Another (possibly) major character in the upcoming Ninjak vs the Valiant Universe web series is one of the most popular heroes in the Valiant Universe: X-O Manowar, who’ll be portrayed by Derek Theler. As usual, we don’t know much of his role in the show: in the trailer, we only see him walking in some kind of desert, and then flying away in his extraterrestrial armor by the end. Considering his… turbulent past with Ninjak, and the fact that the latter made his debut as an adversary in his series, it’s more than likely that the two heavy-hitters will come to blows sooner or later, even if they are allegedly part of the same superhero team. Now, let’s take a closer look at Valiant’s most known icon.
Aric of Dacia was born around 380 AD, son of Rolf and Inga, a Visigoth living under the domain of the Roman Empire. Aric only knew war all his life, as his people were constantly battling Rome‘s military forces to conquer some of their territory; when he was still a kid, Aric was entrusted by his parents to his uncle, Alaric I, the king of Visigoths, who raised him as his own son. A brave warrior, Aric was one of Alaric’s most trusted men; as an adult, he married a Celtic slave freed from a Roman camp, Deidre, and he lived with her and his parents at his uncle’s court. One fateful day, Aric followed his uncle in a massive battle that involved all the Visigoth warriors: in Pollentia, the barbarians faced the Roman Empire’s forces… and were utterly defeated by their superior military power. Aric witnessed his father being killed by the Romans during the battle, and if that wasn’t a enough a reason for grief, once they came back to their city the Visigoths found out that another Roman division, taking advantage of the men’s absence, had assaulted the citadel, capturing and enslaving all the women and children they could find. Even Deidre and Inga were among the missing ones. Alaric, understanding far too well his position, started to negotiate with the enemy for the release of the hostages; the younger and hot blooded Aric saw this as a weakness, and refused to obey his uncle. Along with his friend Gafti, Aric gathered a number of warriors who didn’t want to make pacts with the Romans, and organised a strike team to attack the enemy by surprise, that very night. On their way to the targeted stronghold, the Visigoths found some warriors dressed in strange garments: mistaking them for Roman sentinels, they attacked the group… but the “Romans” were in fact aliens from outer space, who made short work of the Visigoths with their futuristic weaponry. The few survivors of the skirmish, including Aric and Gafti, were abducted by the aliens, and brought to their mother-ship as brand new slaves for their people: they were The Vine.
The Visigoths soon found out that, if there was something worse than being enslaved by Romans, it was being enslaved by The Vine. Not broken yet, Alaric and Gafti made their escape as they managed to overpower their jailer and to run to another section of the ship… only to be recaptured in a matter of minutes. Before being taken again, however, Aric saw something weird, a strange ritual in which an alien warrior was brought to the presence of some sort of floating orb, that took the shape of an armor; the armor, actually the semi-sentient super-weapon Shanhara, didn’t find the Vine worthy to be its host, and killed him. That episode remained in Aric’s mind for all his time as a slave, a time in which he was brutally forced to work on the alien spaceship as a farmer; the jailers were brutal and sadistic, and one day, while trying to protect Gafti from the savage beating of a Vine, Aric had his left hand cut off as punishment. That was the final drop: enraged, Aric started organizing a rebellion, formulating a plan with all the other slaves on the ship. Slowly but steadily, the slaves stole tools from the ship’s farms, until after some years they had an arsenal of scythes and rakes. Aric guided his fellow slaves to freedom, and the prisoners killed some slavers making their way to the armory: the security chief on the ship, Commander Trill, managed to put up a true siege, cornering the rebels in the armory, transforming their hope into their tomb. The humans would have all been slain, if not for a small detail: Shanhara was there, and it chose Aric as a worthy host. With the power of the armor, Aric annihilated the enemy forces and won the slaves’ rebellion. Eager to see his wife again and to free her from Rome, he traveled back to Earth… only to find a much different world than the one he had left. Because of light-speed travel, the years on the Vine ship had been centuries on Earth, and everybody Aric ever knew was long dead. Attacked by Italian police, the barbarian escaped in South America, hiding in the jungle: now, not only he had to understand the rules of this strange new world, he also had to defend himself (and the planet) from the Vine, who wanted their super-armor back…
Aric of Dacia is, simply put, a barbarian: grown in a world of conflict and raised with a morality that privileged strength and valor over anything else, he’s a man from another time, a warrior who lives for battle and takes what he wants. As X-O Manowar, the Shanhara armor grants him a number of abilities: he can fly, he possesses superhuman strength and durability, he can emit powerful energy blasts, he can create solid-light objects (usually a sword, a weapon he’s always been a master of), he can interface with nearly any technology and absorb many forms of energy, he can speak and understand any language, he can heal from virtually any wound (the armor also stimulated the regrowing of Aric’s missing hand), he can teleport, he can cloak himself becoming invisible and he has a number of weapons integrated in the system; even without the armor, Aric is a formidable warrior, both unarmed and armed. A man out of his time, struggling to understand the rules of modern civilization with the sensitivity (or rather lack of) of a barbarian born two millennia ago, X-O Manowar found out that even the modern war is full of conflicts and wars, a world in which he can claim the honor that belongs only to a victorious warrior.