Well this issue is interesting to try and sum up. I was quite taken with the last issue of X-O Manowar. While this issue maintains a lot of the same quality, it quickly became apparent that there was almost too much going on. I don’t know if I was supposed to feel as overwhelmed as Aric as he becomes the center piece between humans and the Vine, but damn… I was feeling it. In hindsight after saying that maybe this issue is better than I thought it was. I mean I didn’t like being overwhelmed with responsibility like Aric, but at least I knew what he was going through. That and playing peace keeper to so many when war is much easier has to be incredibly difficult. I mean he basically has to the voice of reason. Now would be a good moment to point out that half of his name is literally “Man’o’war.” With all that said… damn Venditti, you’re a hell of a writer.
After finding Aric in this position we actually back track to the Vine’s previous invasion attempt. We find two humans saving the fallen Commander Trill and it’s revealed that they’re Vine Plantings. This instantly made the story feel a bit like Marvel’s Skrull, but the Skrull done in a much better way. The thing about the Skrull is that they should always be a constant threat like the Vine. I mean they have Vine that have spent their entire life as humans meaning there’s always the chance of more showing up.
Aric keeps the peace in this issue… but that doesn’t mean there will be peace in the next issue. I don’t know what will happen, but damn am I looking forward to it.
Robert Venditti continues to just dominate this series. My one and only concern is that it’s getting too political. Aric is becoming more and more entwined with people and connections. His wife, his actual people, the Vine, the U.S. Government. It definitely keeps his character interesting, but all of this seems like a build up to break him down. I want to see that. Again, when I started this review I was perhaps less in love with the story, but after chewing on it… this is a pretty damn good issue.
Rafa Sandoval is always a treat. I think his style has improved since I first saw him on a Valiant title. His work here is of the highest quality. It’s detailed to the point of being photorealistic. The “Exodus” storyline really comes across as an event book because of the quality of Sandoval’s artwork.
In particular I really enjoyed the opening sequence with the fallen Vine commander as he relives his battle with Aric. The back and forth made it feel as if it were happening again which was a nice touch. This is by far one of Valiant’s best looking books, but I do feel like I say that for each series. They have a great deal of talented people working with them and Sandoval is sitting high on that list.
I said in my last review that X-O is one of those series that you can kind of jump on and off of. I’m just beginning again with “Exodus”, but I don’t feel lost. I don’t feel confused. Even if you missed the last issue, there’s enough of the story recapped through realistic dialogue that you’d be able to catch up with the story. If you want to see a successfully executed space story taking place on earth then check out X-O Manowar, it’s the space book other series are trying to be.