Sunday, January 11, 2015

XO Man-O-War #10, #11, #12, and #13 (Classic Valiant)

After being in hibernation in his alien XO armour for 1600 years, Visigoth Aric of Dacia is back in the modern day. After getting back on his feet, and working his atrophied body, his home is suddenly attacked by spider aliens. They're even more desperate to reclaim the XO armour than ever before, for an event called The Joining, where they let the fully grown armour hatch a new one in the form of a seed. Aric destroys the aliens' incursion against him on Earth, and flies into space to destroy the Joining before his mortal enemies can make a new XO armour under their control...

This is an annoying story. Five issues worth of material, and there's very little story besides 'The spider aliens are evil, so Aric must destroy them'. That's it! It's pathetic! There are a couple of good scenes here and there, but overall, this is a total waste of time.

Above, I said this is a five-part story, but it only spans across four issues of XO Man-O-War. This is because in-between Issue #12 and #13, there's an issue of Solar, Man of the Atom as part of the action. While the story lacks a few establishments of plot points if you skip over the Solar issue (which you'll likely have to, given how hard it is to find), it's not really required reading, and nothing much actually happens in it.

All this non-story culminates in an abrupt and dialogueless ending, and the lingering feeling that this story has amounted to nothing, to the point where all the trouble the writers went through to get to this point (like sending Aric back in time so he'd be in hibernation for 1600 years, giving the new XO seed time to grow fully) was pointless. Nothing is advanced concerning finding the alien homeworld, nor does anything negative come from the seed, which is unceremoniously destroyed come the rushed ending.

The dialogue here is bland, and there's also a pretty unfunny Valiant namedrop, as well as the writer's ill-informed knowledge on Conan the Barbarian's runtime. That latter point's a pretty small complaint, I know, but if you specifically address a movie's length in your story, you better damn well get it right!

Aric is boring here. All he does is effortlessly kill aliens, never showing one iota of personality, and the AnoRexo joke he makes is very out-of-character, and mean-spirited to the audience. Solar is equally dull, making zero impression.

The aliens make for personality-lacking goons, and never pose any kind of threat, even when Aric has to fight them without the XO armour. Rexo is a pretty dull villain, but it's thankfully very clear that he's not being written by the misogynistic Jim Shooter anymore, as he was in other Valiant series Harbinger. Also, at least his death (having the top of his helmet broken open, and drowned inside his suit with the blood flow from an alien's severed head) is pretty cool!

The artwork in these issues is decent, although the colouring is sometimes a bit off, such as overly pink people. I did dig one moment-A splash page of a spider alien arena. The covers are pretty crap. Issue #10's is cool, but #11's is totally boring, with nothing to it. #12's is better, but looks pretty similar to Harbinger Issue #3, and finally, #13's is ok, but the background is too chaotic, and Solar's musculature is off.

This five-parter is intolerably bad, and a horrible waste of money!...

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