X-O Manowar – original (Icons Writeup)

X-O Manowarxomanowar_old
aka Aric Dacia / Aric of Dacia

Prowess 6
Coordination 5
Strength 8
Intellect 8
Awareness 8
Willpower 6

Stamina 14

All powers are derived from the X-O Manowar Class Armor. Without the armor, his Strength drops to 5 and his Stamina is reduced to 11. His Intellect is reduced to 5 without the armor and his Awareness drops to 6. Aric is the only one that can command the armor because he wears the Armor Control Ring. The Control Ring has two powers of its own – Detection and Interface, both level 10 and both with the Limit: X-O Manowar armor only.
*Blast (100 MGHz pulsed ion beams) 8
*Dazzle (blinding light) 6
*Extrasensory Perception (Remote Eye) 2
*Flight 8 (Extra: Spaceflight)
*Force Field 6
*Gadgets 4
*Interface 8
*Life Support 10
*Immortality 2
*Regeneration 4
*Damage Resistance 5
*Super-Senses 5
*Telepathy 4 (Limit: Only functions with the wearer of the Control Ring)

Aerial Combat (+1 bonus), Athletics (Master +3 bonus), Leadership (+1 bonus), Weapons – blades, bludgeons, and throwing (Master +3 bonus), Wrestling (Expert +2 bonus)

“With this new skin, I am the strongest one! With this new skin, Aric rules!”
Hates the Spider Aliens


X-O Manowar is Aric of Dacia, a Visigoth barbarian with a powerful suit of high-tech armor. Aric was abducted from his people in the 5th Century by a race called the Spider Aliens, who took him on board their spaceship. Eventually he was able to escape after stealing a suit of X-O Manowar Class Armor, one of the most powerful weapons ever designed. Aric returned to Earth, but thanks to complications of space travel, found that several centuries had past and everyone he knew was dead. Using the armor to seize control of a corporation secretly being run by the Spider Aliens, Aric became the CEO of Orb Industries. With the assistance of his allies Ken Clarkson and Randy Cartier, Aric became a successful business and hero. Eventually, his friends and his company were destroyed by the villain Crescendo. There are multiple accounts of Aric’s end – in Rai # 0, the story of his eventual demise was recounted but in the final issue of his own series it was suggested the entire 60+ issue run was nothing more than a dream.

X-O is probably my all-time favorite Valiant hero but I put off doing this writeup for a long time because I wasn’t sure how to approach it. There were times that he seemed incredibly powerful but other times where he was portrayed at a lower level. Ultimately, I decided to go with some pretty powerful stats but a lot of how tough he would be portrayed in a battle comes down how to intelligently he uses his abilities.

Mistress Crescendo (Icons Writeup)


Prowess 2
Coordination 4
Strength 3
Intellect 5
Awareness 4
Willpower 6

Stamina 9

* Energy Blast 7

* Extrasensory Perception 8

* Force Field 6

* Illusion 6

* Immortality 4

* Teleportation 6

Leadership (Expert + 2 bonus), Military – Tactics (+ 1 bonus)

“I will not allow you to steal that which is rightfully mine!”
“Visigoth Dog!”
“You fear me? Then it is as it should be!”


Very little is known about Crescendo’s past. She is a former Egyptian queen who was deposed by the Visigoths. Upon discovering that Aric of Dacia (aka X-O Manowar) was the last surviving Visigoth, she set out to destroy the company he owned (Orb Industries) and kill everyone that he was close to. This led her to murder Aric’s closest friends (Randy Cartier and Ken Clarkson), destroy Orb headquarters, and set Aric on the run.

Eventually, she discovered a portal between her universe and another. Teaming with Baron Zemo and several other villains from that world, she unsuccessfully sought to rewrite reality. Her scheme was foiled by the combined efforts of X-O Manowar and Iron Man.

Crescendo is mostly a blank slate and you can easily add or subtract details as needed. She is very powerful, immortal, and beautiful in a Bart Sears/Andy Smith illustrated kind of way. She has armored footsoldiers and an adviser named Auger.

