Last issue saw a great deal of action and a new, unstoppable villain in The Torment. This issue, on the other hand, we have a whole series of uneventful events. Aric sulks that he could do nothing to stop The Torment. He rips Ninjak a new one for doing nothing when the Torment tore up the Visigoths. While donning the X-O helmet, Aric has a vision of the Torment that reveals a little something to him, but not much to the audience. A whole panel is dedicated to Gin-gr admiring a flock of seagulls. And in the last two pages, the action hits.
I know the anticipation lies in the buildup to the big fiftieth issue, but this issue feels like such a placeholder that I wonder how the master storyteller Robert Venditti allowed this banal issue to slip by. Don’t get me wrong: X-O, even at its lowest point (like this issue) far exceeds in quality over 95% of the books on the shelves. But I know Venditti can do better than what happened in issue 48.
We, the readers, felt the dread and despair in the wake of the Torment’s attack last issue. We did not need a whole chapter of X-O dedicated to Aric and the others sitting around and crying that they just got their asses handed to them. For 47 issues Aric rose above the most insurmountable odds with a never-surrender attitude. This version of the Visigoth king feels like a brooding and whiney individual. If this is intentional for the sake of the upcoming events, then I applaud Venditti for developing a deeper side to Aric’s character and making him the modern equivalent to Odysseus lamenting over the need to go off and adventure. Hell, Venditti is a great writer, and I will more than likely be eating my words. For now, I just don’t get the point of X-O #48.
Because this book is so much better than so many comics out there, I have no basis for comparison of judgment, save for other issues in this series. Therefore, compared to other X-O chapters, issue 48 struggles from lack of any action that propels the plot or explores character.
Achieving one issue of a comic is a milestone. Getting to number fifty deserves accolades, especially when the book redefines the action comic genre. But I will not let Venditti off the hook when he offers a placeholder episode like this. Work up to a big story milestone, like you have done before, Mr. Venditti. Do not temper your pacing with such a lull prior to the big moment. Build action with action. You have achieved it so well before, don’t let us down now.
[su_box title="Score: 3/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]
X-O Manowar #48 Writer: Robert Venditti Artist: Joe Bennett Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital