Thereâ€™s a moment in issue 50 of â€˜X-O Manowarâ€™ 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 thatâ€™s surrounding him. Aricâ€™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 â€˜Long Live the Kingâ€™ 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 â€“ 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 Vendittiâ€™s narrative. You see Aricâ€™s allies and enemies alike battling on. You see debris and people fleeing. The chaos reflects Aricâ€™s journey and before you know it itâ€™s over. Things are settled, perhaps in a way you donâ€™t expect â€“ leading to a wealth of possibilities and new stories to be told.
Of course thereâ€™s Ninjak who gives his own observations on the growth of the hero and king in â€˜His Greatest Failure.â€™ In his own way he helps an old friend out. Itâ€™s a nice bloodbath done only with Colin Kingâ€™s special style. But the heart of this 50th issue is the story â€˜The Two Deaths of Gaius Maelius.â€™ 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. Itâ€™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 Aricâ€™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 â€“ no matter what form it takes.