My Favorite Comicbooks of the Moment

blogentry-33-0-97909700-1387243912_thumbI read a lot of comics. What follows is not a full list of what I’m reading but it is a full list of what I’m LOVING right now. In order to be included here, the books have to be running right now (i.e. currently published) and have to be ongoing titles — so no graphic novels, though I am including limited series if they haven’t wrapped up yet.

In no particular order:

Superior Spider-Man (Marvel)

The Shadow: Year One (Dynamite)

Eternal Warrior (Valiant)

X-O Manowar (Valiant)

Superman/Wonder Woman (DC)

Detective Comics (DC)

Batman and… (DC)

Supergirl (DC)

Justice League (DC)

Aquaman (DC)

Worlds Finest (DC)

Harley Quinn (DC)

Thunder Agents (IDW)

Forever Evil (DC)

Earth 2 (DC)

Yeah, a lot of DC. While I’m not loving everything they’re doing, I am enjoying a lot of it. And I’m reading many other books, too, but the ones above are the ones that excite me the most when I’m checking to see what’s coming out soon.

What are you guys reading?

Friday Fun (Now With 35% More Fred Hembeck!)

hembeck_smallerIt’s finally here — FRIDAY! Yes, we’re all celebrating at Ye Olde Blog as the end of the workweek looms large. I don’t have any major plans for the weekend, though we will be heading out as a family to see Monsters University.

Yesterday saw the first comics company announce a licensing agreement with Kindle Worlds — and it’s none other than Valiant! I’m a big fan of their universe and back in my fanfic days, I wrote many stories featuring X-O Manowar, Shadowman and a few characters they no longer utilize (Magnus & Solar). I had a good half dozen people forward me the news yesterday… and I am mightily intrigued. I might dust off some of the old tales I wrote and see if I can make something out of them. I like to think I’m a better writer now than I was back then, after all. We’ll see — Kindle Worlds is still making announcements and hasn’t actually gone live at this point.

Writing on The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume Two is going quite well. I’m close to 16,000 words into the novel and I’ve set up all the main villains, their plot… and even had Gravedigger shot in the streets of Sovereign City and left for dead! Pulp fiction, ladies and gentlemen… where the action is fast and furious!

Just finished reading Xenos, which is the first novel in the Eisenhorn series by Dan Abnett. Really, really good stuff. I’m going to read a Shadow novel next and then probably dive back into the Eisenhorn omnibus.

I have no hard sales figures but anecdotally, I believe that The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume Three: Eidolon is off to a good start, sales-wise. The snafu that led to the eBook version being available for a week before the print one might have driven a few sales towards digital but that’s okay. It takes many more digital sales for me to make as much as I do off a single print sale but if I were doing this just for the money, I’d be a fool. As long as you guys are reading and enjoying, that’s the main thing.

Another episode of The Shadow Fan’s Podcast went live yesterday — 36 episodes and counting! Hard to believe I’ve done so many — and there’s no end in sight!

Our art today is from the amazing Fred Hembeck — you know you’ve made it in this world when Fred’s done the squiggly knees effect on one of your characters!


Recommended Comics

AllNewX_Men_5_CoverAs most of you know, I’m not just a pulp fan. I also love the comic book medium and I buy way too many of them, both in single issue format and in trade. I figured I’d let you guys know what I’m reading and loving at the moment. These aren’t all the titles I’m buying, mind you, but they are the ones that I’d recommend the most!

All-New X-Men: Nobody’s more surprised than me. I haven’t read the X-Men consistently since the Chris Claremont days and normally I don’t like Brian Bendis’ writing… but he’s really doing a great job on this series and it’s featured amazing art. I can’t wait for each new issue and I’m glad to be back reading at least one mutant book on a regular basis.

Aquaman: Geoff Johns has been writing the best Aquaman run *ever* and that’s saying something. With stunning art throughout, this is one of the top five superhero comics being published today.

