Science fiction, superheroes
Adults, teens, older kids; violence
This book collects the first four issues of X-O Manowar.
Aric, a Visigoth picked up by aliens some 2,000 years ago and
kept in stasis until recently, battles spider-creatures inside
a space ship. He finds an exoskeleton that gives him great power;
he uses it to kill more creatures and blow up the space ship,
after which he plummets to Earth, landing in Peru. Friendly villagers
take him in, though he cannot speak their language. Mysterious
people, kin to the spider-creatures, try to track him so they
can retrieve the armor. They manage to do quite a bit of damage
to the villagers and steal the armor, though Aric retains the
ring that gives him control over the armor. Wounded, he is tended
by Ken, an effeminate man who helps him leave Peru and reach
the United States in quest of the armor. Ken ostensibly works
for the humanoid aliens, but, conceiving an affection for Aric,
he betrays his employers just as they are about to ambush Aric.
Aric is now close enough to the armor to summon it to him, and
he battles as Ken is wounded, losing part of his left arm.
The warrior takes Ken to a doctor's house, but while she tends
him the aliens attack again, capturing Ken and making a mess
of the house. Aric spends a night recuperating, then follows
the suit's instructions and tracks Ken to the aliens' hideout.
Attempting to trick Aric, the aliens pretend to be surrendering
royalty so that he will be caught off guard, but he is not tricked
and blows everyone away.
Ken now finds himself as head of the aliens' worldwide corporation
and vows to use its resources to destroy the invaders. Meanwhile,
Aric is slowly learning English and wants to go home, which is
impossible. Then he is attacked by Sniper, an agent of Toyo Harada,
a wealthy human who is also fighting the aliens but has a hidden
agenda as well. Realizing that Aric is human, Harada rushes into
the fight in time to prevent Aric from killing Sniper. Harada
and Ken arrange a kind of summit meeting in New Orleans during
Mardi Gras, where the two sides promise not to oppose one another.
Meanwhile, a team of young superheroes target Aric and Ken because
they appear to have ties to Harada.
Given the names associated with this title--Shooter and Layton--it's
no surprise that I found it dull, cliched, and derivative. Plenty
of battles and explosions but little genuine character development
or even believable personality traits. One wonders if the writers
felt terribly daring, making one of the main supporting characters
gay. They didn't do a very credible job with him. And Aric is
just awful, a one-dimensional idiot little better than the "savage"
that the aliens consider him to be. One would assume, for example,
that he knows what blood is, yet he constantly refers to both
his and aliens' blood as "juice." Also, in a typical
example of the shoddy research conducted by many comic writers,
the Visigoth Aric swears by the god Lugh, a Celtic god.
(I won't even go into how the Visigoths didn't exist until the
3rd century CE; I'll assume the aliens didn't keep precise records
of when they picked Aric up.) The appearance of superheroes in
the fourth chapter is jarring, as the world gives no indication
that such beings exist. I guess old Marvel guys like Shooter
and Layton can't write science fiction without tossing some superheroes
into the mix.
Anyway, this absolutely mediocre title is out of print and
hardly worth a search except by Shooter/Layton/Windsor-Smith
fans. I've seen it for sale at one or two online comics stores,
if you must get it.