X-O Manowar takes place in the 5th Century and it follows Aric, a member of the Visigoth Germanic tribe. Aliens known as the Vine capture his tribe and all seems doomed until Aric is offered help from sentient armour known as Shanhara. Protected by the X-O Manowar armour, Aric frees his people from their extra-terrestrial captors. But it would seem that space years and earth years are centuries apart. Upon returning to Earth Aric is faced with the 21st century. It is 1600 years later.
X-O Manowar #16 is split into two different time frames as Aric clashes with Gilad the Eternal Warrior. Gilad is an immortal and he also happens to be Aric’s tutor. The issue opens with a flashback to a battle between Gilad and Aric that takes place in the 5th Century. This issue is filled will non-stop, action. The beauty of it during these action scenes we get to see character development. The dialogue is so well written you cannot help but compare their fighting and sparring to Henry Drucard and Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. Gilad does a great job of teaching Aric during these fight scenes as he attempts to make Aric aware that his every action will indeed have a reaction. Aric is of course far too arrogant to listen. He prefers to let his fists do the talking.
We then return to the present where these two face off once again. Gilad can see that Aric has gained combat experience and he is more battle tested due to the X-O armor. However, Gilad can see that Aric still lacks discipline and restraint and that his new found powers could lead to carnage on a global scale. But Aric is not one to take lessons. He prefers to dish them out. The final battle is an intense one filled with really spectacular art.
The art is really enjoyable with a general dark look and feel that is strongly contrasted with the Manowar armour and the effects of the epic fight scenes. The fight scenes are well drawn and presented. It as if you are looking at the choreography plan for a film that culminates with a clash between two warriors. Usually comics suffer from the featured fights being too short, leaving a sense of disappointment or too long leaving the reader thinking that the dialogue is weak so the fight is strong, almost as if the writer were covering his/her tracks. The action sequences in this comic will leave you wanting more whilst presenting you with enough character and story development to make X-O Manowar #16 a great self-standing issue!
X-O Manowar is not a story about superheroes. It is an epic journey about a man that is lost in the present. Aric is flawed, pig-headed and quick to anger, but this is exactly what makes this read so enjoyable. Add some great story-telling and a unique concept and you are presented with the recipe for a rather excellent read.