X-O Manowar 1-3
Writer: Dennis ‘Hopeless’ Hallum
Artist: Emilio Laiso
Colors: Ruth Redmond
Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Covers: Jeff Dekal, Rod Reis, Greg Smallwood, Rau҆l Alle҆n; Christian Ward; Netho Diaz w/Candice Han; Daniel Warren Johnson w/ Mike Spicer
Editors: Drew Baumgartner; Heather Antos; Robert Meyers
X-O Manowar Created by Jim Shooter; Steve Englehart; Boy Layton and Barry Windsor Smith
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Let me preface this by saying that I have never read a single previous iteration of X-O Manowar. I came into this with no preconceived notions about the book so I cannot compare it to what came before.
With that out the way, let’s get to it.
Right out the gate these first three issues of X-O Manowar addresses one of the ongoing themes of comic books/movies in recent years: the fallout of the battles for the non-combatants. Who takes care of the property damage? What are the actual consequences of going off on your own with no oversight? How do heroics translate into your day to day living?
Aric of Dacia and his sentient armor Shanhara would be having problems adjusting under normal circumstances frankly, but take the fact that Aric isn’t even from this century and Shanhara isn’t from this galaxy they’re having a harder time than most. When you come from a time period before the internet or think in almost pure logic, navigating the sociopolitical climate of the U.S. alone, much less global politics, is a shiteshow in the making.
When you add in the ongoing police brutality against everyone but specifically against BIPOC and well… let’s just say things get heated. Quickly.
Dennis Hallum crafts an engaging, smart and darkly funny story that gives you all the flash of a standard superhero comic while weaving in, seamlessly, social commentary in a way that is totally organic. Frankly this comic feels like a balm to my soul after the MCUs hamfisted, plot and logic hole ridden black/white look at how politics work in the modern world.
It seems so simple to say and yet it bears repeating both in the real world and the world of comics/films: Don’t go into other people’s countries without knowing what the political situation is, punch things then leave thinking that’s going to solve anything. It won’t. At best you’ve left destruction in your wake. At worst you’ve left a power vacuum that will likely be filled in by something far worse.
Aric and Shanhara learn this the hard way and the fallout for those they’ve slowly come to think of as family comes swiftly and brutally.
The artwork by Emilio Laiso, Ruth Redmond and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou is absolutely fantastic, some of the best I’ve seen in awhile. Each page is full of detail. Every character, whether background or main, is fully formed. The battles are dynamic and fun while still giving a sense of real danger. Even the lettering plays a huge part in how the story is told.
Honestly? This book is a delight. I’m ready for more.
5 Monitors out of 5