Review: ‘X-O Manowar’ #10
Yes. Yes, I watched Cowboys And Aliens. Sure, the narrative had its faults. I can’t rightly say that it was a good movie, but the high concept and the talent on both sides of the camera were enough to keep my butt in the seat for two hours or so. Besides, how many chances will Hollywood give us to see Indiana Jones team up with James Bond?
And as surely as I would watch Cowboys And Aliens, I would read Germanic Tribesmen And Aliens, which, after you strip away all its science fictional and comic book trappings, is exactly what X-O Manowar is. For those who might not know, X-O Manowar is the story of Aric, a Visigoth prince who is abducted by aliens for use as slave labor. Aric escapes with the aid of the sentient Manowar armor. He returns to Earth to discover that sixteen hundred years have passed, thanks to faster-than-light space travel and pesky time dilation.
While I wouldn’t know the first thing about Visigoths if not for Wikipedia, writer Robert Venditti and artist Trevor Hairsine reveal Aric of Dacia’s past and present convincingly enough that you’ll believe in the the character’s burning hatred of the Romans and the alien Vine, as well as in the sincerity of his friendship.
Issue #10, a prelude to next month’s “Planet Death” event, finds Aric fighting the alien Trill, one of the Vine in possession of the X-O Commando armor. Trill’s armor is hopelessly outmatched by Aric’s, like a kid whose mom sends him to school with Hydrox cookies in his lunchbox when all the other moms sent Oreos. Knowing he’s otherwise beaten, Trill reveals that Aric’s best childhood friend Gafti is still alive and uses him as leverage in hopes of acquiring the Manowar armor. The conflict that follows, along with its twists, provides a reasonable catalyst for Aric’s upcoming invasion of the Vine homeworld.
Trevor Hairsine conveys emotion though his illustrations, even in the midst of scenes depicting intense combat, and he contributes a few artistic flourishes to the story, such as changing the design of the Manowar armor subtly depending upon its host. His scratchy line work is perfect for drawing Germanic tribesmen, but might not be the best fit for drawing aliens, especially for those used to seeing them rendered in sometime-X-O artist Cary Nord’s clean lines.
The story is great fun, even in moments when it’s not quite coherent. The character Alexander Dorian is apparently important, at least according to the inside cover recap page, but he appears across a few panels without ever receiving an appropriate introduction. Likewise, the motivation behind the Vine invasion of Earth is never clearly explained, although alien invasions seldom are, whether destined to be stopped by Visigoths or by cowboys.