The return of Valiant is finally here, and with X-O Manowar spear heading the charge, things are looking very bright! As with any good introduction (or reintroduction) to a character, this issue sets up nice and gives old and new fans something worth reading. The story begins in 402 AD as the Romans and Visigoths prepare for battle. Amidst overwhelming odds, Aric convinces the Visigoth army to push and fight on. However, the Romans aren’t going to go down easily, and they push even harder. Things go bad and Aric ends up leading a search party later on to rescue his people. Though, instead of finding Romans to kill, they run into an extra terrestrial threat that is a lot more deadly.
As far as the story goes, Venditti starts establishing Aric right off as a fierce and dedicated warrior. He wants his people safe, and will take the fight to anyone or anything that is standing in the way of that. Though he seems a little hot headed and undisciplined, Venditti still pulls him off as a likeable character that doesn’t wear out his welcome too early. There’s a very interesting and yet creepy subplot in the story that adds yet another layer to the story. This makes the aliens come off a lot more sinister and gives their motives a bit more weight and mystery.
With Cary Nord’s art you get some nice visuals to help move the story along from start to finish. The huge battle in the beginning is brutal and fast, but it’s the detail in the expressions that pull this off. The art is just as good when the story shifts towards the sci-fi elements. Nothing is lost and the transitions are seamless between the two parts of the story.
If you were looking for Aric to don the armor and start kicking all kinds of butt in this issue, than you are going to be a little disappointed. However, there is a very good foundation being laid out here, and the set up just makes things a little more exciting. So, if you were asking yourself if you should you give X-O Manowar a chance, than the answer is definitely yes.