Writer: Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad
Artist & Colorist: Liam Sharp
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Cover Artists: Liam Sharp, David Rubin, Kevin VanHook & Andrew Dalhouse
Release Date: May 24, 2023
Aric damaged Shanhara–his sentient armor—protecting Earth from a potential extinction event. Recovering on an icy moon, he held off Novus Romanus soldiers until Senior Centurion Thyra Antius launched a missile at him. General Cadmus welcomed Aric aboard his command ship, but a soldier whipping a slave confirmed his suspicions: the only good Roman is a dead Roman. Aric’s closeness to the soothsayer Nimane outraged Thyra. With Shanhara reeling from her earlier attack, can Aric fend off another from the General’s favorite warrior? Let’s activate our laser swords, leap into X-O Manowar Unconquered #3 and find out!
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Thyra’s formed her opinion of Aric, and it’s not favorable. She views Visigoths as little more than savages and believes stories surrounding his exploits are overblown. Aric fights her off with Shanhara’s help, but then General Cadmus stops the fight. “Look,” he commands, “the Emperor is calling!”
Emperor Ursus Nox’s welcome doesn’t convince Aric to join them. But what are his options? Should he flee once Shanhara recovers? Although his X-O Manowar armor advises caution, Aric’s attracted to Nimane. Seemingly returning his feelings, she leads him deeper aboard the command vessel and shows him more of the spacefaring Romans’ plans.
The links to writer Robert Venditti’s series grow clearer in this issue. We learn more about Nimane, Thyra’s armor, and Commander Aurum. While the Emperor still hides behind his mask, I suspect many readers share my suspicions regarding his species. No narrator’s voice intrudes to share insights into Roman history and practices in X-O Manowar Unconquered #3. While there may be no link, the similarity of the name Cadmus with the Cadmium race in writer Matt Kindt’s X-O Manowar series intrigues me.
Liam Sharp mesmerizes with gallery-ready art in X-O Manowar Unconquered #3. Characters appear freshly honed in panels only to lose their edge in the next. Aric glows with Shanhara’s power, and Thyra’s armor appears adept and unstable. Nimane’s attire seems straight out of an ’80s Heavy Metal magazine, and Aric resembles the messiah the Jews always wanted (as opposed to the one they eventually got). Backgrounds—often merely suggested—invoke awe.
Troy Peteri places Shanhara’s thoughts in puffy bronze clouds. When attacked, her words slant and bend. Peteri shows dialogue as uppercase black letters in white dialogue balloons. Ursus Nox’s greeting—transmitted via hologram from afar—appears as blue letters in white dialogue balloons with lightning bolt arrows. Sound effects in X-O Manowar Unconquered #3 are as brutal as the Roman soldiers. Instances of tiny lettering, and uppercase letters grouped closely together, may stress older readers’ eyes, as will the somewhat transparent dialogue balloons that allow Sharp’s extremely dark art to show through.
Plotting in the ranks, discoveries aboard General Cadmus’ command ship, and a powerful vision remind us of Aric’s past and reveal much about the Nova Romanus. More mystery than space opera, X-O Manowar Unconquered #3 imbues characters with more humanity, giving their plights—and plots—welcome clarity.