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VALIANT: X-O MANOWAR 2017 FCBD SPECIAL

by Thegreatmagnet on May 07, 2017

"The Three Prayers of X-O Manowar" - Matt Kindt, CAFU, Andrew Dalhouse
"Secret Weapons #1" Preview - Eric Heisserer, Raul Allen, Patricia Martin
Valiant Universe 2017 - David Lafuente, Andrew Dalhouse
Bloodshot Salvation" Prologue - Leff Lemire, Juan Jose Ryp, Andrew Dalhouse

Valiant is a company that historically knows how to bring it on FCBD. More than just preview pages for upcoming comics, Valiant usually offers exclusive story content that ties into their upcoming stories. They also tend to throw in teaser announcements for new series that create excitement among the fanbase. This year’s issue offered two great exclusive stories, tying into XO Manowar and Bloodshot: Salvation, and it also offered a preview of Secret Weapons, a new miniseries that Valiant is promoting hard leading up to its in June.
 
The X-O Manowar story was great. It features beautiful art by CAFU, and gives us some additional glimpses of life on the planet Gorin. It tells the story of Aric’s first meeting with Schon, his alien ladyfriend in the new series, set against the backdrop of a battle with some nasty Azure soldiers. The action is juxtaposed with a story from Aric that speaks to his worldview at the beginning of the new series. He says he is done trying to change the world, and he’s now only trying to live well. But unfortunately, it seems that the world may never be done with Aric, and he does not run from a fight. I wonder how much they will build up the character of Schon. She’s been seen multiple times pushing Aric towards action and spoiling for societal changes on Gorin, so I assume she will continue to develop as a long-term character. Artwise, I really enjoyed seeing CAFU’s work on this story. Valiant has a murderers row of artists lined up for the book this year, and we can now add CAFU’s excellent work to that stable. Overall, it’s a simple story and doesn’t have major plot implications, but it’s a character showcase, which is welcome given the hyper-condensed storytelling of the new series and the huge narrative leap from the conclusion of the previous series. Plus, some pretty art and gory action.
 
The second installment in the issue is a preview from the upcoming Secret Weapons, and this book looks amazing. The art by Raul Allen and Patricia Martin is jaw dropping, as was their work in the late, great Wrath of the Eternal Warrior. Hopefully the art will turn some heads in the comic world. On top of that, Livewire is a great character who’s been overdue for a solo series, and Eric Heisserer’s foray into comic writing is exciting. My only comment would be that these preview pages have been pretty widely circulated, essentially from the first announcement of the series, so it’s a bit old hat for the hardcore fans.
 
The final story ties in with the upcoming Bloodshot Salvation, in a sense. The story follows a character in the year 4002, comprised of Bloodshot’s nanites after the man (Ray Garrison) died of extreme old age. 4001 Bloodshot (who really needs his own name eventually) realizes that certain years have been redacted from his memory, and he’s built a machine to retrieve them. We’re treated with a few brief glimpses of the upcoming series, which looks exciting and intriguing (Bloodshot in the Deadside…?),  and there are also some vague comments about things in his vision. This story was a nice hint about things to expect in Bloodshot Salvation, and also a great chance to check in with the 4002 character, who we haven’t seen since last Summer (and aren’t likely to see again until next year at least). I also totally love Juan Jose Ryp’s art and it was fun to see his take on future Bloodshot and his futuristic surroundings. I usually think of Ryp as a horror or historical artist, but he’s clearly very capable at sci-fi as well.
 
There’s a lot to like in this issue. The two exclusive stories are great, and definitely worth the effort (and the price is certainly right). My only negative comment would be there’s not too much that was new, per say. The Bloodshot story had been previewed online, perhaps in its entirety, as had Secret Weapons. The teaser ads were for books that had already been announced (Eternity, Quantum & Woody, and arguably Psi-Lords). Admittedly I was glad to see Psi-Lords get a vague release date, even if it’s unclear whether it will drop before the end of the year. The new things for me were the X-O story, and also the large drawing by David LaFuente featuring a slew of Valiant characters, which was awesome. For people that don’t follow Valiant news online, this is probably all brand new, and it’s certainly eye-catching and well written.
 

Our Score:

8/10

A Look Inside