X-O MANOWAR #6 by Matt Kindt and Doug Braithwaite
Plot
Art
Characterization
Summary
X-O MANOWAR #6 puts political intrigue and conspiracy on the front-lines as it transitions the series from battle epic to strategic thriller.
95 %
House of Cards

Aric of Dacia is unable to escape his past. In the recent, reboot of X-O MANOWAR, our hero has fled earth to live a new less-violent life, away from war. X-O MANOWAR #6 illustrates that no matter where Aric of Dacia goes, he cannot escape violence and political manipulation. This issue is so engrossing because its events lead our hero to the realization that there will always be corrupt governments and evil to thwart. Writer Matt Kindt and artist Doug Braitwaithe bring Aric’s journey full circle in X-O MANOWAR #6.

X-O MANOWAR #6
Image courtesy of Valiant

Space Invaders

In X-O MANOWAR #6, gigantic monoliths have come to the planet Gorin and are attacking innocent villagers. These rectangular, grey building-like ships float menacingly above the planet. The Azure Emperor, who previously forced Aric into his army, requires Aric to rescue the remaining refugee villagers. Aric senses that there is a great threat afoot, and begins investigating the monoliths on his own. With his team of loyal warriors, Aric discovers a grand conspiracy set to endanger the entire planet. This is all great sci-fi fare that successfully heightens and builds upon the series’ ongoing plot.

READ: Not caught up in this series yet? Here’s our review of X-O MANOWAR #5!

Kindt’s plotting in this issue is top notch. In a few brief instances, he incorporates a series of subtle 180-degree twists to both the plot and Aric’s characterization. Rather than feeling gimmicky or forced, these changes feel like natural extensions of the character. Aric is transforming from Soldier to General before our eyes.

X-O MANOWAR #6
Image courtesy of Valiant

Kindt switches up the story from a series of bombastic battle scenes and raids to a more nuanced tale of political intrigue. In previous issues, Kindt focused in on Aric’s role as a soldier and cog in the planet’s greater war machine. Here, Aric rises above the tide of battle and begins a journey into the more strategic position. Kindt is exploring another facet of battle in a way that both changes the format of the book and allows Aric to grow. Now, we see Aric engage in mental, as opposed to physical, battles across tables and throne rooms. This is a welcome change that makes this issue feel fresh.

The General Appears

While Aric’s struggles evolve, Kindt introduces more elements that make his planetary adventures even more intriguing. Rather than just being a sparse, generic sci-fi landscape, Gorin is beginning to feel like a complex GAME OF THRONES-style royal society. Kindt layers Aric’s inner struggles and violent antics with a struggle between multiple warring factions and species. While it is sometimes difficult to follow which alien ruler is doing what, Kindt still manages to create a sense of tense political subterfuge that permeates every scene. X-O MANOWAR #6 reads like HOUSE OF CARDS in space.

X-O MANOWAR #6
Image courtesy of Valiant

Flashback

Braitwaithe’s art is phenomenal throughout the issue. He is able to maintain a grand sense of scale despite the lack of big action scenes. While previous issues of X-O MANOWAR featured epic wide shots of the scenic landscapes and barbaric battles, this issue is much more constricted in scale. Braitwaithe seamlessly transitions the action in this book to small-scale barroom brawls. The hand-to-hand combat is drawn with a sense of brutality and deadly precision. Aric is not toying with his enemies, and Braitwaithe translates this ruthlessness in close-up shots and a series of furious blows that emphasize the recipient’s bone-crushing pain.

READ: Hey Valiant fans! Read our review of one of your favorite publisher’s latest series, DIVINITY #0!

While the majority of the book is vibrant and detailed, one section of the book fell slightly short. When one of Aric’s companions retells the origin of the villainous monoliths, the issue switches to an opaque sepia tone. The images are fuzzy and somewhat bland when compared to the rest of the book. This slight misstep took me out of the story and felt a little too “comic-booky” for such an intense series. This stylistic choice served the storytelling, but I still feel like the creators could provide the same information in a more artistic manner.

X-O MANOWAR #6
Image courtesy of Valiant

Final Thoughts on X-O MANOWAR #6

X-O MANOWAR #6 is smaller in scale and more complex than previous issues. The weaving of multiple plot lines and build-up to an eventual grand confrontation is riveting. Kindt does double duty in this issue by transitioning both Aric’s character and the plot into more of a political thriller rather than an action-packed epic. I am excited to see how this fantastic series continues to change. As Aric is set to transform into an Emperor in the next arc, Kindt will yet again have to push Aric’s evolution even further.

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