X-O Manowar: Soldier
After an undisclosed amount of time, Aric of Dacia is no longer on Earth, living on an alien world, as a simple farmer, sharing his farm and his bed with a local woman. There is no sign of the Manowar armour. And then he gets drafted into a war and given a series of suicide missions, which he takes to with customary aplomb.
It’s a bit of a pat description, but there’s not a huge amount of depth to this volume, which reintroduces Aric, sets up his new status quo, and goes about demolishing it. It’s old school science-fantasy action, like John Carter, Carson of Venus, or Flash Gordon, but reinvented by way of some excessively violent 2000AD beat 'em up. And it’s pots of fun.
Matt Kindt is a veteran storyteller in the Valiant universe at this point and even though Aric is the only pre-existing character in here, it feels right at home as a Valiant story. And Tomás Giorello’s art is spectacular, it fits perfectly in alongside valiant veterans like Dougie Braithwaite. If you liked Braithwaite’s work in books like Unity, you’ll love this.
But, and this is a big one, this trade (or at least the digital edition) is shockingly low on content. There’s about 90 pages of story - the first three issues of the new X-O series plus the FCBD preview, and then about 40 pages of backmatter which is mostly or all reprinted from the extended pre-order versions of the individual comics.
Kindt says in an interview in the book that the plan for the first year is four 3-issue arcs as Aric rises to power in this new world, but to present each arc as a separate trade feels a bit too much for me. I’d have far preferred a six-issue (or six and a bit, including the FCBS special) collection with far fewer sketches and breakdowns in the back.