For anyone that want’s to start reading X-O Manowar (Valiants flagship title), Robert Venditti’s run is the perfect start. It is a brilliant revival of the character, and an awesome way for Valiant to come back to the comic book industry (along with the other titles they revived).
The first volume of Robert Venditti’s X-O Manowar run (which the story is named By The Sword) collects issues 1-4, and is a good first story arc to his entire run on the character.
The story begins in Italy 402 A.D., as we see the Visigoths fighting against the Romans in order to prevent them from taking over their land. The Romans prove to be too powerful for the Visigoths, so the Visigoths decide to retreat by order of their King (and Uncle to the primary protagonist).
Aric of Dacia (the primary protagonist of the entire X-O Manowar series and heir to the Visigoth throne) decides to disobey orders, and he (along with a few soldiers and his father) began fighting the Romans. While Aric is fighting the Romans, he see’s his father get stabbed by one of the Roman soldiers. Aric then decides to save his father, and retreat to the Visigoth camp. While at the camp, Aric’s father dies from the stab wound.
Afterwords, Aric hears news that the Romans are at the Western Barricade, and decides to join in on finding and destroying the Romans that are there in order to avenge his father. While Aric and the group of Visigoth soldiers make it to the Western Barricade, they see a transport ship and soldiers that they mistaken for the Romans. The Visigoth Soldiers and Aric attack the unknown soldiers, but end up losing due to the enemies advanced weaponry. Aric and the rest of the survivors are then taken to the transport ship and arrive at the colony ship in outer space.
Aric and another Visigoth break free and try to escape. While they are looking for a way to escape the colony ship, they see a ritual in which the beings that kidnapped them have chosen one of their own to wear “The Armor of Shanhara”. It seems to work at first, but the armor ends up killing the host. Aric and the other Visigoth are then caught by the strange beings, and are taken to a prison cell.
Two days have passed, and Aric and rest of the Visigoths have been used as slaves by the strange beings in order to work in the gardens that the colony ship has. Aric tries to fight one of the unknown beings in order to help one of his friends, but ends up getting his left hand chopped off. Years have passed since then, and Aric has made a plan from him and the other Visigoth’s to escape the colony ship. The plan works, and Aric and the Visigoth’s begin fighting their way to freedom. Aric ends up encountering “The Armor of Shanhara”, the armor beings merging with him, it looks like he dies at first, but he wakes up now wearing “The Armor of Shanhara”.
Aric easily learns how to control the armor, he starts to understand the language of the extraterrestrial beings, and his left hand grows back. While the escape seems to be going even better now that Aric is wearing the Shanhara armor, the enemy detonate some bombs that end up killing all the Visigoth’s that were with Aric. This angers Aric.
Aric does what he can to fight off the beings that kidnapped him and the Visigoth’s, but he ends up taking too much damage from the enemies power. Before it seems like he’s going to die, Aric ends up teleporting to earth (specifically Rome, Italy). The Italian government see’s Aric as a threat, so they send their army to take him down. Aric of Dacia easily defeats the soldiers. After fighting the army, Aric discovers that he’s been aboard the colony ship for 16 centuries. He then flies off to somewhere else in the hopes of finding the answers he needs. I will not spoil the ending for it’s an excellent way to set up the next volume.
Robert Venditti has done a spectacular job on redefining X-O Manowar for the modern comic book readers as he has shown that a forgotten character can be brought back in the best way possible.
The art by Cary Nord is very detailed and fits the story well.
Robert Venditti writes Aric of Darcia as a very human character as the readers can sympathize with him as he has lost what he truly cared about. Which is why I think that Robert Venditti is a very good writer to be writing this character. He’s also done a great job on making X-O Manowar a truly awesome and memorable character that will be remembered in the comic book industry.
Robert Venditti’s run on X-O Manowar is a series that should never be missed, and X-O Manowar Volume 1: By The Sword is a good start. If your a fan of the old X-O Manowar series, a fan of the old Valiant comics in general, or someone that never read any Valiant comic, please start reading Robert Venditti’s X-O Manowar. You won’t be disappointed.
I give Robert Venditti’s X-O Manowar Volume 1 5/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Up.