Issue 18 of Valiant’s X-O Manowar is a direct lead up to next month’s Unity event. X-O Manowar is the book that launched the Valiant universe reboot. After a year and a half, the book is still going strong. With consistent pencils and coloring, this comic is a critical darling. The story, which jumps around in time, follows a Visigoth prince from 402 A.D. named Aric Dacia. His people are fighting for their survival against the Roman Legions when an alien race known as The Vine abducts him and many of his fellow Visigoth warriors. They’re kept as slaves whose purpose is to manage the Vine garden/birthing room on board a bio ship. Aric manages to revolt and successfully escapes his captors with the use of The Vine’s sacred living weapon known as the X-O Manowar armor. When Aric returns to Earth, the type of travel and space time results in his arriving 1,600 years after his birth in modern time.
The entire introductory story happens in the first few issues of X-O Manowar. Where the story is at now, Aric has had run in’s with the modern Earth military and many of the other characters in the Valiant universe. Now the world’s militaries are after the armor and Aric’s heroism has resulted in him being king of Vine slaves rescued from the Vine home world.
With political interests and greed for the alien armor, Russia sends Special Forces to the new kingdom. Their mission is to do anything possible to obtain the X-O Manowar armor, and to kill Aric’s people. The action is as high as the tension in this book. Many of Aric’s people, although grateful for rescue, are unhappy with the new King. The Russians use a submarine as a diversion to draw the man and his armor away from protecting his people. This is what he has feared and what his people have complained about. There is a possibility of asking America for protection but Aric refuses. He does not want to abandon his land in modern Romania or his people. Near the end of the book, Harada, a powerful psychic from the Valiant book Harbinger makes an interesting appearance that is sure to be connected to Unity.
Robert Venditti weaves an interesting action story with a grand historical perspective. Venditti has been the writer of this comic since the beginning. This issue is given its cinematic feel by Lee Garbett and colorist Moose Baumann. Garbett’s resume spans DC and Marvel books but he’s probably best known for Dark Mists or his work on several Batman titles. He was just announced as the penciler for the upcoming Marvel Now! Book Loki: Agent of Asgard.
Valiant is proving their mettle month by month, and this book is no exception. Based purely on this story as a lead in, Unity should be a terrific comic event. There are preview pages after the solicit that will give you a good idea of what this book looks like. Please let me know what you think of the preview pages in the comments or via Twitter @MarkAvo. Whether you’re a Valiant fan like I am or not, I’d love to hear from you.
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Lee Garbett
Cover Artist: Clayton Crain
Valiant 8-Bit Level Two Variant Cover: Donovan Santiago
Publication Date: October 16, 2013
Price & Page Count: $3.99/T+/32 pgs.