Saturday, January 10, 2015

XO Man-O-War #3 (Classic Valiant)

Superhuman corporate head Toyo Harada seeks to protect the Earth from evil aliens, and when he sees the XO Man-O-War armour arrive on Earth, he could never guess that a time-displaced Visigoth was able to steal it away from the aliens. Not realizing that the armour's wielder Aric of Dacia is an enemy of the aliens, Harada hires cybernetic mercenary X-Calibre to hunt XO down...

This is a passable issue of XO Man-O-War, but it does nothing to further the series. We see Aric wander around the new world he's found himself in, and his ancient mindset towards things is slightly amusing, but not enough to carry the issue, as it never really plays into the plot.

The writing isn't all that good. What dialogue that isn't exposition dumps is pretentious waffle from Harada

There's one really stupid scene where a group of muggers decide to murder Aric for no reason. They're in broad daylight, in the middle of a public area, and they know Aric has no money, as he's practically naked! What kind of idiot thieves are these?!

There's zero development for Aric this issue, but his mindset is mildly effective. It's moreso here than it was in the crappy first two issues in part due to the less repetitive writing. Ken is basically set dressing, making no impression on the story's events, while Harada is dully characterised, and mildly annoying. The Valiant character Solar, Man of the Atom makes an appearance here, and it's out-of-nowhere and pointless

As for X-Calibre, despite his stupid name, he's a pretty entertaining and likeable character! If only he became a secondary protagonist! He'd certainly make for a much better co-star than Ken! The concept behind X-Calibre is pretty dumb though. To spend millions of dollars on experimental technology to implant weapons into someone's body is really pointless when simply carrying guns would be infinitely easier, efficient, and cheaper. It'd also mean less hassles with airport security for your covert secret agent.

One last thing to discuss with the characters is an odd moment when Aric abruptly suddenly shows knowledge of Soviets and old cowboy films, out of nowhere as far as the audience is concerned! So he doesn't understand the concept of a park, but he does get movies?! I think this was a printing error. By the sounds of it, I think it was meant to be dialogue from X-Calibre, yet somehow it ended up in Aric's narration boxes.

The art here is good, and the cover is decent, although the caption was confusing at first. It says "Featuring, The Return of X-Calibre", even though this is his one and only appearance in Valiant comics. I did some digging, and from what little I can gleam, X-Calibre was a character in Coyote, a series from Marvel imprint Epic Comics.

Valiant's use of this character (which was created by Steve Engleheart, who co-wrote the first few issues of XO) got them in trouble with Marvel, and they had a neck-and-neck legal battle, even though neither company really seemed to want the character. His only appearance in Marvel was in a long-since cancelled ten-year old, thirteen-issue long series from one of the company's imprints, while Valiant only ever used the character in one issue before never mentioning him ever again. Details are a bit sketchy on who won the rights to the character. I think Valiant did, but apparently they still altered X-Calibre's name for the XO Man-O-War: Retribution trade, though the original name is part of the currently available Comixology edition.

This issue is a big improvement over the crap preceding issues, but XO Man-O-War is still nothing to write home about...

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