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X-O Manowar #34 [Review]

xomanowar0034Dead Hand part 1: To the Last

Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciler: Diego Bernard
Inker: Ryan Winn
Colorist: Brian Reber
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artists: Lewis Larosa, Jorge Molina, Das Pastoras, Butch Guice
Associate Editor: Tom Brennan
Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant Comics
Cover Date: March 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

This issue is fairly distinct as the first “overlay” cover I’m aware of from this incarnation of Valiant. In addition to the “regular” cover, we have another piece covering half the front and all of the back of the issue, providing the same house-ad in color on the back (but nothing on the interior) and half the image of the front (in black-and-white with nothing on the interior side). The overlay includes the arc designation Dead Hand and story chapter (1), while the main/actual cover itself underneath is entirely in color with no arc designation or anything to indicate a new or specific arc.

Compared to prior issues where the “A” cover was outright MISSING half the image as a “variant”/”interlocking” sequence of covers for a single issues, I’ll gladly take this. I don’t really “get” the need for the overlay–the arc title doesn’t cover much and fits the title logo and simply looks like a comic cover. I’ll also accept this as an alternative to having a “black and white variant cover” and a “color variant cover” or some “virgin art” variant cover. Seeing this process done infuriates me all the more on the matter of variant covers.

xomanowar0034_showing_overlay

That said, the cover isn’t bad but doesn’t really stand out to me other than the presence of the overlay.

I like the story quite well, and caught myself contemplating that I’m pretty sure Venditti has been on this book for 35-some issues now (including the #0 issue) which in this day and age is a significant run despite barely being 3 years. While I’ve had previous issues that I didn’t totally “follow” consciously, this one felt nicely rooted in a general continuity–I’ve read since #1; I read the Planet Death arc a couple years ago I read last year’s Armor Hunters stuff; and so this flows nicely out of everything that’s developed so far. I enjoyed seeing Aric return to Loam (and that I recognized the planet’s name) and felt like the Vine (aka “spider aliens”) could be sympathetic characters if only generically. I also quite liked Aric’s sense of responsibility toward ’em.

The art for the issue is solid, and while nothing stood out to me as singularly spectacular or such, it’s really good and fits the story quite well. The design of this issue’s Armor Hunters (with their armors) have a cool look to them and made me think of an “X-O Manowar Corps” in a sense.

This is clearly the opening chapter of an arc, as it basically “just” introduces stuff for the main part of the whole: we see Aric with his people as he prepares to leave; we’re introduced to what I believe are previously-unknown Armor Hunters; we’re introduced to Dead Hand; we see Loam and its reception for Aric; and we’re left on the cusp of a significant event for Loam and Aric as the issue ends. Though a reader would certainly enjoy this most as an in-context story, there’s just enough introductory stuff that I’d say this would be a good jumping-in point for someone to give the book a shot. Unfortunately, this IS “just” an opening chapter of a larger arc so that lends its own aspect to the book in general: there’s NOT a “full story” just in this single issue, which does promote the advantage of waiting for a collected volume to get an entire story in one book.

Whatever complaints I’ve had on variant covers, or my general complaint toward the $3.99 price point, this is a solid issue, and fresh off from reading it, it’s a nice validation of my enjoyment of the series as a whole. As the premiere and presently longest-running Valiant title, if you aren’t checking it out issue by issue, it’s at least well worth checking out in collected edition format. Significant as the Armor Hunters saga was, Dead Hand looks to be extremely significant for Aric and his supporting cast of characters minus additional issues outside of X-O Manowar itself to follow. Very much recommended!

New Toys on New Comic Day

Despite it being a New Comic Day, I’m more excited with a couple of toy purchases this week.

Valiant‘s weekly email noted that the announced-awhile-back-and-I’d-forgotten MiniMates pack of X-O Manowar and Bloodshot was now in Toys R Us stores…so I stopped by my local TRU and found it. And bought it.

valiant_mini_mates

While in TRU I also browsed the Lego stuff, and happened to notice a new Mech:

ninjago_electro_mech

Since they’re often cheaper at and I was going to Target anyway, I ended up getting the Mech there, though it proved to be the same price as TRU.

