When the pandemic hit last spring, I remember purchasing X-O Manowar #1 for no better reason than I was desperate for something to read while new comics were on hold. It was not the greatest book on the racks, but it wasn’t the worst either. As the virus continued to mandate shut-downs and played havoc with the comic book publishing schedule, I continued to read the series mainly because, again… it wasn’t terrible. I’ve never felt like the series was the best superhero book on the market, or even the best version of X-O Manowar to hit store shelves, but it’s entertaining enough to keep me from becoming disinterested, and that’s more than I can say about the majority of comic books being published today.
One of the problems in this series is the extended cast around Aric of Dacia. Since Aric is now for some reason living in New York City, he’s making friends with street-wise kids who “talk tough” like characters in a Disney Channel Original Movie and hang out with a homeless guy who pushes a shopping cart full of garbage while talking to himself, but can also fix just about any kind of gas powered vehicle and machine. These feel like the characters found in the 1990’s explosion of superhero films and tv shows written by people who never read comic books, but think they understand them regardless. Considering that Dennis Hopeless (Spider-Woman, Cable and X-Force) is the writer behind it all, I’m somewhat shocked at how bad they are. (Although to be completely honest, I would argue that his being a part of the era of All-New X-Men is among the worst of the X-Men to ever exist, but that’s also partly to blame on Brian Michael Bendis.)
At the same time, the actual story is entertaining. As Aric struggles to be a hero in a era the doesn’t appreciate a guy who can pulverize any enemy into dust without things like due process and considering collateral damage, he’s approached by a billionaire genius who not only knows how to amp up the armor with his own nanites, but can also help Aric navigate the tricky world of Public Relations. Of course Aric isn’t interested, but when his latest attempt to stop a third-world warlord from causing genocide and massive destruction still leads to massive destruction, Aric has to join with him even though little is known about this man. This new ally could lead to bigger problems down the road, but there really isn’t much of a choice for the former warrior turned general turned emperor turned superhero.
The art is fine and serviceable, though I feel it gets a little too cartoony at times. In the end, it makes for a book that is… okay.
It’s all right.
It’s not terrible.
It’s better than most other books on the shelves these days.