I was at the Valiant Summit on Monday and got into an interesting conversation with Warren Simons, Editor-in-Chief of Valiant and Stacy, manager of the Comic Factory in Pasadena, CA. We talked about what made Valiant different from companies like Marvel Comics (where Simons worked previously). The big take away from the conversation was that Valiant writes about characters while Marvel is more focused on events and shocks.
A good example of that is the new X-O Manowar series from Matt Kindt and Tomas Giorello. Last year the company wrapped up a 50 issue run by writer Robert Venditti that featured Aric getting married. Fast forward to March of this year, which Valiant plans to do big launches in March from now on, with Shadowman being next… the new X-O Manowar series kicks off with Aric now on the planet Gorin (a nod to Valiant VP Hunter Gorinson maybe?) where he's living a life as a farmer, with a new woman and the suit buried. He is drug into the planets war and forced to fight, which he does very well. But he doesn't use the suit, it's all him. And the fact he survives in a battle that everyone was expected to die in brings him to the attention of the officers…
As the second issue kicks off with Aric being given a team and another suicide mission. This time to infiltrate the enemy base, take down their shields and knock out the communication tower. Aric starts by changing the mission parameters, knowing the Captain Branix (who is worried about Aric's abilities) has set them up to fail. We see Aric's cunning and his use of the X-O suit in a limited fashion. The issue continues the growth of Aric within the soldier rank… which is what this arc is called, Soldier. From the Summit we learned that each arc will follow his path up the ranks.
Kindt is taking Aric in a very different and more violent direction. This is the story of the man without the armor, the hero / soldier / warrior that becomes a leader and a legend. I said this when I reviewed the first issue, there is a serious Conan vibe going on here and it's worth turning into. It works. And I don't mean a Sword & Sorcery feeling, I mean the rising of a warrior from nothing to King. The art of Giorello helps with that as it is on par with what Cary Nord was doing when Dark Horse first started publishing Conan with Kurt Busiek. But it's more than that, this is the type of story that has been missing in comics for a while. The type where you look on the calendar to see when the next issue is shipping. It's the same feeling I got when Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee were doing Batman: Hush. I can't wait for the next issue. And no digital copies for me on this one… I want to own this series because I will read it again… and again.
X-O Manowar #2 hits shops this Wednesday and is well worth the purchase. Here are a few preview pages from the issue: