Review: X-O Manowar #24

In this prelude to Armor Hunters, Aric contends with the alien sporting half a Vine X-O armor.  Despite bearing only a fraction of the firepower, the creature Malgam still packs a wallop.  The two duel in space as Colonel Capshaw watches from below. After a bit of intervention from Shanarra, Aric overpowers Malgam and turns the creature over to Capshaw’s custody.  The displaced Visigoth returns to his new refuge and his love, Saana to enjoy the modern luxuries of four walls, cold running water, and hot girlfriend.

In the conclusion we find out why Malgam was so banged up.  And that’s very bad news for Aric.

The rogues gallery continues to grow for this comic series.  Malgam proves to be a worthy foe, yet his presence is diminished by the crew of hunters searching out ‘infections’ of the Vine armor across the universe.  The stakes are raised higher than ever before, and there looks to be no way for Aric to survive the upcoming battle.

XO_024_VARIANT_HENRYGood thing he’s got 48 pages in an anniversary issue to do so because he will need every one of them to handle the crew coming to get the X-O from him—dead or alive.

I have explained the story elements that make this comic a must-pull every month, so now I will highlight the dialogue.  Robert Venditti drafts some great discussion, particularly in battle.  At one moment, Malgam chides Aric that he has “…only fought with the armor.  You [Aric] will never understand how powerful it is—Until you spend a life fighting against it.”  The gravity of such a statement lies in a two-fold interpretation.  First, we know that Aric has only begun to fathom the power of the weaponry he’s bonded to.  Second, what if that sentient armor wants control—total control?  Here’s proof that the writer of this comic is putting forth an outstanding effort to make a multi-dimensional character with threats greater than the opponent opposite Aric.  One day that threat will be the power that has kept him alive so long.  What a hell of a battle that will be.

When Aric asks the creature for his hand in peace, the monster responds with violence.  Aric cuts off his arm.  Malgam, regenerates the limb as Aric did previously.  Malgam states, “You want my hand?  Have it!  HAVE THEM BOTH!”  And then the creature strangles Aric.  Here again is a brilliant way of making dialogue mean something more than the textual level.  For this reason, among so many others, you must read this book monthly.

I tend to favor the writing from my English background, but I must say the art proves to be consistently strong.  If not Cary Nord, other talent like Diego Bernard brings Aric to life with fine detail work and energy bolts that crackle off the page.  The character designs of the Armor Hunters and their ship will prove the point further.

For as long as I have reviewed this title, it has been outdoing itself on all aspects.  Next month’s 25th issue will be big, but don’t wait until then to start treating yourself to one of the most deliberate and potent action comics that has the audacity to be brilliant.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Robert Venditti Artist: Diego Bernard Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/16/14