Saturday, May 5, 2012

Valiant Returns!! X-O Manowar #1

Important Details to get out of the way first--

X-O Manowar #1
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writing: Robert Venditti
Pencils: Cary Nord
Inks: Stefano Gaudiano
Colors: Moose Baumann
Cover Art By: Esad Ribic, Cary Nord, David Aja, and Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic
Editing (he's essential): Warren Simons

There we go.

Due to a variety of reasons, I can't make it to the Free Comic Book Day festivities today. So I figure I might as well post a comic book "review". That should cover for my long Grognerdy absence, eh?

Valiant Comics was an important part of my latter youth. They and the Epic imprint really did a lot to change my perspective on how comics are made, marketed, and enjoyed. There's more to be said there, and there are many more comic book obsessed people who are infinitely more qualified than I am to get into it. But Valiant hasn't been around for a long, long time...

...And they return with an epic smash-fist of a goddamned great comic. Just insert a whole bunch of needless hyperbole right here, alright? The truth is that this is an excellent tale of the sequential art persuasion. Cary Nord's art is only magnified by Gaudiano and Baumann's efforts, and Nord knocks it out of the park. So, yeah, the art is awesome. I loved it. I think there's a panel or two where I was, like, "Hmmm", but it doesn't matter. I can't take art THAT seriously. All I really give a fuck about is "Is it rad?"; and the answer to that, my friends, is "CROM, YES". Nord brings the same game he brought to Conan, and it really shows and shows hard.

Then there's the writing and story. Right, so X-O Manowar back in the 90s can be looked up here. Read that? No? Well, the main character is a Visigoth* dude named Aric. He's from 5th century Dacia. I cannot tell you how many history boners I have seeing "Dacia" in comic books. There's Romans, too, and Aric fucks their shit up hardcore. But all is for naught, as the Romans are a murderlicious beat-down machine. Don't worry, though, Alaric, who makes an appearance (perhaps there to increase the enormity of my nerd -boner zeppelin fleet), will beat the fucking hell out of Rome and even sack their ass.

(*Think a people comprised of angry historical Goths, not an army of arthouse types who look like Robert Smith or Christian Death. Or Lycia and the Virgin Prunes. See? I know my goth shit, yo.) 

Take that, you Roman dicks.

Anyways, Aric bumps into these aliens who call themselves The Vine and gets abducted. There's this suit of armor that they have and no one can wear, but then Aric shows up and plans his escape right away... and you can see where this is all going. It's Spartacus meets Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. Except instead of some raging pussy* from America (or Britain, for you fellow Dan Dare fans), he's a Dacian Visigoth Asshander. Space Spartacus is gonna fight the Space Romans. It's pretty freaking sweet, actually. This first issue is all set-up and leaves things ready to jam into high gear come #2. I'm already excited for it.

(*Comparatively. And apologies to any women's groups offended.) 

Now, for you fellow History Geeks, don't expect the history shown to be perfect, but kudos to Robert Venditti for going the extra mile for verisimilitude's sake (onagers!). Also, it's a rip-roaring tale which makes me fall in love with comics all over again. This is why I read comic books, goddammit. I just hope they can keep the awesome up as the story progresses. Massive high-fives and salutants to Mr. Venditti.

To the crew of X-O Manowar: VICTORIA! VICTORIA! Per aspera ad astra!

One final note: I hope Valiant doesn't mind, but I had to find an image of this and post it in this write-up. It is my favorite part of the comic and shows just how committed these guys are to telling a great story.

Just click on it already!!!

Dude. I about crapped myself with glee.

Nutshell: If you love pulp action, history, sci-fi laser stuff, aliens, and an overall epic feel to things, buy the hell out of X-O Manowar. Lovers of European historical fantasy, Heavy Metal, 2000 AD, Marvel and DC's cosmic material (that's you, Jim Starlin and Abnett & Lanning fanbeings), and role-playing nerds will all find this right up their respective tears-of-joy alleys.


Wow, I really gushed, didn't I? I suppose it's been awhile since I read a comic I enjoyed this much. Other may not be so forgiving or kind, but I don't care. I will read this comic as long as it remains this cool.