X-O MANOWAR #5 is another outstanding installment in this series that makes the X-O Manowar armor an interesting character in its own right.
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The General

X-O MANOWAR #5 is another stellar installment of the best series and reboot of the year. The protagonist and wielder of the X-O Manowar armor, Aric of Dacia, continues to change with each new challenge he faces. However, his progression from soldier to general in this current arc is not as predictable as many fans would believe. Aric is becoming more complicated as time goes on and as a result, this series is becoming more engaging. Writer Matt Kindt and artist Doug Braithwaite challenge expectations once again in another unpredictable issue of X-O MANOWAR.

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The Battle Rages On

A defeated, weary Aric of Dacia is forced to balance the interests of three warring alien factions. Aric must play the three sides against each other, while also trying to serve his own interests. No longer the hero he once was, Aric just wants to return to his small-farm life. However, as he becomes more entrenched in the planet’s politics, that dream seems further and further from reality.

X-O Manowar #5
Image courtesy of Valiant

As the conflict outside rages on, the battle within Aric grows more and more nuanced. He has grown close with his fellow soldiers, and the desire to use the X-O Manowar armor increases. Formerly his greatest asset, the X-O Manowar armor is now a dangerous, intelligent force that lords its influence over Aric.

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Armor Within

Kindt’s most three-dimensional, layered character portrayal in X-O MANOWAR #5 is the armor itself. He portrays the X-O Manowar armor as a completely autonomous entity that has a symbiotic relationship with Aric. Our hero needs the armor to protect his friends. The armor needs our hero because it literally can not bond with anyone else. The armor is bonded to Aric forever, and like any other living creature, it wants to fulfill its purpose. In this case, that purpose is to wage war.

In writing dialogue for the armor, Kindt’s greatest strength is that he never reveals what the armor’s true motivations are. Sure, each line of dialogue could be taken at face value. The armor could truly want to help Aric and his friends. However, there is also a tinge of manipulation that hints at a greater motivation. Aric’s greatest weapon is possibly a double-edged sword.

X-O Manowar #5
Image courtesy of Valiant

While the inner struggle between Aric and his armor has been a focal point of previous issues, it comes to a head in X-O MANOWAR #5. Each issue has featured epic alien battles with greater and greater stakes. As Aric transforms from a soldier to a general, the scope and scale of the battles increases. In this issue, as Aric fully makes his transition to a seasoned general, the battle moves from the field into the throne room. Aric must transition from destroying his enemies with laser swords to trying to outthink his political opponents. The character has really come full circle.

A Bigger Universe

Kindt threw readers into the action in the first issue and has slowly been teasing out world building information ever since. In X-O MANOWAR #5, Kindt brings us even more backstory for the alien planet on which Aric finds himself stranded. There are three warring factions, each of which balance each other out to form a sort of pseudo-peace on the planet. It is mutually assured destruction on a galactic scale. This little piece of information fleshes out the world and really gives the war greater context.

X-O Manowar #5
Image courtesy of Valiant

Braithwaite fills this issue with a series of big, wide-set scenes. Every battle and throne room meeting is on a grand scale. Braithwaite fills every space with vivid, extra-worldly detail. Moreover, his visuals have the air-brushed, shadowy look of a cover from a classic pulp sci-fi novel. There is a sense of realism and rawness on each page. This is not sleek, shiny sci-fi but dark, grimy trench warfare.

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Final Thoughts on X-O MANOWAR #5

Valiant’s X-O MANOWAR #5 presents a thrilling progression for its title character and another excellent addition to this series. As the armor grows and progresses, the series morphs with it. Kindt has been slowly heightening the stakes in each issue by teasing the eventual inclusion of the armor. This final reveal was absolutely worth the wait. Thanks to the inclusion of the armor, X-O MANOWAR #5 feels like a new beginning for Aric and this series.

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