Saturday, January 10, 2015

XO Man-O-War #5 and #6 (Classic Valiant)

Time-displaced Visigoth Aric of Dacia is growing more and more discontented with the unfamiliar modern world, failing to even grasp where and when he is, all the while his only comrade Ken continues his takeover of Orb Enterprises, transferring its holdings into his and Aric's names. A short time later, Aric's alien XO armour finally assimilates enough data to catch him up on everything, from language, to history. Even angrier than he was before, now that his faith in the gods, and in Ken is broken, Aric drowns his sorrows in a bar. While he's out, a villainous Technopath named Ax breaks into his home to try and take control of the XO armour...

It certainly took this series long enough, but five issues in, and we finally get character development from Aric! For its first half, this story is quite good, with many decently-written scenes with the lead as he finally realizes what time he's in, and where his old one is.

Unfortunately the story's second half leaves a lot to be desired. Quite a bit happens in Issue #5, but #6 is just an issue-long fight scene. The plot with the villainous Ax amounts to nothing, wastes a lot of time, and poses little challenge for Aric. I wish that Ax and co. weren't in this story, and that it would have focused entirely on Aric adjusting to the modern world.

Despite the drawn out nature of this story, there are entertaining moments throughout. Especially funny is when Aric walks into his company building holding a severed human head as a trophy. Granted, it's pretty dumb, as this must mean Aric's not only encountered two random gangs of oddly murderous thugs, but he's also brutally slaughtered at least ten muggers at this point! And he hasn't attracted any police attention yet?!

The characters in this story are mixed. Aric comes across as somewhat likeable, and his naive barbarian nature is kind-of endearing!...Unfortunately it takes about all of two issues before you'll start wishing Aric dead again, that dickhead!

The villain Ax (who's from other Valiant series Harbinger) is annoying. His presence in this story fits better than the Renegades in Issue #4, but I'm still irked by his being here because I can't stand this character! He's a pathetic and useless villain, always failing in the most pitiful and embarrassing ways. Thankfully it seems like Valiant hated Ax too, as he loses a limb, or is horribly maimed, in almost all of his appearances. Still, that's no consolation for what he canonically does to Valiant hero Bloodshot in the future, which is a BS decision.

Now that Aric is caught up on the modern world, the treacherous worm Ken has no place in this series, but remains nonetheless, which is annoying. The character never adds anything to the series, but is a constant for damn near fifty issues! I'm sure glad he's yet to show up in the new XO Man-O-War.

The art here is good, although the sky has an oddly pastel quality to it at times. Issue #5's cover just sucks! The nothing background is annoying enough, but the reddish tint discolours the armour =. #6's cover is a bit better, showing off some decent action.

While Issue #6 is pretty dull,  I do actually recommend #5 if you're a a fan of the new XO Man-O-War series who's interested in its roots...

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