Batman: I didn’t really care for the recent Joker arc but overall Snyder has been writing some really good stories and the art is stellar.

Green Lantern: Yes, there’s some event fatigue going on here and Johns is leaving the title… but this is still one of DC’s best books. Strong characterization and nice art.

Mars Attacks: Fun, grim humor. Every issue makes me laugh out loud at least once and I genuinely have no idea where the stories are generally going.

The Shadow: The first arc had its hits and misses but since then, it’s been solid stuff. I’m including Year One here.

Shadowman: Supernatural superheroics are always fine with me and the Zircher artwork has been amazing. I’m gonna miss him!

Supergirl: A creative team change is on the horizon but I’ve really enjoyed the New 52 incarnation of this character and am looking forward to what’s looming next.

Superior Spider-Man: Not every issue is a winner but overall, this has been a fun change of pace and I’ve enjoyed seeing the focus on one of my favorite Spidey villains.

X-O Manowar: After a slow start, this has turned into a real winner. Every issue is densely packed with both action & characterization.

Honorable Mentions: Uncanny Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy (loved the intro issue but it’s too new to be included on the list above) and Legion of Super-Heroes.

Monday Chatter

mellisa_clarke_waterDidn’t write anything this weekend but that’s okay — it’s good to take some time to recharge the batteries every now and then. I did watch the Super Bowl and enjoyed the outcome, since I was pulling for the Ravens.

I also got a lot of reading done — and if you’re not reading X-O Manowar and the other books from Valiant, you’re really missing out. A tightly cohesive universe that’s well-written with amazing art. Highly recommended. I also read Mars Attacks the Transformers and it was hilarious!

Still waiting on the Pulp Ark Nominations to be released but it should be any day now. I thought it was going to be Friday but I think they wanted to avoid releasing their nominations on the same day as the Pulp Factory. Hopefully you guys took part in the nomination process since only those who made nominations get to vote on the final ballot!

There was some great reaction to my first New Pulp Recommendation column — I’ll try to do those every Friday and I already have one in mind for this week. Hopefully it will translate into a few new sales for those books that I spotlight.

Two stories are in for Tales of The Rook Volume Two and two more expected to be delivered within the next couple of weeks. So if you’ve been missing Max Davies and his friends, you can expect a return flight from The Rook later this year.

All Pulp has taken over responsibility for the New Pulp Bestsellers List and it’s supposed to debut today — as I write this, it’s not up yet but you can head over to their website and count down the minutes and hours until it is. I’ll be looking for it, too! Curious to see what improvements they come up with.

My Favorite Comics At the Moment

20120622-153803.jpgEveryone knows I love comics, just as much as I love pulp novels. So what are my current faves? Read on! The list is broken down by publisher, ’cause I roll like that.

Note: I actually buy more than just these titles… but these are my favorites.

DC Comics
Earth 2
Green Lantern
Sword of Sorcery
Worlds’ Finest

Marvel Comics
Scarlet Spider
Iron Man
Uncanny Avengers
All-New X-Men

Mars Attacks
Judge Dredd

New Crusaders

X-O Manowar

Abstract Studios
Rachel Rising

The Shadow

I also highly recommend you seek out the Shinku trade paperback (Image) by Ron Marz & Lee Moder!

Favorite Comics of the Moment

Everyone knows I love comics, just as much as I love pulp novels. So what are my current faves? Read on! The list is broken down by publisher, ’cause I roll like that.

Note: I actually buy more than just these titles… but these are my favorites.

DC Comics
Earth 2
Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE
Green Lantern
Sword of Sorcery
Worlds’ Finest

Marvel Comics
Scarlet Spider

Mars Attacks
Star Trek (ongoing series)

New Crusaders

X-O Manowar

Abstract Studios
Rachel Rising

The Shadow

I’m really looking forward to Shadowman (Valiant), Masks and Hickman’s Avengers but none of those are out quite yet.

Hack. Cough. Repeat.

Sore throat? Check. Tired eyes? Check. Feel like crawling in a hole and sleeping for a few days? Check.

