Review: X-O Manowar #39

X-O Manowar is a series I’ve jumped on and off of for both review and reading. There’s always something to bring me back and with this latest storyline “Exodus”, I became very curious as to what’s going on in the story. Before I get into that I wanted to talk about what I like about Valiant and their continuity as it reminds me a lot of what Marvel was like ten years ago before the movies really started to effect the way they handled their books and publishing schedule. Now, Marvel almost regroups after each yearly event. They need that event otherwise writers get too far ahead and leave readers behind.

With Valiant’s, everything is happening at the same time, but rather than throttle back a story for an event, they either let a series breath and continue or plan far enough ahead that the series lines up with the event. This has been done numerous times, so many that you can basically pick any series and there will be an example. The event doesn’t reset or pull every title up to the same exact point, but rather just remind you that this is a shared universe and events will affect the landscape of everything from time to time.

That brings be to “Exodus” which has nothing to do with the Book of Death which is running right now as well. That doesn’t mean that this story isn’t important, just that the story happening in X-O was more important to the series than a tie-in… something every publisher could learn from.

XO_039_COVER-A_SANDOVALTo put it frankly, the Vine have returned to earth and to X-O’s chunk of land. They view him as their savior and they want their remaining people to land to settle alongside Aric’s people. The problem being that there are thousands of them. It has this tip of the hat to District 9 in a way, but then it all goes terribly wrong because that’s not how Robert Venditti works.

It’s how it goes wrong that’s really interesting. A pilot that’s been named a war hero is suffering from PTSD of the alien variety and let’s be honest, I think most people would have this in general if aliens just popped down and started killing people by the thousands or it would be like Alien Nation. The point being is that this one pilot changes the landscape of Aric’s world.

That is definitely one of the stronger aspects of Venditti’s writing on this series, each story arc feels important to the world. And it really feels as if any storyline could at any point play an important role in the character’s development. Comics have so few surprises now-a-days. If you’re going to change a character dramatically you can expect a press release or a spotlight in USA Today or the NY Times, you know, news jurnos that take on heavy comic stories. It’s just nice to be surprised by a story in which the driving force is a pilot with xenophobia.

Rafa Sandoval continues to be one of the best penciler’s in Valiant’s stable of talent. In general I think that Valiant has great art and that they seem to have found artists that want to continue working with them rather than straying to other publishers for perhaps better pay or the chance to illustrate a character that everyone and their mother has done to death on DeviantART. Sandoval’s illustrations are clean and detailed bringing a realism that’s needed for this iteration of X-O.

He doesn’t do this alone though as inker Jordi Tarragona keeps the artwork clean and the shadows to a minimum. I hate over done shadowing unless that’s the intended style of the artwork. Another player in the process is the talent Brian Reber. I don’t know how long Reber’s been in the biz, but he’s definitely gotten my attention more and more since joining Valiant as one of their best colorists. Overall the art team is synced up and producing great visuals.

In my personal opinion, if you know anything about X-O Manowar, it’s enough to be able to jump on the series at the start of a storyline. It’s not going to perfectly recap the series for you because no comic really is. Even a numbering reboot doesn’t ensure that you’ll know what’s going on in story, but with the start of “Exodus” it’s a nice place to jump on and get back in the mix of things with X-O.

Score: 4/5

X-O Manowar #39 Writer: Robert Venditti Artist: Rafa Sandoval Inker: Jordi Tarragona Colorist: Brian Reber Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 8/12/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital