X-O Manowar can be inspired at times. Hell, occasionally I think it even touches the lofty perch of art. In this particular issue there is a moment that Aric, the Manowar himself, unable to stop a planet from being destroyed simply embraces one of the unlucky inhabitants left behind. The world flashes and he stands there on scorched earth holding a skeleton and asks forgiveness as it crumbles in his hands. The moment is emotional, affecting and poetic. I found my gaze holding on that panel as if it were a dramatic beat in a movie. Just letting the story sit there, respecting the moment, before letting it pass. It’s an incredible page of art and storytelling. If museums hung comic book pages this would be a center piece. It’s a lesson in effective sequential storytelling. So much is told through art direction and the art itself that you don’t really need words to convey the gravity of the situation or the extreme emotions in play. It is the essence of showing over telling. As you can tell this moment really touched me, it’s something that will stay with me for a while and really made my reading experience. The larger plot surrounds the Dead Hand that seeks to sterilize the universe by exploding stars which cleanse all the planets in that system through a baptism of cosmic fire. Aric finds himself completely helpless in the face of the star and as a result The Vine are decimated when their planet is turned into, as Aric calls it, ‘a funeral pyre’. Some manage to escape but they are now a people without a home. Enraged Aric flies off to confront the Dead Hand only to be totally outclassed by the giant planet made of robots. It’s one of the few times that the Manowar has been so defeated and feeling so utterly impotent. Then it’s revealed that with the Vine planet gone the next stop is Earth which gives us our battle lines and our stakes as Manowar promises to raise an army to defend Earth.
This arc is coming along beautifully as it slowly ramps its way up to the confrontation with the main antagonists. I can’t help but feel we’ve been here before but nonetheless I’m looking forward to this particular confrontation. The stakes are high and the enemy is wicked strong which makes me wonder if the heroes will succeed. I mean of course they will, it’s not like they’re ending the series but there’s a part of me that wonders. That is the definition of proper superhero storytelling. Amp up the stakes and provide a plausible enemy and even though the outcome is obvious you still create tension, conflict and a sense of concern for our protagonists. I also must add that the series itself is great and the only dud issue that I’ve come across happens to be the first one I reviewed. Other than that it’s been fantastic since issue #1 and I highly recommend this arc and I recommend tracking down previous arcs as well. I’m very much looking forward to what’s next from X-O Manowar.
X-O Manowar #35 Writer: Robert Vendetti Artist: Diego Bernard Colorist: Ryan Winn/Brian Reber Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/1/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital