X-O Manowar Unconquered #1 Review

Writer: Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad

Artist & Colorist: Liam Sharp

Letterer: Troy Peteri

Cover Artists: Liam Sharp, Nimit Malavia, Will Staehle, Bob Layton

Publisher: Valiant

Price: $3.99

Release Date: March 22, 2023

Aric of Dacia stands in a field of corpses. Beyond him, fire consumes ruins. The Fifth Century Visigoth warrior denies his humanity. From now on, he is only the weapon: X-O Manowar. What happens next? Let’s claw into X-O Manowar Unconquered #1 and find out!

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The vision fades. What is replaces what may be. Aric flies toward a comet, intending to strike it and knock it off course. Shanhara—his sentient armor—warns he may not survive the impact. Aric doesn’t care. The comet is heading toward Earth. Stopping it is all that matters. Thankfully Shanhara protects him, and Aric survives the impact. They crash on a planet, along with impact debris. They discover more than ice and rock from the comet. All the while, people watch Aric and Shanhara, thanks to the Soothsayer.

Initially, I found all this difficult to follow. Cloonan and Conrad throw a lot at the reader. No links with the previous X-O Manowar series anchor us. One aspect of the plot—hitting a comet to knock it off course—seems more informed from the movie Armageddon than NASA. Shanhara would know that nothing would prevent debris from such an impact from reaching Earth and causing incalculable harm. Still, X-O Manowar Unconquered #1 seems rooted in the rich loam of Aric’s history, which seems a hopeful sign.


Liam Sharp’s art often has a haunting, dreamlike quality. Figures emerge from darkness or mist. We cannot readily interpret what we see. As with such framed pieces that hang in galleries, this forces our minds to make sense of these visions. At other times, images are crystal clear. They take on a glossy, polished appearance. Or they appear drawn with graphite and colored pencils. Portraits of people emerge: sometimes in color, others in black and white. The latter resemble highly detailed photographs.

Troy Peteri enhances this artistic smorgasbord with an appealing selection of lettering. Dialogue from speakers emerges as uppercase black letters in white dialogue balloons. Those unseen speak through blobby rectangular black fields with white lettering. Shanhara’s thoughts float in puffy bronze clouds. I liked how Troy grouped the dialogue symmetrically. I appreciated the sound effects that helped enliven Sharp’s all too often static scenes.

Final Thoughts

X-O Manowar Unconquered #1 delves into the rich history of Aric of Dacia. Galactic events and strange, new characters invite comparisons with director John Boorman’s movies Zardoz and Excalibur. While much is glimpsed only through mist, fire, and stars, this first issue promises a unique and cosmic rebirth for Valiant’s flagship hero.


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