With the exception of the marketing dollars and attention poured into Bloodshot as of late with the movie and all, there have been few series better promoted than the long-awaited return of Valiant's X-O Manowar. This time around, Dennis "Hopeless" Hallum and Emilio Laiso take the reins on this cult classic character and blast him off into the stratosphere. The team wastes no time at all in bringing the action and it's a welcome sight from the beginning. When it comes to Valiant reboots, there wasn't a bigger pair of shoes to fill than those left by Matt Kindt departing X-O Manowar just this time last year. Lucky for long time fans of the character, Hallum's off to one hell of a (re)start here.
It's instantly apparent Hallum brings a Taika Waititi-esque approach to the character and this particular corner of the Valiant universe. Visually, X-O Manowar has a much different look than say, Thor: Ragnarok, but a similar charm and humor are there, something that instantly makes this book a must-read—at least according to this particular reviewer.
When you get into stories about Aric and his all-powerful space armor, there's a thin line to walk between giving him a convincingly difficult opponent that challenges the duo or a plot that sees the character grow dull as an immortal demigod. Though this story lacks an obvious antagonist for most of its duration, Hallum introduces some plot devices that force the character to take on a more human demeanor. Sure, there are teases of a big baddie scattered throughout, but other tidbits—like Manowar taking on police brutality and a little tease of railing against corporate greed—prove to be storylines that are both more interesting than an immovable object versus an unstoppable force tale and a force that makes Aric more human and, thus, more relatable.
While remaining a sci-fi, alien-fighting book at heart, this creative team injects a very real, Earth-bound feeling into this series debut that's very appreciated. Pardon the corporate buzzword, but there's no way around it—the creative team on X-O Manowar exhibits perfect synergy that allows the series' premiere to cement itself as one of Valiant's best debuts of late. There's no question Hallum has an excellent grasp on Aric and Shanhara, something greatly complemented by Laiso's excellent line art and the incredibly clean colors of Ruth Redmond. This book is also a testament to the versatility and range Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou brings to the table—two Valiant series in one week with polar-opposite lettering styles, and that's not to mention even the top-shelf quality work the up-and-coming letterer puts in issue after issue. X-O Manowar #1 is nothing short of beautiful and serves as the fitting—and very welcome, might I add—return of a classic Valiant superhero.
Published by Valiant Comics
On March 25, 2020
Written by Dennis "Hopeless" Hallum
Art by Emilio Laiso
Colors by Ruth Redmond
Letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover by Christian Ward