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X-O Manowar #10 [Review]


xomanowar010Prelude to Planet Death Part Two of Two

Writer: Robert Venditti
Art: Trevor Hairsine
Colorist: Brian Reber
Letterer: Dave Lanphear
Cover Artistis: Trevor Hairsine and Cary Nord
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99

We open this issue on a flashback, to young Aric and Gafti training in a field, ending with a show of brotherhood and declaration that someday they’ll be known the fiercest Visigoths to ever swing a sword. We then shift back to the present, where Aric faces Vine commander Trill holding forth the tortured, barely-alive body of his old friend. After some strong words back and forth, Aric engages Trill in battle, while the Vine invasion begins. One battle ended, Aric gives up the X-O armor that it might heal Gafti as it did him–only the pain leaves Gafti in another state of mind entirely…one that could cost an entire planet its life.

Even before anything visual sets in, I noticed the paper quality of this issue is significantly better than some of the earlier issues of the series–while at least a couple of the issues seemed positively (forgive the term) floppy…this feels like a very sturdy paper stock…which is a lot more befitting of a $3.99 single-issue!

Visually, this is quite a solid issue–even with all the action, I was able to follow along without really having to disengage from the story to exert any concerted effort on interpreting the art. The “changing of the guard” where the armor bonds with Gafti–and the resultant look of the armor is striking yet subtle. No real problem for me with the issue’s art.

The story itself is fairly simplistic on the surface–an Earthman fighting a commander of the Vine, then Earthman vs. Earthman with alien armor, then Earthman vs. more aliens.

But–if you’ve been reading the series, Aric and Gafti have a deeper history than the two-page flashback in this issue, and that history is felt as the characters interact here; ditto the history between Trill and Aric. This issue truly grows from what we’ve read throughout this entire series so far–it’s all led here, and this into the next major arc.

While I would like to see X-O a bit more “grounded” and relatable; with a “standard” supporting cast and all that…it’s an instinctual desire, I think; and AS I think on it, I also recognize that this is a very personal sort of story–of Aric and just a handful of people around him. We’re seeing and aware of more than just Aric’s point of view, yet for the most part, this series on the whole has stuck rather firmly to Aric and those immediate “contacts” in his life as well as the “ghosts” of his memories.

I’ve toyed with dropping the Valiant books from my monthly pulls solely due to pricing and a kneejerk backlash against the $3.99 price point from all publishers…but then I remind myself that even with the Valiant “cluster” of multiple books in one week with other weeks devoid of all Valiant…I’m actually reading the early part of a shared universe contained in only 5 books per month, with any doubling up being a one-shot special issue, rather than 3-6 titles that then ship a second issue the same month.

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