X-O Manowar Unconquered #1 – Valiant Entertainment
Creative Team: Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, Liam Sharp and Troy Peteri
Welcome to an all new edition of Parlay Points, the comic book review blog to the ODPH Podcast by way of Nerd Initiative!
For this entry, we’re returning to the Valiant Entertainment universe, and checking out an exciting new series starring their flagship character. The last time readers had seen Aric of Dacia and his living armor Shanhara in their own series, it was 2021. Since that point, it’s been relatively quiet for the iconic character with a few exceptions.
One noteworthy showing was Aric guest appeared in the latest, mature readers only rated, BLOODSHOT: UNLEASHED series. Now 30 years after his debut, Valiant has lined up an incredible creative team to craft the latest tale. X-O MANOWAR UNCONQUERED #1 by BECKY CLOONAN, MICHAEL W. CONRAD, LIAM SHARP & TROY PETERI, looks to present a challenge unlike anything that Aric has faced before! Let’s not wait any longer and see what’s unfolding here, shall we?
*** POSSIBLE SPOILER WARNING ***
The Return Of A Flagship Character
Aric of Dacia has been a walking war machine since being introduced to readers 30 years ago in the debut of the Valiant Universe. After crossing paths with an alien race known as The Vine, Aric’s only chance to fight back and surviving, was by becoming one with a sentient suit of armor, known as Shanhara. Together, they are the powerful force known as X-O Manowar. Their escapades are the stuff of legend when talking about the Valiant Universe. Bloodshot might have a higher profile with some pop culture fans, but rest assured, there is only one franchise player at Valiant.
It All Starts Here
This story opens up with a voice narrating the latest battle involved with the heir to the Visigoth throne. Readers witness a brutal aftermath, with X-O standing tall over his enemies. Those witnessing the scene are given a decree from both Shanhara and Aric. The message is clear: The next time someone faces them both, they will be experiencing the full wrath of X-O Manowar.
This frightens one onlooker who shifts her attention to present time. She sees X-O flying in space directly into the path of a comet that is heading straight towards Earth! The conversation between Shanhara and Aric shifts dramatically, as Aric is preparing to die on this mission while Shanhara is saying how worthy Aric has been while downplaying his perceived future. At the moment of impact, Aric sees his life flash before his eyes. The explosion is huge and sends Aric spiraling.
From here, X-O crashes down on a new planet, questioning why Shanhara kept him alive. Shanhara explains the comet is more than what they thought. Aric assess the new surroundings and christens it “Scythia”. With a new home (for now), Aric looks to make the most of their time healing. However, the peace and quiet are too good to be true. What of the onlookers spying on X-O? Is Scythia too good to be true? Readers get some new information before heading into a final act with a closing image to solidify Valiant’s armored gladiator has returned in epic fashion.
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Cloonan and Conrad play heavy into the dynamic of Aric and Shanhara’s relationship. Aric comes across as challenging and unwavering, while Shanhara leans into being the encouraging voice of reason to balance the pair out. This becomes apparent once the pair lands on Scythia. After seeing his life flash before his eyes, Aric isn’t so ready to head back to Earth. At the same time, Shanhara presses him to focus on heading back and healing himself internally.
The antagonists look to help Shanhara’ case as they present the spark needed to bring Aric out of his self-loathing. The story flows very well leading into its closing moments with an exclamation point to conclude the engaging debut of X-O Manowar’s latest adventure.
It comes as no surprise, that Sharp’s art is bold, dramatic, and powerful. From the opening moments, the tone is set for the readers, hinting at how Aric’s current journey will enfold. The panel sequence dealing with the direct before and after the comet comes across as larger than life. There’s a great near-full page panel of a creature on Scythia, that gives an instant sense of danger for Aric. Moments like this give the story an extra shot of energy that, with any other artist, might not hit as hard as Sharp did. The final panel plays into the weight of the last line delivered, finishing the initial chapter off with flair.
Valiant’s King isn’t dead, long live the King! X-O Manowar Unconquered #1 holds nothing back as it reminds old and informs new readers of why Aric of Dacia and his partner armor have become an iconic pair with over thirty years of stories. Cloonan, Conrad, Sharp and the team go all in presenting the latest saga with exceptional writing and incredible art. You’re not going to want to miss this book on New Comic Book Day.
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