The definition of Valiant is “possessing or showing courage or determination. Acting with bravery or boldness”. There are not a lot of characters in comics who fit that description better than Aric of Dacia, better known as XO Manowar. Back in 2012 XO Manowar was the flagship comic for Valiant Entertainment reintroducing us to the Visigoth warrior.
In 402 AD Aric of Dacia, heir to the Visigoth throne, was abducted by an alien race known as The Vine alongside his fellow warriors. They were made slaves and put to work in their gardens. The Vine worshipped a suit of armor known as the Armor of Shanhara which has instantly killed anyone who dare attempt to wear it. Aric gained possession of the armor during a prison break and used it to destroy his oppressors. Being the lone survivor he returned to Earth only to find out that 16 centuries had passed.
This is only the tip of Aric’s story as we follow him through an ever growing world of violence, mystery, victory and defeat. Robert Venditti’s writing shows great growth in the character as he starts out as a young, brash warrior into a leader and a friend. Making connections with other characters in the Valiant universe such as The Erternal Warrior and Ninjak. This run is also one of the few comics in Valiant that have made it to 50 issues as most only average 25 issues in their run.
Earlier this month Valiant released the start of a new XO series written by Matt Kindt. We find our hero on the planet Gorin, beareded and weary. This right off the bat is a very different Aric than we’ve seen in the passed. Instead of on a battlefield leading an attack with an inspiring call to arms he appears to be farming. We do not know how he ended up on this planet but only the why. After so many years of violence, blood and death his only wish was to spend the rest of his days knowing peace and happiness. Unfortunately for Aric he is forced back into battle, fighting someone else’s war much like the Romans did to his people so many centuries before. What is also made clear is that the relationship between Aric and the Armor of Shanhara is very strained. The armor, a living, sentient object, is treated brutishly and harshly as opposed to the past where it and Aric worked as one.
The combination of Matt Kindt’s writing and Thomas Giorello’s art, XO Manowar #1 is alot darker and grimmer than the previous Robert Venditti run. Giving us something different and yet very much familiar as the adventures of Aric of Dacia continues. Valiant also continues its promise since 2012 and putting great stories first.