This issue is not out yet. That’s what makes writing for PopcultHQ so damn fun; the ability to see material before the general public so I can bring it to you first!
Let me first start by saying X-O Man-O-War was one of my favorite series from the original Valiant Comics. The current series is good too but I’m a hard stickler when it comes to my Valiant characters, although the new incarnations really do hold true to their original counterparts. X-O has been an interesting book which took the original theme of the first series, stuck to the bare skeleton of the origin and then ran in a completely different direction. For the most part, it’s been really stellar!
The series is going to see it’s 36th issue published very soon. The current story arc is called “Dead Hand” and it features the fallout from last year’s “Armor Hunters.” The Armor Hunters believed that sentient armors such as X-O’s Man-o-War class armor have been responsible for spreading an intergalactic plague from planet to planet. Their mission has been to hunt down and destroy all the X-O armors as well as their hosts. Needless to say they failed at the cost of their own lives. However Aric has discovered the hunters have left behind a contingency plan called ‘Dead Hand’ which is an army of robot drones bent on one mission: complete the Armor Hunter’s task!
The Dead Hand attacked Loam, the home world of the Spider-Aliens who created the X-O armor. Aric has come to an understanding with the inhabitants of the planet and shows up to lend his assistance to save them but found himself completely outnumbered. The Dead Hand causes the planet’s sun to go nova and Loam is destroyed. With an entire race driven from their planet, Aric in a desperate effort teams with other X-O Man-o-War hosts to build an army of X-Os to go after and destroy the Dead Hand.
What we really see interesting in this issue is how Robert Vinditti expands the X-O mythos by having other armors out there in existence but yet they are all the same. The Armor Hunters have upset a delicate balance and Aric is becoming aware of the extent of his armor’s place in the universe. He and the armor, Shanharra as it is named, mentally bond and thus have a meeting of the minds with many other X-O armors. When Aric asks to speak with he who speaks for them all, they inform him that they are one and so shall he be one of them one day and instead of calling the armor Shanharra they call him “Armor of the Name Aric.”
It becomes clear that the signal Aric received from the Armors was not a battle cry but a warning to evade the machine planet. The Dead Hand are fast approaching Earth and plan to sterilize the planet just like they did Loam. Aric wants the armors to fight by his side. They see themselves as being smart and avoiding the Dead Hand but Aric calls them cowards! Aric tells them a tale of his Visgoth days of when his people ran to avoid the Huns but by doing so also ran right into the Romans and became enslaved for years.
This is one of the aspects I always loved about X-O Man-O-War, the whole man out of time bit. He’s Aric of Dacia, a Viking Visigoth from 408 AD; abducted by aliens and who escaped with their prized possession, the X-O armor and because of faster than light travel found himself in the modern world. The parallels he sometimes draws in showing how the world has only changed on the outside but yet remains the same within. Aric lives by his own code which, if has ever been shown and tested, is indeed in this issue.
As Aric learns one armor speaks for all and all armors speak for one… Aric also finds he is able to rally the armors as they tell him “One and All will fight.” With his new army of armors, Aric of Dacia stops the Dead Hand just outside of orbit of the planet of Mars as X-O Man-o-War lays down the gauntlet for what can only be an amazing epic battle next issue!
This series is simply stellar! The writing from Robert Venditti (who you should know from The Flash over at DC) and the art of Diego Bernard (who has been drawing Red Lanterns for some time for DC as well) just bring this story to a three dimensional light! If you’re not reading X-O Man-O-War, you damn well better start! Grab issue #36 this Wednesday… you’re already up to speed! Read X-O Man-O-War #36 preview here.