X-O Manowar Unconquered #2 Review

Writer: Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad

Artist & Colorist: Liam Sharp

Letterer: Troy Peteri

Cover Artists: Liam Sharp, Valentin Secher, Michael Leeke & Andrew Dalhouse

Publisher: Valiant

Price: $3.99

Release Date: April 19, 2023

Aric of Dacia remains in self-imposed exile on the icy moon Scythia. As in writer Matt Kindt’s series, he has tired of the needless suffering on Earth. Still, battle finds him: this time as an invitation from messengers of the Novus Romanus. What happens when he declines their invitation? Let’s blast into X-O Manowar Unconquered #2 and find out!

If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the X-O Manowar Unconquered #1 Review.


Aric and Shanhara survived their impact with Scythia, but neither has fully recovered. Aboard the Novus Romanus command ship, General Cadmus and Commander Aurum watch as Aric fights the legionaries. Like the Vine before them, these Space Age Romans view the armor as the ultimate weapon. Like technology leader and billionaire Troy Whitaker in writer Dennis Hopeless Hallum’s series, the Romans intend to use the living armor to level up their military. Even weakened, Aric and Shanhara defeat their warriors. So Cadmus and Aurum send their Senior Centurion, Thyria Antius, into the fray. Liam Sharp’s Cover A of X-O Manowar Unconquered #2 captures the result.

Taken aboard their spaceship, General Cadmus invites Aric to dinner. Traditionally, eating with one’s enemies is heavily symbolic. Thus, he does so warily. An act of cruelty reminds him that—despite their claims—his captors are little different from the Romans he fought on 5th Century Earth. As in Hallum’s series, Cloonan and Conrad make an oblique reference to Thor. They also suggest a far more interesting comparison with a Biblical hero that could herald future plot developments. I’m unsure how Novus Romanus history squares with events in writer Robert Venditti’s run, but the name of their command ship intrigues me, considering how history remembers him.


Liam Sharp steeps art in symbolism. His multi-layered approach challenges readers to interpret what they see. He weaves characters into scenes like a collage. Has he drawn them from several viewpoints and pasted them in as needed? Like filmmaker Ridley Scott, he melds character design, backgrounds, and atmosphere to create the mood.

Sometimes, Sharp’s art in X-O Manowar Unconquered #2 suggests a lenticular cover caught in transition. The eyes weary while waiting for the image to form. Some panels–such as one that paints Aric with Elfin ears–remain unclear. Yet striking imagery abounds. With Shanhara wounded, Aric’s helmet takes on the appearance of the beast he fought in issue #1. One wonders how Robocop’s helmet might look if designed by Swiss artist H. R. Giger. Much of the backgrounds—especially Theodosius I interiors, remind me of Alien. A lavish banquet scene brought to mind Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee’s ’90s Inhumans series. An overhead glimpse from above, seemingly distorted by a mirror, seems more at home in a Cathedral than a comic.

As in issue #1, Troy Peteri deploys a war chest of lettering. Dialogue from speakers emerges as uppercase black letters in white dialogue balloons. Blobby black fields with white lettering capture the narrator’s ruminations. Shanhara’s thoughts float in puffy bronze clouds. Nimane’s insights waft through blue clouds that suggest an X, as in an X-Men comic. Stressed words grow bold. Sound effects enhance already fraught scenes.

Final Thoughts

Steeped in the history and culture of ancient Rome, X-O Manowar Unconquered #2 returns Aric of Dacia to his 5th Century roots. Like Soothsayer Nimane’s visions, one glimpses his adventures through a glass darkly. While characters and situations coalesce, other mysteries—such as the identity of Emperor Ursus Nox—remain. As with Ridley Scott’s movie Alien, the story and art leave us much to ponder.


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