Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Lee Garbett
Inker: Stefano Gaudiano
Colorist: Moose Baumann
Letterer: Dave Lanphear


Aric of Dacia, a Visigoth from the 5th century, was abducted by an alien race known as The Vine.  He was kept aboard their ship as a slave to tend their gardens but later rebelled and escaped with the help of Sharnhara, the X-O suit.  Due to the nature of space/time/relativity he arrives back on Earth in the 21st century.  In this volume, Aric is pursued by both human and Vine forces.  The Vine seek to reclaim Sharnhara before destroying all live on Earth while the humans view Aric/X-O as a terrorist and want to see him eliminated. In order to further their goals, the Vine, working through undercover operatives hidden inside the British government, employ the services of Ninjak, a highly skilled ninja mercenary/spy.  Ninjak and X-O come into contact with each other, resulting in a...well, it's not exactly a meeting of the minds.  However, at a third party's suggestion a temporary truce is formed until the truth behind The Vine can be determined and dealt with.

Well, folks, first off, even I am amazed I didn't start off with a DC book. ;)
OK, seriously, though, I got this is a set from the good folks over at Comic Bento (no, they do not sponsor me, but I felt the need to point out I probably wouldn't have shelled out the cash on this on my own) in their September 2015 box.  I had not read any of the new X-O MANOWAR series up until this point, aside from the small bits of stuff I had seen from Valiant Publishing at Free Comic Book Day.  I was very familiar with the 1990s versions of both X-O and Ninjak.

Keep in mind these were both from the time of "embossed, foil, die-cut, double-gatefold covers" being used to push sales of a book.  But really the thing to remember is that these old versions came out about the time that Image and Wildstorm were quickly becoming big name things and everybody wanted in on the comics game.  Ah, the early 90s...Heck, X-O was even partnered in a video game with Iron Man, but that's a discussion for an entirely different blog.

Anyway, these newer versions are not all that different from their 90s counterparts.  The art has made them much more streamlined and less bulky.  The story of Aric is changed only slightly to be able to give richer backstory to the aliens and to allowed for Solar, Man of the Atom to no longer be a part of the shared universe (he was pretty integral to Valiant in the 90s).  With only issues 5-8 collected in this trade you'd think there wouldn't be a ton of story progression.  Well, you'd mostly be right, but there is easily enough packed in to help you come to terms with what is happening without having to read the first volume, hook your interest in the story that is happening, and still provide some wonderful visuals for the fight scenes.
Honestly, I found myself wanting to read a lot more about Ninjak than X-O, but that was also true in the 90s.  He's just a more interesting character, in my opinion.  Don't get me wrong.  X-O has a lot going for him, but as we all know, ninjas win out over barbarians in tech suits.  Right?

It's a fairly short read, but definitely a fun read.  It leaves off with a hook for drawing more readers in, but it can also be taken as a "one and done" trade if you just want to give the story a shot.  Certainly one that will help you relax with that cup of coffee...like the one I need to go refill.

OH! Before I leave you (and thank you all for reading to this point, I know I can prattle on), something I found interesting.  The X-O suit and the A.T.O.M. suite from the TV series Arrow look very similar.
OK, so not really...
Alright, so mostly the helmet structure, but it has seemed so similar to me since the moment I saw Brandon Routh suit up in it. Anyway, this seems the best place to leave off before I ramble into incoherence. 

Take care, well wishes, and take another sip in my honor.

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