I suppose I might be “back” into Legos again for a time. We’ll see, though…

The Weekly Haul – Week of February 4th, 2015

This seemed like the smallest week in quite awhile. “only” the three DC weeklies, two Valiants, and Star Wars from Marvel.

weekly_haul_20150204

And I don’t quite get why we have two issues of X-O Manowar in a row…that’s even more clustering than the usual for Valiant.

Next week is gonna be huge, and with DC‘s news today about the changes to the line in general, I’m rather discouraged toward continuing with any of their output.

MORE Valiant Variant Annoyance!

I complained several weeks ago about discovering that my copy of X-O Manowar #31 was only one-HALF of an image…no wrap-around cover, no gatefold. I’d have to buy TWO COPIES of the SAME ISSUE if I wanted to actually have the entire cover image.

Now I find out the same thing’s happening with #32 as well!

xomanowar032_ab

And I don’t even like the image all that much from this perspective.

Aric’s butt, or what looks like it could be Giant-Man’s foot from The Ultimates coming down on an armored figure.

If you have a four-issue arc…put the halves on subsequent issues. If you have a 3-issue arc, do a wrap-around cover or a gatefold, or AT LEAST provide some sort of pull-out poster or something.

if it’s just a cover, why do it?

And for those who would say to me that it’s no big deal, if I don’t like it I don’t have to buy the variants/multiple-copies-of-the-same-issue, I say: if it’s no big deal, then the publishers should QUIT DOING IT!

I’ve already "accepted" variants as a "Thing" but darn it…I’m sick and tired of even "just" sticking to my "standard, most basic" or "A" cover or such winding up with only half an image.

Seems there was a 5-part interlocking series of variants for X-O Manowar #0…FIVE. BUT I can overlook that as those were a variant image entirely, and didn’t impact me with my standing order of "A-cover or most basic non-variant" for my pull list. I bought one single copy of that issue, got the image that had been used in advertising/previews for the issue, the standard image I’d come to associate the issue prior to its release.

With these 2-part interlocking covers where they ARE the standard covers…I don’t have that choice. OR I have to seek out a rarer variant just to have a single image for the cover…and the image may or may not be all that relevant to the issue in question.

Much as I’ve stayed "loyal" to Valiant, maintained a blanket "everything single-issue Valiant puts out" for my pull list…this is frustrating and annoying enough to have me asking myself what it would look like if I dropped Valiant entirely.

Or shifted to collected volumes only. After all, those (TYPICALLY!) have only one cover, and there’s the chance the variants might be included as bonus pages/backmatter there, and let me avoid the "issue" of variants with the singles.

X-O Manowar #31 [Review]

xomanowar031aSmall Packages

Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciler: Diego Bernard
Inker: Alisson Rodrigues
Colorist: Wil Quintana
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artists: Raul Allen, Emanuela Lupacchino
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Associate Editor: Tom Brennan
Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

Hard to believe this title is already on #31. Particularly in an "age" where it seems hardly anything makes it much past #12 or even 25. All the more significant because with the #0 issue, this marks 32 for the title, and having been following it since #1, that’s 32 issues I’ve been following X-O Manowar month-to-month in the single issues…in this "age" of the collected volume, graphic novel, or bookshelf-format books.

This is the second part of this Enter Armorines arc…though in a lot of ways this feels like a first. The arc continues the trend of new takes on "old concepts" for Valiant; and we get a fuller introduction to the Armorines in this issue. Aric is pulled into things in the wake of the Armor Hunters incident to meet the Armorines–soldiers outfitted as a defense against a repeat of that incident. Unlike Aric’s armor that has all sorts of abilities, the Armorines’ armors each have a specialty. Their creator points out that rather than having an "all in one" unit he can make more money keeping things divided, as well as even being able to make money when the only difference is a paintjob (a commentary I liken to the notion of variant covers with comics). Of course, the Armorines aren’t quite the allies that Aric expects, paving the way for the conflict of the next couple issues.

