X-O Manowar #25 is Valiant’s 48-page anniversary celebration of the 25th issue, plus the final prelude to Armor Hunters and consists of a number of short stories plus some extras. There’s “The Origin of X-O Manowar” by Robert Venditti, J.G. Jones, and Matt Hollingsworth; “X-O Manowar: The Fate of Kings” by Robert Venditti, Bryan Hitch, and David Baron; “The Armor Hunters: Burial” by Robert Venditti, Bryan Hitch, and David Baron; a Unity pin-up by Barry Kitson and Allen Passalaqua; “Owly and Wormy in…Shanhara’s Day off” by Andy Runton; “Bar Fight” by Justin Jordan and Rafer Roberts; an X-O Manowar database by Sean Chen and John Rauch, “X-O Manowar: Battle for the Ages” by Tom Fowler; an X-O Manowar pinup by Cary Nord; and a segment of the original X-O Manowar series pitch by Robert Venditti. Collectively, it’s a look at the past and present designed to appeal to long-time fans of the series while bringing new readers on board for the upcoming saga.
In the “Origin” story, Robert Venditti, J.G. Jones, and Matt Hollingsworth provide a short, two-page, comic that brings everyone up to speed on Aric’s past, from his time enslaved to the Vine until now. It’s an effective précis, well-told, and readers who came on board after Aric’s escape finally get a look at the infamous Vine.
X-O Manowar: The Fate of Kings” by Robert Venditti, Bryan Hitch, and David Baron provides Aric with a brief moment of introspection as Aric visits his Uncle Alaric’s tomb and thinks on his final burial. He muses on the lessons his uncle taught him about fighting and not fighting. Past and present are portrayed here, with the past violence contrasting with current, temporary peace.
“The Armor Hunters: Burial” by Robert Venditti, Bryan Hitch, and David Baron pairs perfectly with this as it also features a burial, this time the burial of one of the hunters. It establishes the group as a team every bit as connected to one another–perhaps even more connected–as those heroes on Earth. It also shows their determination and gives them a strong, ruthless streak making them creditable foes. The care that has gone into the character designs here is palpable. Each team member is distinctive, and the whole is a convincingly alien group who, nevertheless, read as people with cares and concerns.
“Owly and Wormy in…Shanhara’s Day off” by Andy Runton is a short, amusing tale of Shanhara in Owly’s world while “Bar Fight” by Justin Jordan and Rafer Roberts is a look at what might happen if Aric and the Shadowman exchanged tales.
The pin-ups are, of course, stunning. Venditti’s notes on possible directions for X-O Manowar are a chance to look at what might have been, the seeds from which the current tales grew. The database provides a look at other types of armor the Vine have used and their first appearances in the X-O Manowar books.
All in all, X-O Manowar #25 is the perfect starting point for new readers yet will still make existing fans of the series happy as it expands the story’s universe and provides further character growth.
Writers: Robert Venditti, Peter Milligan, Justin Jordan, Andy Runton
ArtistsRobert Venditti, Peter Milligan, Justin Jordan, Andy Runton
Inker: Allison Rodriguez
Colors: Dave Baron, Brian Reber
Letters:Dave Baron, Brian Reber
Cover Artists: Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic, Bryan Hitch, Arturo Lozzi, Sean Chen, Terry Dodson