When X-O Manowar was relaunched, it seemed like your classic man-out-of-time scenario. As the series progressed, and even more so in this volume, it seems like a man-out-of-his-element story more than anything else. It is just not time itself, that Aric is out of sorts with, it is everything. People, places, customs, technology, and even the well-being of his own people are things that he cannot seem to get accustomed to, much less understand.
After freeing his people, and all of the others that were on the ship from the Vine, Aric has decided to take them home to Earth and to Dacia. The problem is that Dacia no longer exists and is now instead Romania. That problem does not matter to Aric though, as he believes the country is rightfully his and that of his people. So before the eyes of the world, Aric lands the Vine ship and stakes out a piece of land for their own, and no one and nothing will stop him, including Gilad Ani-Pada, the Eternal Warrior.
One of the better qualities that Aric exhibits in the book is the stubbornness and hard-headedness that comes with his being a barbarian. Much like Conan or the Warlord, he will alway try to do the right thing, or what he perceives it to be, and cannot be swayed from his course. To him, he is only looking to claim what was stolen from him long ago. His people need a home, as does he and he will not be swayed from his course. Sadly, the world does not agree with him, most especially Russia, and he is in for another long fight. It is a good thing that Aric enjoys being in battle almost more than anything else.
Robert Venditti has been doing an admirable job with our barbarous hero. He has given Aric many layers to his personality that have made him one of the most complex men the Valiant universe has yet offered up. He is the king and the frightened boy, the steadfast leader and the indecisive man underneath, he is friend and foe and many other things and all of them expertly delineated by Venditti. He has also placed him in a multitude of situations to test him on many different levels, some of which he passes and some of which he does not.
This volume was not as exciting as previous books in the series, but the battle between Aric and Gilad was quite thrilling to watch. It was also interesting to see the history between the two men and how it dated back to Aric’s time in Dacia with his uncle, taking lessons in both swordplay and growing into manhood. It is quite funny that while they battle, Gilad is still trying to impart knowledge to Aric as if he is still the student and Gilad, the master.
Some people might think of X-O as Conan in an Iron Man suit, and perhaps, to some extent they are right, but X-O is far more than that. He is a man who was put into an extraordinary position, one no other human had experienced previously, and gained a suit of armour the likes of which had never been seen before. He is also just a man trying to make it in today’s world, the same as anyone else. If you have never read X-O Manowar, do yourself a favour and do so as it is just one more great title being put out by Valiant and company.
4 out of 5