Synopsis: Aric of Earth has been placed in a war he wanted no part of. Conscripted, he must face alien hordes to return to the woman that he loves. Unfortunately, things are not that simple. War is Aric’s lifeblood, and he is great at waging it. The decks are stacked against him, and the suicide mission he was sent on…well, it is actually a suicide mission. Surely, Aric will call on Shanhara to quickly dispatch his enemies. Wait. He is not doing that anymore? And you say he has people to protect from dire odds? Things are about to get complicated.
Review: Simply put, X-O is one of the greatest things Valiant has going for itself. Both the art and the story are phenomenal. When the premise of a series is that a man dons a techno/mystical suit of armor to do battle, hates it, and he refuses to use it; the series has to be stellar. This is what X-O Manowar #3 is. Seeing our protagonist without his invincible armor makes his battles all the more dire, and it completely works for the series. The internal struggle of Aric refraining from using the armor is reminiscent of a person dealing with a doomed drug addiction. The reader knows that he will eventually give way to his desires, but seeing them get to that point is where the real story resides. Every issue, I wait to see if this is the moment where Aric returns to the armor as an ally or a crutch.
Dynamic. This is the only way to describe the art for issue #3. The opening pages are gorgeous, and they contrast the rest of the book beautifully. Aric interpreting the Cadmium society is just breathtaking. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the story, but because it does not fit, it fits perfectly. Those opening pages are engrained in the collective minds of readers, but the narration takes those images to reinvent them. The rest of the book is as gorgeous and impressive as always. The series continues to outdo itself issue by issue.
Series by series, Valiant continues to deliver books that really swing for the fences. They don’t do this by churning out gimmicky books. They produce engaging and gorgeous stories that never fail to entertain. We are only into issue #3 of this series, and I already think it should be snatching awards left in right. I am awaiting with bated breath to see what comes next.