In the finale to “The Kill List” story arc, writer Robert Venditti not only crafts a compelling chapter to the X-O series, he also fills the book with some of the best constructed dialog to come from the printed page. Aric, the chronologically displaced king of the Visigoths who was bestowed alien armor that makes him very powerful, bears the burden of maintaining peace. The alien species known as the Vine who had captured Aric and enslaved him now seek refuge and protection with him. Trill, one of the Vine, won’t settle for such a truce. The rebellious general starts a revolt that finds Aric, Ninjak, the Armorines, and the freed Visigoths fighting to maintain the fragile peace in their Midwest refuge.
Not often in modern comics do we find a hero that will work hard to avoid the big battle. For Aric (formerly of Dacia now of Western Nebraska) such a desire for peace comes as uncharacteristic but wholly believable. Over the course of forty-six books we have seen a character progression in the titular hero that has evolved the character from slave to king. Readers are still treated to intense action sequences like the battle with Trill. What we also get is the progression of a character that does not have the rote storytelling process of the “villain of the month” that plagues many books. While fighting Trill, Aric claims, “Only a fool trades an honest peace—for war.” The interpretation of such a line could be taken on many levels ranging from the simple battle cry of a hero fighting a villain to a seasoned king trying to impart the difficult lesson that war isn’t the way to solve every problem.
There are many other instances of the dialog providing great entertainment in the course of the story, but I will focus on only one more. The opening narration of the Vine prayer that starts this issue but gets interrupted due to battle finds completion on the last page in the most sinister way. Bookending that line leads into the cliffhanger drawing readers to the next issue.
As Venditti comes to the milestone fiftieth issue of the series, he continues a near-perfect run of storytelling with this series. I can only imagine what he has in store for the next fifty issues since the character has so expertly progressed this far in the first fifty.
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X-O Manowar #46 - “One Truth Among the Species” Writer: Robert Venditti Artist: Robert Gill Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/20/16 Format: Ongoing, Print/Digital