X-O Manowar #1 2020 Review
Written by Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum
Art by Emilio Laiso
32 pages, $3.99
Solicit: WIN THE BATTLE, LOSE THE WORLD.
Aric of Dacia, a 5th-century warrior catapulted into the modern-day, has been bonded with the sentient alien armor, Shanhara. Together, they are the most powerful weapon in the world: X-O Manowar.
As a mysterious new villain arises to threaten the world, will this ancient warrior evolve into the superhero we need today?
My first experience with Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum was back in the pages of the 2013 Avengers Arena series and I instantly fell in love. If you never read Arena I’ll bet your LCS has a copy and they could really use your business at the moment. Hopeless loves to punish his characters but never in a sadistic way. From the kid-Avengers he ran through the wringer to his amazing run on Spider-Woman that saw the character as a new mother Hopeless has always left his characters better off with his story. Also, I have no idea if “Hopeless” is a nickname or not but that’s how I will be referring to Dennis in this review.
I can’t speak to Laiso as he’s a new name for me. I will say that when an artist like Ivan Reis is a comic’s cover artist the interior art has a lot to live up to. Luckily Laiso appears to be more than up to the challenge.
The story picks up in well-tread territory with Aric (X-0) tearing an alien from its spacecraft before it launches an evil plan on the unknowing populace of Earth but Hopeless instantly takes the plot in a new direction. Instead of New York cheering for Aric the public is complaining about him dropping an alien spacecraft into traffic.
Up until this issue, X-O has been a fish-out-of-water story for sure, but Hopeless seems to be examining how a 4th century Visigoth would fit into modern society in simpler but not less important ways. We see Aric confused talking to his suit as to why New Yorkers would be upset about waiting in traffic rather than celebrate his victory. He even makes some new friends while trying to fit in more which leads to a scene ripped straight from the headlines.
Aric is basically living as a Hobo because where he came from he was used to sleeping under the stars and hunting wild animals because he has a suit that can fly him anywhere very quickly. So why pay for food when he’s used to hunting for a meal? It’s Shanaharra, the voice of the suit that is gently trying to push Aric to change to fit in and it leads to some very believable and more down to earth consequences than we’ve seen in the pages of X-O up until now.
On the art-side Laiso and colorist Ruth Redmond light this story up with cosmic-barbarian action but don’t miss a beat when bringing the story back down to the streets of New York. Laiso’s style reminds me of Steve McNiven’s line work with more of the cartooning style of Gabriel Rodriguez of Lock and Key fame.
Hopeless is a new voice at Valiant and brings with him a new, more human Aric of Dacia that this character needed. I’ve loved all the runs of the current X-O title but this new story looks to add some badly needed humanity to Aric’s character. I’m excited to see what a creator like Hopeless does at Valiant and his art team is top-notch.
Rating: Buy it
You can hear this review and what Joe had to say about X-O Manowar #1 on episode 566 of the show!