Story-wise, this isn’t a bad issue, though I didn’t pick up on a subtlety at the beginning until I went back and looked at it again after reading the issue in full. I definitely appreciate that Armor Hunters has not been swept under the rug for the next shiny thing–we’re getting actual fallout and development based on the events of Armor Hunters, and there’s some time for this to breathe before we get into another event later in 2015.

I’m not terribly particular on the art–the visuals are not bad, nor do they blow me away. The issue’s opening works visually, especially once I know the context, and the rest of the issue simply "is" for me.

However, I am not AT ALL happy about the cover image being only one panel of a multi-panel image FOR THE SAME ISSUE. As much as variant covers are probably my biggest pet peeve in comics…multi-part connected images ON THE SAME ISSUE are my biggest pet peeve WITHIN the notion of variants. If I were to base picking this issue up on the cover, I’d be more than done with this book on that principle. Since I follow the book for the story and don’t tend to pay MUCH attention to the covers long-term…I’m annoyed on principle right now, but hopefully the story will crowd that out for my long-term memory. (The splitting of the image across versions of the same issue is in stark contrast to the wraparound cover on #26!)

All in all, this is a fairly standard-ish issue…nothing overly stand-out (despite the "introduction" of the Armorines) but nothing bad. I do look forward to the next issue and seeing Aric get some payback for what’s done to him in this issue. It’s also interesting to consider that these Armorines–while antagonists in this issue–have the "potential" to be protagonists in their own story.

If you’re following the series, this is a good "next issue" of the ongoing. Being mid-arc, if you’re not already following, you’ll probably be better served tracking down the previous issue or two or waiting for a collected edition. Or if you love variants and whatnot, you could pick up a couple copies of this issue for a larger image (that ought to have been a wraparound cover).

The Weekly Haul – Week of December 31st, 2014

Final comic shops visit for 2014…

weeklyhaulweekofdecember312014a

Despite being a really "small" week for DC…since I’ve been getting the weeklies, I didn’t notice a "break" in things at all. Image had a $1 issue, and Valiant actually had one issue out.

I also took advantage of an after-Christmas 20% off sale for a couple more Walking Dead volumes, working on getting caught up there.

weeklyhaulweekofdecember312014b

It’s been a number of years since I’d gotten a new Walking Dead "standard" TPB. (I started with this format, and am too far in/committed to switch to any of the other formats). My last was vol. 13, and 22 is the newest. I’d "gone back to" the single issues for a couple years or so; dabbled in digital for a couple years, and outright passed on the series entirely since All Out War ended (thanks to my continued personal boycott of comixology since they did away with in-app purchasing for iOS).

But it’s been bothering me, to look at my bookshelves and see that gap, to be missing nearly HALF of the series, so I’ve been working on "catching up" on the 9 or so volumes I’d not yet picked up. I snagged 3 volumes from Half-Price Books; I’d picked up vol. 22 as an all-new read at the start of Comic Heaven‘s 20% off sale; and then vols. 20-21 this week. I intend to finish up with 14-15 and 17 via eBay or otherwise online to get ’em for around half-ish off.

The Weekly Haul – Week of October 8th, 2014

While not a SMALL week, this was a decent week of comics, with 2 promo-priced $1 issues in the bunch.

weekly_haul_october_8th_2014a

I’ve been looking forward to the X-O Manowar #0 most out of this bunch. With Soule soon leaving Superman/Wonder Woman I might be jumping “off,” as it IS a $3.99 book. And I’m far preferring DC‘s $2.99 stuff…

weekly_haul_october_8th_2014b

…most specifically, DC‘s weeklies.

I remember when it was a big deal when they did ONE weekly (52). And earlier this year I’d thought it interesting their trying two weeklies, but now they’re up to THREE.

I’m “trying” World’s End, and will see how it seems, as I have not followed Earth 2 since its first or second issue.

While I’m questioning a single $3.99 book above…I’m not entirely against the notion of buying three $2.99 books ($8.97) each week. It will be expensive–that’s a $36/monthly investment on top of other stuff. BUT it’s a lot of content (relatively speaking) each month, and a lotta story crammed into a single year.

And I’d far prefer to buy a single weekly title than a bunch of separate titles. Much as the Superman books were functionally a weekly during most of the ’90s.

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