Sabbas is hunted by the brothers of the slaver he killed, and he escapes on a boat, meeting a writer along the way. The two have a bizarrely shared vision of a tale of a cursed ring. Elsewhere, Aric continues to fight the Huns wherever he can. This leads him into the presence of those he hates almost as much as the Huns: The Romans.
X-O Manowar #16 manages to get me engaged with this flashback story set in Aric's past. #15 was far less successful in this regard.
The reasons this issue works more than the previous one comes down mainly to pacing and direction. Aric is driven to kill the Huns, and Sabbas is on the run for his life. The text dumps are less frequent, so the pacing is quicker.
There is still some slowness; the meeting between Sabbas and the writer gets a bit daunting with how many caption boxes it throws at the reader. This scene is still interesting at least; Sabbas is shown to be an intriguing man. The writer is actually the historical figure, Kalidasa.
The action scenes with Aric are fun and kinetic. Time begins jumping forward a lot once the fight scenes conclude, and it does get a little confusing consequently.
We also get some explanation as to why we're seeing this from Shanhara. The reason is probably what you expect.
Trevor Hairsine once again proves to be among the best artists that Valiant has on tap. The world is overflowing with detail, texture, and personality. It is a hazardous and oppressive place with plenty of attention given to the environment. Diego Rodriguez and Jose Villarrubia compliment this with a bright and almost glaring color palette that emphasizes how harsh a world it is.
X-O Manowar #16 is a vast improvement on the previous issue. It's still not he kind of story I look for from this series, and it does still resemble a holding pattern while Harbinger Wars II goes on. That said, it was still an engaging comic worthy of a recommendation for those interested in Valiant's offerings. Feel free to check it out.