X-O Manowar #17 [Late] Review: Historical Fiction Interrupting the Sci-Fi

X-O Manowar #17
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Writer: Matt Kindt, Artists: Trevor Hairsine and Ryan Bodenheim, Inker: Brian Thies, Color Artists: Diego Rodriguez and Andrew Dalhouse, Letters: Dave Sharpe, Cover by: Lewis Larosa and Diego Rodrigez; Jim Mahfood; Shane Davis and Gabe Eltaeb; Veronica Fish; Barry Kitson and Gabe Eltaeb, Assistant Editor: David Menchel, Editor: Karl Bollers, Executive Editor: Joseph Illidge, Publisher: Valiant Entertainment, Release Date: Out Now, Price: $3.99

Aric of Dacia has just been saved from the wrath of the Romans by his new friend Sabbas. On their trip to the next destination, Sabbas explains how he came to be here, riding with the Forgotten Warriors of Thamud and encountering the Lost Ninth Legion. Aric and Sabbas sail for Rome itself, but they find themselves pushed into the gladiatorial arena.

X-O Manowar #17 cover by Lewis Larosa and Diego Rodriguez
X-O Manowar #17 cover by Lewis Larosa and Diego Rodriguez

X-O Manowar #17 continues the story of Aric and Sabbas meeting in the time of the Roman Empire. I’m still a little off-put by this fairly dry and straightforward historical fiction being dropped into this otherwise high sci-fi title, and it’s nakedly a holding pattern while Harbinger Wars II finishes up.

It’s not badly-written; Matt Kindt is as talented as ever. Aric isn’t an especially interesting character in this tale. He’s single-mindedly searching for the young brother of his friend. The catch of the story is that it’s supposed to be Shanhara explaining how Aric’s situation in the past mirrors the struggle of the Psiots in the present. The comparison is there, but it doesn’t make the story anywhere near as compelling as the previous X-O Manowar stories.

Sabbas is charming but shallow too. He has his visions and a sense of humor but little more.

X-O Manowar #17 art by Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Bodenheim, Brian Thies, Diego Rodriguez, and Andrew Dalhouse
X-O Manowar #17 art by Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Bodenheim, Brian Thies, Diego Rodriguez, and Andrew Dalhouse

Trevor Hairsine and Ryan Bodenheim both do some good work here; Valiant continues to benefit from keeping a pool of very talented artists on tap. The world is unforgiving, and the characters look impressive and imposing. Brian Thies inks it all quite well, and Diego Rodriguez and Andrew Dalhouse give the world a barren atmosphere.

X-O Manowar #17 isn’t a particularly interesting read. Aric and Sabbas have some decent interplay, and the artwork is great. Beyond that, this issue is a bit dull. I can recommend it to the X-O Manowar diehard fan who love Aric, but I can’t suggest it for anyone else.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.