This issue starts off as a bang as we travel back to 382 A.D. and see Alaric (Aric's uncle) beating down some Roman scum. It's a pretty intense was to open up the book, and it's always great to see bits and pieces of Aric's childhood, or even early adulthood, in the opening of these issues. Each opening gives us insight to who Aric is and always has a great connection to the rest of the issue.
Aric and the Visigoths are trapped in Camp Sigma Detention Center after they went to war and tried to claim a piece of their land for their own. This is an incredibly moving issue because X-O MANOWAR is the story of a man who had everything, lost it, got it all back, and lost it again. Aric is trapped in the vicious circle and no matter what he does, he seems to find himself back at square one. He wants to protect his people, but at this point, he has zero power to do so, but he continues to struggle. Aric is a completely compelling character, in the long run, and writer Robert Venditti really proves that with this issue.
The art is split up between three different people, but it really works here. The opening scene, featuring Aric as a child, was drawn by Trevor Hairsine. The rest of the book was drawn by Cary Nord and Vincente Fuentes. Normally, more than one artist on a book kinda stinks because style conflict, but in this case it works because there's a jump in time and both portray different feelings. Nord's art makes the scenes feel a bit more of a downer because of some of his shading work and the way he places characters in the frame. This is the way multiple artists should be done.
The only real problem with this issue is the coloring. During the opening pages, where we see Aric with his father, the colors work. They're soft and reflect the innocence of Aric. While the art changes for the rest of the book, the color doesn't, and it really doesn't fit with the art nor reflect the feeling or tone of the story. It's too soft and light for a story about a man and his people imprisoned by a whole government.
The issue moves incredibly fast. It was over before I knew it.
X-O MANOWAR is still has awesome as ever. Although an issue dealing with the main character stuck in a detention center, all issue, may not seem like your cup of tea, Venditti provides a fantastic narrative and actually does a nice job at catching up new readers without the book coming off like 20 pages of exposition. I'm excited for the future of this book, even though Aric is not in control of the armor. This is a Valiant "must read."