Yep, I’m sick. Normally, the ‘con grunge’ hits me sooner after Dragon*Con but this year it allowed me a few weeks to lull me into a false sense of security. Sneaky thing.

Work resumed on Gravedigger last night and I’m currently writing a scene where she meets Max Davies, aka The Rook. Fun times. Gravedigger is very much a “spine” kind of thing, where it plays very hard with my other continuities. So there are references to The Rook, Lazarus Gray and much more. I’m still aiming for a first quarter 2013 release with this one but I need to pick up the pace to make that happen — I’m currently about 12,000 words into the story.

If you’re a comic fan, check out X-O Manowar # 5. Best comic published by the revamped Valiant so far. Really, really good stuff.

Reading “The Golden Dog Murders” right now — it’s a 1938 Shadow story. Good fun with some great scenes but it feels a bit like a mishmash of several different stories. Honestly, they’re throwing everything but the kitchen sink in there!

Reaction to yesterday’s Tales of The Rook announcement has been very positive — a lot of people are really pleased with the lineup of authors and are excited to see what they come up with. So am I!

X-O Manowar – Classic (Marvel Heroic RPG Stats)

Aric of Dacia
“Feel my power!”

Affiliations: Solo D10 Buddy D8 Team D6

Distinctions: D4 (+1PP) or D8
Man Out of Time
Savage Code of Honor
“Conan In A Can”

Power Sets:

X-O Manowar Class Armor (Symbiotic)
Cybernetic Senses D6
Enhanced Reflexes D8
Superhuman Durability D10
Superhuman Strength D10
Energy Blast D10
Flight D10
SFX: Area Attack. Target multiple opponents. For every additional target, add D6 to your pool and keep +1 effect die.
SFX: Boost. Shutdown highest-rated X-O MANOWAR CLASS ARMOR power to step up another power by +1. Recover power by activating an opportunity or during a Transition scene.
SFX: Energy Absorption. On a successful reaction against an energy attack action, convert your opponent’s effect die into a X-O MANOWAR CLASS ARMOR stunt or step up a power by +1 for your next action. Spend 1 PP to use this stunt if your opponent’s action succeeds.
SFX: Berserk. Add a die from the doom pool to one or more attack actions. Step up the doom pool die by +1 for each action; return it to doom pool when you’re done.
Limit: Power Surge. Shutdown highest-rated power to gain 1 PP. Take an action vs. the doom pool to recover.

Armor Control Ring
Mind Control D6
Limit: Functions only with the armor, allowing the wearer to summon the armor to him and to aid in binding its will to his.
Limit: Gear.

Combat Master D10 or 2D8 or 3D6
Cosmic Expert D8 or 2D6
Menace Master D10 or 2D8 or 3D6

Blood Oath to Destroy the Spider Aliens
1xp when encountering an agent of The Spider Aliens.
3xp when actively destroying a small enclave of Spider Aliens or exploring their plans for earth.
10xp when either destroying a major colony of Spider Aliens or leaving earth for a time to pursue them across space.

Orb Industries
1XP when forced to alter your natural behavior in order to save face at Orb.
3XP when Ken Clarkson or Randy Cartier are threatened by your enemies.
10XP when claiming a rival company as spoils of war and absorbing it into Orb Industries.

Notes: One of my all-time favorite characters, X-O Manowar starred in a 68-issue series back in the Nineties. He’s recently been revived but this writeup is based on the “classic” version of the character, since the revival is so new that I’m not certain what elements may have changed. A Visigoth barbarian who claims an alien warsuit for himself, Aric is transplanted to the modern day, where he quickly claims Orb Industries (a shell company owned by the Spider Aliens). Taught the modern tongue by his sentient armor, Aric is now a hero in the modern day, working alongside beings like Shadowman, The Eternal Warrior and Bloodshot.

And yes, I know he’s not by any stretch of the imagination, a pulp character — but I felt like statting him up so you’ll just have to get over it. I’ll return to pulp-related writeups after this one, I promise.