X-O Manowar Issue 50 Review: Aric Unchained

There’s a moment in issue 50 of ‘X-O Manowar’ where you see Aric of Dacia. His face is centered in the middle of everything. His eyes blue and troubled is in tune with all that’s surrounding him. Aric’s look, so intense and all-knowing should give you an idea of who this man is. Definitively he is someone who understands his humanity. And that is due to the alien-sentient suit he wears. Shanhara grounds him and has him realize that to be a king means to accept that you have limitations. But it also means knowing when to make a sacrifice, shrewd enough to understand when to fight back and perceptive enough to accept a gift.

In ‘Long Live the King’ writer Robert Venditti brings closure and new beginnings for fans, both casual and diehard. You get the history of X-O Manowar from his days fighting the Romans to his joining forces with the team Unity and finally becoming king over the Vine – the very alien race who took his freedom from him and ironically gave him the tools not only to free himself, but become the symbol of their religion. What makes this trip down memory lane so mesmerizing is the artwork, particularly when Aric is within the Torment. There are no throwaway panels. Each frame adds to Venditti’s narrative. You see Aric’s allies and enemies alike battling on. You see debris and people fleeing. The chaos reflects Aric’s journey and before you know it it’s over. Things are settled, perhaps in a way you don’t expect – leading to a wealth of possibilities and new stories to be told.

Of course there’s Ninjak who gives his own observations on the growth of the hero and king in ‘His Greatest Failure.’ In his own way he helps an old friend out. It’s a nice bloodbath done only with Colin King’s special style. But the heart of this 50th issue is the story ‘The Two Deaths of Gaius Maelius.’ Appearances are made by unexpected time travelers. Aric further shows maturity and history reveals itself to be the absolute authority on karma. Still what you should pay attention to is the exchange between the Timewalker and Aric. It’s subtle and mysterious. Just why exactly these two need each other means some juicy storytelling in the future.

It takes three writers and a myriad of artists to help us understand Aric’s place in the Valiant universe. His life touches everyone. His group affiliations, friends, enemies and worshippers all see Aric in a certain light. The thing that they all have in common is that none can ignore him. His omnipresence will always be there – no matter what form it takes.

About Donna-Lyn Washington 622 Articles
Donna-lyn Washington has a M.A. in English from Brooklyn College. She is currently teaching at Kingsborough Community College where her love of comics and pop culture play key parts in helping her students move forward in their academic careers. As a senior writer for ReviewFix she has been able to explore a variety of worlds through comics, film and television and has met some interesting writers and artists along the way. Donna-lyn does a weekly podcast reviewing indie comics and has also contributed entries to the 'Encyclopedia of Black Comics,’ the academic anthology ‘Critical Insights: Frank Yerby’ and is the editor for the upcoming book, ‘Conversations With: John Jennings.’

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