Not The Spartacus They’re Looking For

XCT #0 reviewed by Shane Syddall
Spartacus

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XCT or Xtreme Champion Tournament is a cool comic that has its head in the right place.

For those who love Roman and Greek epics, XCT Spartacus #0 is something for you. While not the meatiest opening issue for a comic book, it clearly details what we should expect from the franchise. Hopefully, the story progresses, with a much better plot in the future.

The Epic of Spartacus

XCT Spartacus #0 is a story written by Shaun Paulen and Brendan Holiday, with pencils from Jerry Gaylord. It’s published by Comics2Movies.

XCT is a historical-sci-fi story, following the epic of Spartacus. If the name rings a bell, it’s likely because it’s an almost 1 to 1 reference to the historical Spartacus, the Thracian gladiator. 

The comic book starts during a campaign of the Third Servile War. For those who need to brush up on their history, the Third Servile War was one of Ancient Rome’s most significant slave uprisings. It was known as the War of Spartacus, particularly due to the mighty prowess of the slave leader.

Within it, Spartacus rallies his men against the upcoming Roman Army. Vastly outnumbered, he campaigns for a surgical strike against Crassus to end the Roman leader. 

Knowing that the attack is virtual suicide, his men rise to the occasion and prepare for the assassination of their would be oppressor. Spartacus and his men fight with berserker’s rage, but like history tells us, they could not fight off the sheer numbers that the Roman Army had.

Eventually, we discover that a future team of archaeologists excavate Spartacus’ grave. You’ll need to read the comic to find out why.

XCT: Too Much Action, Too Little Plot, Solid Worldbuilding

XCT Spartacus #0 does not have a ton of story to it outside a history lesson. For those who know about the story of Spartacus, much of the first 2/3 of the book is a retelling of his conquest/defeat. 

Whilst it is packed to the gills with action, it does not move the plot too much, and that’s ok. Why?

The entire point of #0 issues is to act as a prologue to the main story. It’s world-building. It’s a way to frame the story and create a proper, logical origin for its first chapter.

For this purpose, Spartacus #0 works very well. It established Spartacus as a master warrior, worthy of his name and prowess. 

Many of the frames try to establish the brutality of Spartacus’ past. He killed many different Roman soldiers of varying ranks and skill. We were also given a peek into his past comrades. Whether these people return is anybody’s guess at this point.

Spartacus’s cruel fate leaves you wanting the next issue in your hands NOW.  Issue 0, job well done.

XCT Spartacus and Its Gorgeous, Commercial Art

When it comes to indie comics, it’s rare to find one that has a fully-fleshed out art. Most of the time, Australian indie comic teams comprise of people who work day jobs. The lack of art hours results in a less polished product.

XCT is far from anything like that. The art of Jerry Gaylord, inks by Alex Sollazzo, and colours by Gabriel Cassatta is as good as it gets. 

The art is crisp, and the inks are useful in showing foreground and background perspectives. The character design is a typical depiction of muscular Greek Hoplite/Spartan. Even then, they’re not overly muscular and exaggerated.

XCT Spartacus #0 has its art as its strongest point, which is by no means an insult to its story or plot. 

Should You Read XCT Spartacus #0?

Love a good sword battle?  Enjoy armies fighting it out with uneven odds?  Like a little history?   Then to thee I say yes!   Looking for a story heavy on plot?  Then maybe skip this one, but that said you’ll miss out on a great ride.

XCT Spartacus #0 can be a great supplement to the first chapter, but as it is, you’ll end your reading session wanting for more, which I can only assume was its exact purpose.







Rating: 4/5

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Hero is Training. Fearless Leader of ComX: Doing all I can to promote the Australian Comic Community and Industry. Brought up on continual rations of Team based comics, from West Coast Avengers to the Legion of SuperHeroes to New Mutants to JLA to Gen13 to New Men to DV8 to Titans to Young Justice to ALL things X. I’ve happily dropped all those to explore the wonderous world of Australian Comics.

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