X-O Manowar #24 is not only part 2 of the prelude to Armor Hunters but, it’s where writer Robert Venditti shows Aric’s growth and understanding as a warrior and protector of the Visigoth people. It’s also reveals that not everything is as it appears.
Official description from VALIANT:
Who – or what – is the man called Malgam? Aric of Dacia, a fifth-century warrior bonded to alien armor and transplanted to the modern day, is now the most important weapon in the arsenal of M.E.R.O., the top-secret American intelligence organization that monitors extraterrestrial life on Earth. In order to protect his people, Aric must undergo dangerous missions in space, but nothing can prepare him for the stunning secret that awaits him in the stars!
Ever since the announcement of the Armor Hunters story line most fans of X-O have been racking their brains as to who and what the Hunters are. Venditti strips off most of the secrecy in X-O Manowar #24 but leaves enough mystery to keep you guessing. Last issue Aric was sent into space to the Vine wreckage and encounters an alien who possesses odd partial pieces of the Manowar armor and it’s clearly made him a raging beast. This is Venditti’s first take on Aric as a diplomat first and warrior second. Amazingly, Aric remains the epitome of cool under pressure and in the end the alien is not who we thought and it’s not Aric who actual takes down the aggressor.
This change in Aric, his growth, is quite a nice change of pace since Aric has always been a fighter first and his new outlook and understanding is refreshing. We also get a more in-depth look at the government division, M.E.R.O., who now have Aric under contract and not shockingly their intentions are less than honorable. Again, Venditti keeps Aric as a thinker first, killer last. And as long time readers of the series understands, Aric has been more than justified in many cases to unleash the warrior first.
Diego Bernard does a nice job here with the sci-fi space action and aliens concepts. His sensibility is more classic superhero structure and form and works beautifully in this highly stylized and alien environment. Even though Venditti has reined in Aric’s fighter mentality he hasn’t shut it down. There’s plenty of action and Bernard’s attention to detail gives it flair and drama. Fans of straight up action comics will be in for a treat.
While Aric is now more civil and diplomatic, Venditti also reminds readers that Aric is still a man out of time and still has plenty to learn. He is comfortable in space and among aliens but is at the same time astounded by running water that soldiers have installed throughout the new Visigoth camp. His wild eyed bewilderment reminds of all why Aric of Dacia is such a great character. In the end Venditti reveals who the real Armor Hunters are and leaves us with just enough information to understand that Aric may have finally met his match and that the universe is a much bigger place than we have set in our minds. The mystery he leaves us with at the end will have you itching for the start of the Armor Hunters series.
As usual, X-O Manowar #24 is a great lead-in to a bigger event and a chance for readers to feel both greatness and humility through Aric’s eyes. This issue makes the anticipation for Armor Hunters palpable and exciting. X-O Manowar continues it’s dominance as the flagship title for Valiant and with the plethora of great titles under their imprint that’s saying a lot! This whole series is worth all the time and invest in not just great superhero stories but simply great storytelling!