Sunday, January 11, 2015
XO Man-O-War #9 (Classic Valiant)
In issues #7 and #8 of Valiant series XO Man-O-War, the story was part of the company-wide Unity event, thus I'll be skipping over them for now, and get to them when I review Unity as a whole.
After Unity, a war outside of the regular universe, time-displaced Visigoth Aric of Dacia is hurled back into his home era of 408 A.D. Confused at first, Aric goes home, reuniting with his tribe, and wife Dierdre. However, Aric's kinsmen are distrustful of him, believing his alien XO armour to be Satanic, and they plot to have him killed...
This issue's story annoys me by concept alone. I'm of the opinion that Aric should never have gone back to his old time, that it should have remained a permanent loose end in his life, and if he was to go back in time to 408, it should have been a way into the series. Unfortunately, it happen in Issue #9, which was only the sixth story in the series so far! Worse still, this only lasts for this issue alone before Aric loses everything and goes back to the modern day.
To the story's credit, it does touch on all the bases it needs to, and the pacing isn't bad, but this concept really should have lasted longer than a single twenty page issue. What's even worse is that this story's events have no consequences. The events don't change Aric in any way, and come next issue, Dierdre isn't even mentioned again for a very long time!
After the last two issues, any likeability Aric once had is gone, and now he's just a murderous jerk.
The other characters are decently written. Mallak is a cackling one-dimensional villain, but the others, such as Alaric, fare better, as they're more complex. They're villains of the story given what they want to do to Aric, but you can easily understand where they're coming from, and given what Aric does in the story, you can easily side with them.
Though something that irks me is that all the main villains get away with zero comeuppance. Alaric I understand, given he was a real guy, and maybe Aric won't kill his beloved uncle, but Mallak has no such protection. He's the story's defacto main villain, but after taunting evilly to Aric, he just vanishes from the story.
Dierdre is very underused, not appearing nearly enough to have any character, or for her death to be at all effective. Her death (crushed in a collapsing temple) doesn't even make a whole lot of sense. Aric was only inches away from her, so it'd be easy for him to quickly blast away the immediate threat, then cover Dierdre with himself, or just grab her and fly up through the temple's collapsing ceiling.
One last thing to note is that the issue is called Besieged: Homecoming Part 1, despite there not being a Part 2!
The art here is good. As for the cover, it has some neat action going on it, but it is really stupid seeing XO Man-O-War riding a horse when he can fly!
This is a problematic issue, but it's still one of the better issues of XO Man-O-War so far, so I at least appreciate it for that...