TITLE: X-O Manowar vol. 1, Issue #1
YEAR: February 1992
COMPANY: Valiant Comics
Writer: Jim Shooter and Steve Englehart
Layouts: Barry Windsor-Smith
Finished Art: Bob Layton with John Holdredge
Colorist: Jorge Gonzalez
Editor: D. David Perlin
In 1992, then Valiant Editor-in-Chief and also writer Jim Shooter and artist Bob Layton created X-O Manowar.
One of the successful titles of Valiant Comics, the original series ran for 68 issues. Until Valiant Comics was purchased by Acclaim Comics and a new volume was created and would last from 1997-1999.
In 2008, a newly formed Valiant Entertainment released a new “X-O Manowar” that has been ongoing since 2012.
While I haven’t read many of the newer Valiant Entertainment comic book series, I recently went through my Valiant Comics collection from the ’90s and read issue #1.
The series revolved around a man named Aric of Dacia who was a Visigoth (western branches of the nomadic tribes of the Germanic people that flourished and spread throughout the late Roman Empire in Late Antiquity and invaded the Roman Empire in the beginning in 376 AD). He witnessed the slaughter of his parents at the hands of Roman soldiers and has dedicated himself to destroying the Romans.
But one day, he saw demons attacking his tribe and as he tried to fight back, he was subdued and taken aboard their alien spacecraft.
With issue #1, it focuses on Aric’s escape from the alien space craft which he had been stuck in for seven years. But because the spacecraft has been traveling at the sped of light, sixteen centuries and now when he manages to escape the alien spacecraft and the insect aliens (which he calls “hardskins”), he escapes with a ring and a suit (which he calls “Softskin”).
While he keeps the ring, he doesn’t want anything to do with the alien suit and ditches it and ends up somewhere in a desert of dark-skin people.
Meanwhile, a group who knows Aric has the ring take the discarded suit but now wants the X-O ring and will do anything to get it back.
Because Aric is not educated (and comes from a different era), the people who want the armor think they’ll be fine as Aric is too dumb to figure out how to use the ring, let alone live in modern society.
But how will Aric fare in this new era that he has been thrust into? And deal with the aliens that are after him?
Back when Valiant was released, one of my favorite titles to read was X-O Manowar. I felt the stories were well-written and the series was everything that Marvel Comics’ Iron Man was not.
The armor is an alien skin that wraps around Aric and the protagonist is a person that was born in possibly 320 AD during the time the Goth’s were at war with the Romans.
What makes this first issue so interesting is the primitive thoughts that go on in Aric’s mind. For example, when he first sees humans who happen to be dark-skinned (he is somewhere in Central America or Mexico), his thoughts are “give me my food, if you don’t, I will kill you”. Of course, these people welcome the naked man with food.
Unfortunately, not long as he steps out of the village, those looking for the X-O Ring kill everyone in the village.
Not knowing how to deal with this new modern society, he is befriend by a gay man (who happens to be working with the enemy). But the two strike an odd friendship and the man ends up helping Aric in his quest to escape from the aliens that are after him….so, he thinks.
Again, I don’t know how much has changed between the X-O Manowar of the past and the current present but I could tell you that back in the ’90s, “X-O Manowar” was a title that I always hoping to pickup and it was not easy back then as print-runs were so low. And when Valiant became popular, these issues became very difficult to find.
But definitely one of the more memorable comic book series that I read in the ’90s.