The wedding issue! A nice little respite after the incredibly deep and violent arc that was our last arc. A nice little breather before we ramp up into more serious matters. I’m going to let you in on a little secret regarding your ol’ pal Aaron though: I don’t like weddings. Not a fan, I try to avoid them at all costs. Too many emotions and too much free alcohol, neither of which I’m all that adept at handling. So I’m not interested in weddings as an event, as spectacle or even as concept. The very idea chaffs, so a good half of this books was the storytelling equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for me. I don’t really care about romantic relationships in media in general; my personal opinion is there is no good or interesting way to write it without debasing one or the other character. There will always be one of two outcomes, they will or they won’t, and depending on the popularity of the couple and the type of media they are in one of those two outcomes are assured at some point (Bones and that guy who was Angel = Will; Naruto and Rock Lee = Won’t). During this courtship time one of the two characters are treated more as a prize than a fully realized person and when they finally do get together you realize that you have eliminated pretty much all your motivating tension and conflict. You essentially either neuter your characters in the process or create an entirely dysfunctional relationship in the service or storytelling. Relationships in media is a corner you are just waiting to paint yourself into during any long-term story. At this point all I can do is wait for one of these characters (Aric, our X-O or Saana his now wife) to be killed and used as motivation down the road. It’s the next logical step, you give the character something to lose so that they can lose it. Bah. Its one redeeming moment, for me, was someone calling Ninjak on his shit for showing up to a wedding in full ninja gear.
The good news is that’s only one of several stories going on here and although it consists of around 20 of the available 40 pages the remaining stories more than make up for this one. There is a back-up story about Archer & Armstrong, Ninjak, Quantum & Woody and Goat attended bachelor party in Vegas where Aric the former Visigoth tries to ransack Caesar’s Palace. There is a great character story with Saana before the wedding where she talks about the qualities that make a queen and how strength of character is more important than good looks. There is a brief story of a young Aric admiring a young woman and Aric’s father telling him about the importance of treating women with respect. Finally there is an adorable little back up story featuring the ball of armor bouncing around the forest where it befriends an owl and worm duo. The armor attaches to the worm and they have fun, then the armor sees what it did to the forest when bouncing around so it attaches to the owl and they go get some trees to plant in the holes it created. It’s a cute little wordless story.
Despite my personal feelings about weddings and relationships in media this issue did quite a bit to further the character of Aric as something more than just a warrior. He uses the services of Mirage to contact his dead wife and get her permission to move on and then he has a conversation with Saana about letting go of the past and moving toward the future. It’s real character development for a character that was initially defined by his self-centered arrogance and lust for bloodshed. When there are so many cases of characters never developing it’s good to see one that continues to develop. This issue, whatever your feelings about the subject matter are, it is an important issue in both the overall story and the character. Whatever my feelings on the subject are I won’t penalize an otherwise good book just because it contains something I don’t really care for.
X-O Manowar #38 Writer: Robert Vendetti Artist: Rafa Sandoval/Jordi Tarragona Colorist: Brian Reber Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 7/1/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital