By Patrick Wolf
Easily one of the best sci-fi series of 2017, X-O Manowar deserves every grain of acclaim it’s received so far: the characters are awesome, the action is intense, and the storyline is captivating. I’d like to find something wrong with this franchise, but as of yet, it still sets the standard. This third installment is just as the good as its predecessors, and I already can’t wait for the next.
Taking place where the story left off in issue # 2, Aric and his team have successfully infiltrated the communications tower, but are now surrounded by the entire Cadmium army. To make matters worse, Aric’s Captain has already refused to send reinforcements and a bombing raid is scheduled to take place at any moment. Being more than just a sack of muscles (kind of like myself), Aric must not only devise a plan to extract his team from the tower, but also must find a way to catch Cadmium’s fleeing president before he escapes the city.
Wow, just wow. What a series. If only every comic I reviewed were as good as this one, my job would be the easiest in the world (right now it’s only second to mattress tester). Everything about X-O Manowar is great: the characters are lovable, the fights are suspenseful, and the world is immersive and fascinating. I especially like how from the three warring factions none is all-good or all-bad. Even the present ‘bad guys’, the Cadmium, already have hints of a people that have some good in it (the traitor Bruto comes to mind).
I also like how the writer, Kindt, explores the fine line between the ‘justice of war’ and the ‘justice in war’. While Aric’s allies are clearly in the right for rebelling against their former masters, that doesn’t mean their in-war tactics are as noble as their cause. The Burnt’s General repeatedly sends his own soldiers on suicide missions, and the Azure’s Captain has no scruples over leaving his own men to die.
Obviously, another great aspect of this series is the artwork. Giorello, Mack, and Orzu are an outstanding team that can pretty much illustrate anything from barbarians to aliens, to castles, to spaceships, to monsters. The actions scenes are also very well crafted. The fights are beautifully choreographed, and the chase scenes actually feel fast. Rodriguez’s colors additionally demonstrate his level of mastery. He does an excellent job using darker tints to create mood, and he has a way of manipulating color to help the reader distinguish between characters that would normally look identical if handled by a lesser colorist.
If I were to offer some constructive criticism to the team of X-O Manowar, it would be that one of their chase scenes wasn’t quite up to par with the previous installments. I was a little confused with who the good guys were shooting at. I knew they were chasing a ship, but they seemed to be shooting at something behind them. I realize this is a trivial complaint, especially since everything else about X-O Manowar is freaking awesome, but since I consider it the standard of what a comic should be, I’m going to subject it to a higher level of scrutiny.
Otherwise, this series is outstanding and should be read by everyone. Don’t let the title turn you off. I know ‘X-O Manowar’ isn’t as appealing as ‘X-Men’ or ‘The Flash’, but it’s every bit as exciting. I rarely see a series that has such a strong handle on pacing, action, and character development. Even the exposition is done in a fun and interesting way that makes me want to find out more. Three words: Read this series.
X-O Manowar # 3
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Tomas Giorello, David Mack, and Zu Orzu
Colorist: Diego Rodriguez
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment