Happy 25th, X-O. You have been the single consistently amazing comic book of this contemporary period. Really, the way you have sustained quality of story and art for 25 issues makes me stand and applaud you. I am. Really. Comics generally have a great three or four issue arc then drop in quality. Not X-O. The storylines have been so strategically engineered that the book can complete a major conflict (like defeating the Vine) yet still give readers the feeling that there’s more to come. Because of brilliant writing and captivating artwork, X-O has become my all-time favorite on-going comic.
We start this double-sized issue with a one-page recount of how Aric of Dacia came in possession of the alien armor. That one page reads better than 75% of the comics on the shelves. The next chapter has Aric memorializing his late uncle and king of the Visigoths, Alaric. Both touching and cool, this chapter will be equal to the end of Field of Dreams for allowing a man an opportunity to cry.
The book swings into the continuation of last issue’s excellent prequel. “Armor Hunters” follows the alien beings that destroy various X-O armors from around the universe. In this brief episode where the Hunters lay to rest a fallen comrade, readers get a mix of humor and intrigue. The Armor Hunters become more than simple villains. We see the true nature of the foes that will be the end of Aric. Not only do these hulking figures look menacing, but they also travel in a robot ship that provides equal fighting potential.
The next brief episode reads like a children’s comic. An owl and worm befriend an X-O Armor and have a day of fun and adventures. After that, a one-page comic chronicles Aric and Shadowman enjoying a beer and commiserating over their odd situations.
As anniversary issues go, this one does a great job of honoring the hero’s latest incarnation. No, there does not exist any full X-O story in particular. However, this would be a great jumping on point for any new fan or an outstanding commemorative issue for any ongoing fan.
Forgive me if I gushed a little too much in this review. By now readers should know that I don’t like something unless there’s a reason (hence, the fact that IDW and fans hate me for my reviews of that terrible Ghostbusters comic). The truth is, X-O deserves praise. Read my reviews of previous issues to see how I specifically point out areas of merit that make the book literary. Hell, just the action alone makes the book great. When there’s intelligent writing mixed in, the book’s a success.
And X-O is a success.
Happy 25th to Aric and the creative team behind this book. Now get back to work because we’re shaking with anticipation over the next 25 issues.
Writer: Robert Venditti and Assorted Writers Artist: Cary Nord and Assorted Artists Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/21/14 Format: Ongoing, Print/Digital