Review: X-O Manowar #23

I’ll admit that this tends to be a series I fall behind on. There are just too many good books to read and so sometimes I bank a series and catch up on it with one fail swoop. That was the case with X-O Manowar this month as I fill in for Carl on the review. The thing about X-O is that the quality never dips. I’ve never picked this series up after a long break and though, “nah, I’m done.” Instead each time I’m reinvigorated to read the series more consistently. With the events in Unity and the upcoming Armor Hunters, I don’t see myself missing a single issue anymore. For twenty-three issues Robert Venditti has delivered a fantastic story and much like Harbinger it seems to only get better and better with each issue. Here he kicks the story off with the introduction of a fierce-looking alien that seems to have similar armor to Aric’s, but he’s missing half of the suit. If this doesn’t set your imagination on fire and get you excited for Armor Hunters, I don’t know what will. It’s possibly one of the coolest things introduced into the new Valiant Universe.

The alien isn’t doing to hot and his ship is even worse off. He just needs to make it to earth before the ship gives out and then he’ll be fine. Too bad he collides with a big chunk of Vine ship floating around the orbit of earth.

XO_023_COVER_CAFUAt the same time Aric is bidding goodnight to his queen as he must do his nightly “patrols.” The Visigoth’s have been put on a reservation in Nebraska under the watchful eye of the U.S. government. Aric knows this, but the others do not. He moons a Satellite that has missiles aimed at this people before checking in with his handler. Venditti excels with her character because if you don’t hate her after one page of interactions then you’re a liar.

The pacing of this story is just perfect. I don’t use that world lightly here. Venditti really does capture the perfect pace as he establishes the alien crashing to earth, and then backs up the story to catch up with Aric so that he can arrive on site just after the crash. No scene is longer than it should be, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not the exact length they need to be. It is a great reading experience to see Venditti shape Aric’s character. He’s grown so much from the first issue and it only continues.

Usually when a book shifts artists it can be a bad thing or even annoying, but somehow Valiant has made the rotating talent on this series (and their other titles) a moot point. Here artist Diego Bernard steps in and knocks the issue out of the park. He was the absolute best choice for this issue and sets the stage for the coming event that will tie heavily into X-O. His line work is wonderful and the alien being is very cool looking.

It’s not often that you fall behind on a series because it’s consistently great, but if you were like me then catch up. In a lot of ways X-O is the Valiant Universe. They built their world on his shoulders and he’s more than capable of handling the load.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Robert Venditti Artist: Diego Bernard Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/19/14