Sunday, April 13, 2014
XO Man-O-War #1 (Classic Valiant)
In my big Valiant Comics post, I said that from the Comixology previews I'd read, I thought that series XO Man-O-War looked boring, but a few months ago, I started thinking about the series, and I couldn't remember why I assumed it would be boring, so I decided to give it a chance.
It turns out my first assumption was entirely correct.
Aric of Dacia is a Visigoth barbarian from 402 AD, who is taken prisoner by spider aliens. Some time later, on the alien spaceship, he manages to break out of his cell and makes his way to an armoury, where he equips a strange suit of armour, which proves to be extremely powerful. He uses what he dubs the good skin to decimate the aliens and blasts his way out of the ship, heading for Earth. However, it doesn't take long for the aliens to try and reclaim their most prized weapon...
There is one slight pressing question in all of this...Who the fuck is Aric?!
Seriously, the damn issue just starts, mid-story, with Aric having already been long since kidnapped from...Visigothia or wherever they came from, and he's already escaped from wherever he was kept prisoner on the ship. I'd say it's like going into a movie partway through, but hell, if it's a good enough movie, you'll be able to tell what's happening easily enough. Here, we know nothing, so not only are we confused, but we don't even know why we should care. This is a huge problem Jim Shooter has, as several of his series' start of mid-story, like there was a fire at Valiant's archives, and he hastily renamed all #3 issues as #1. If it wasn't for the #0 issues that came out years later, we'd know nothing about his characters.
Aside from that, the story is all action, little plot. There are some evil aliens who are evil, and a guy in a suit of laser armour who has a 'slight disagreement' with them.
There's no character here either. Aric speaks walls of text, yet we get nothing of his character, or history. He's just a guy who narrates a lot (extremely repetitively too!). Some people praise this series for being original, with its concept of a barbarian in a nigh-powerful Iron Man type suit, but it's hardly worth praise when we don't even know who the damn guy is!
As for the series' main supporting character Ken Clarkson, he comes out of nowhere, we have no idea who he is, and we barely know why he's embroiled in all of this. Here, he's just apparently a random tourist who sees a huge naked man (Aric) and decides to take him in, groom him, take him on a plane to another country, etc, for seemingly no reason, which Aric doesn't object to in the slightest because? It's revealed he's working for the spider aliens (against his will), sort-of, but even that is underwitten to the point of laziness, and has more and more plot holes about it over the next issue.
The writing is pretty nothing, but its worst crime is the repetition. If you want a fun drinking game that'll be a challenge, but at the very least won't kill you, then take a shot each time Aric says 'Ho', 'Die', 'This is a good skin', and 'hard-skin'.
The artwork is good, minus the unappealingly drawn Ken, but there are placement issues that are completely unacceptable. The panels in some pages, one in particular, are very small, and the white space outside is massive. And speaking of placement, this issue completely squanders its extended 30 page length.
I don't recommend this comic at all! The only reason I'm not pissed at myself for having bought it is that I can make a review of it that people will hopefully find amusing.