chris207's X-O Manowar #1 - Retribution Part 1: Into The Fire review

X-O Manowar Part 1: X-O Manowar #1

X-O Manowar #1 (February, 1992)

Aric finds freedom from his Spider-Alien captors with the help of a Map-Giver and a Good-Skin.

We meet Aric of Dacia as he attempts to escape from what turns out to be an alien spaceship. His plan: to find a thing he can use as a weapon against the “hard-skins” (Spider-Aliens) located in a room he has to get to by using a map carved into his hand. Aric makes it to the room and finds the thing…an object too heavy to wield and not sharp enough to use.

Faced with oncoming hard-skins, Aric does the only thing he can – pull on the ring the Map-Giver told him about. When he does, the thing surrounds his body and protects him from their “fire-light” (laserfire). Realizing the thing in his possession is a “good-skin”, Aric tears the ship apart, killing every hard-skin in his way. The spaceship explodes, and Aric crash lands in . He takes off the Good-Skin and wanders to the nearest village, where he finds food, shelter, friends and a potential mate in a young woman named M’rrha (Maria).

Aric is invited to visit the local town and accepts hoping he’ll find a wizard who can help him find his way home. He spends half the day looking for a wizard without success when someone from his village finds Aric and tells him there’s trouble. Aric runs back to the village but arrives too late to save anyone or fight any hard-skins. He finds Maria’s head on a pike and gets a message from the hard-skins telling him that they have the armor, and want him to leave the ring behind and walk away. Seeing this as proof that the hard-skins fear him, Aric leaves the village and heads north, the direction the Good-Skin tells him it is located.

On his journey, Aric kills several hard-skins using modern weaponry (guns), but gets ambushed in another city and is bitten. The good news is that the bite isn’t lethal. The bad news is that he’s wounded. Fortunately he meets K’nn (Ken); a man Aric is convinced is a wizard because he bandages Aric’s wound and gives him a place to sleep. The next day, K’nn and Aric fly to and are ambushed by an army of hard-skins soon after they land. Aric gets pinned down, and calls for the Good-Skin to come to him…which it does. Reunited, they make short work of the hard-skin army, and Aric comes to realize that they are no match for him and his Good-Skin.

Notes of Interest:

1) Aric has an aptitude for learning languages. During his time as a prisoner, he learned some of the Spider-Aliens’ language. He also picked up some of Maria’s language during his short time in , and could tell differences between the languages of the two hookers.

2) This is not the first time Aric attempted to escape, but he succeeds here in part because the Spider-Aliens are distracted by something else happening outside the ship.

3) Aric understands homosexuality and can tell Ken is one, but it doesn’t bother him because they “make good wizards”.

4) He loves weapons and battle, but hates guns.

5) He hates cities, but seems comfortable in airplanes.

6) Aric never shaved his beard in his life until Ken does it to help disguise him on their way to New York, which means Aric let Ken shave his beard.

7) He’s very loyal, saving Ken’s life and fighting to protect him during the battle at the airport simply for helping him get there.

8) While Aric is quick to learn things, the X-O Armor doesn’t come with a manual, so he struggles to get it to do what he wants.

9) For the whole issue, Aric believes he’s only been held captive for ten days and yet…

WTF? Moment: …Aric assumes he’s on his home planet. He was so focused on destroying the ship that he never realized he was in space. Once the ship was destroyed, the X-O Armor put him on the closest planet because he told it to, and it just happened to be Earth. It was blind luck that Aric wasn’t halfway across the galaxy when he escaped.

WTF? Moment #2: Why does Aric ditch the armor when he lands? He walks off in snow, naked, heading in some direction. Was he in shock from the battle? No, because he’s been in many battles by this point, this was just one of a different type. Was he in shock from the entire alien experience? Maybe. He kept it together while on the ship, and once he was on solid ground again he could have felt overwhelmed. But he must have been cold…cold enough to need the Good-Skin for warmth if nothing else.

WTF? Moment #3: This is the first Valiant comic I ever read and I love everything about it. The Windsor-Smith/Layton/Holdredge art, plus the added goodness of Shooter’s overall attempt to recreate Stan Lee’s success at Marvel by having one guy write every title so they all share the same tone. This issue didn’t just make me an X-O Manowar fan; it made me a Valiant Comics fan.

WTF? Moment #4: My only complaint is that I can’t read Spanish…despite a whole year of it back in middle school and a semester of it years later in college. I have no idea what’s said during Aric’s time in and I’m too damn lazy to buy a Spanish-English dictionary.



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