While X-O Manowar tries to determine the best course of action regarding the upcoming Harbinger War, Shanhara, Aric's suit, takes us back to the earlier days of Aric and the Visigoths. We focus on two figures: Sabbas and Aric. Sabbas is a slave worker in the mines of Zambia, and Aric stakes out his own quest to save a Visigoth kidnapped by a Roman platoon.
So, I'll admit that I didn't know Aric was one of the Visigoths until I read the previews for this issue. That doesn't really change anything, but it was a funny twist for me in reading this comic.
This issue changes genre for X-O Manowar, shifting to a setting in the late 300's A.D as opposed to the sci-fi superhero fare of the normal comic.
While the story may go to interesting places, this issue was a duller than previous installments. A lot of time is spent setting up the premise. Sabbas is a unique and enjoyable character, but his plot doesn't go very far in this issue. Aric's story isn't all that interesting, even if it does end in a solidly cool fight sequence.
I get that X-O Manowar is stepping aside so Aric can do his thing in Harbinger Wars II, but it still would have been nice if the book could have a direct link to the Valiant crossover instead of a symbolic link. It tries to draw parallels between the Visigoths treatment at the hands of the Romans and what the U.S government is doing to the Psiots in Harbinger Wars II. It feels a little tenuous, but it's not too contrived.
Trevor Hairsine's artwork is gorgeous, and it's the strongest aspect of the comic. The world is given good detailing, the texture looks good, and characters are visually distinct from one another. Brian Thies and Stefano Guidano's inking is tight and good. Diego Rodriguez provides the color art, and it adds nice atmosphere to the world. You can almost feel the heat beating down on the characters in the desert regions they travel.
X-O Manowar #15 has great artwork, but the story is underwhelming. It may improve, but this was a fairly conventional start to the arc. Jumping back in time to a fairly well-documented and oft-written isn't an exciting premise, thought here is promise for an interesting racial allegory between the Romans and Visigoths. I can't say this issue is bad, but I can't quite recommend it either.