By Dustin Cabeal
I need to go back and find out how Aric lost his damn hand and when the suit started going by its name and talking because Matt Kindt’s dialogue and characterization for these two is great. It’s vastly different from what Robert Venditti was doing with the character, but in a way continues the natural progression of the character. It’s not one of those hard shifts in comics that make you miss the previous creative team, but rather appreciate them more for getting the story to where it is now. It is my great hope that Matt Kindt will be given a solid 50 issues of X-O before he hands it off to someone else that understands the character as well as he and Venditti have.
In this issue, we see the continuation of the suicide missions that Aric was assigned. That is after he goes and has a discussion with Shanhara, which I thought was just what the Vine were calling the suit, not it’s actual name. The conversation is wonderful for a great many reasons, without giving details, it shows what Aric thinks of the suit and his thoughts shape our reality of what the suit is to this world. On Shanhara’s side, the relationship between Aric and the suit is clearly defined and in a way that perhaps no other comic book character has been related before. This isn’t a Spider-Man throwing his suit away moment, but something much deeper and personal. At the end of the day Tony Stark is Tony Stark with or without the armor and whether he quits it or not is a different story. With Aric and Shanhara, there’s no quitting each other, or so it seems.
Aric is given a team and told the plan which is to dive bomb through a disintegration field… at this point, I wondered yet again what was up with this battle. There is a catch; I just can’t put my finger on it just yet. For instance, why does Ironside know so much about the field of battle? How many times has he done this and why? Aric visits Ironside, and he tells him how to get into the city without being disintegrated and that he’s again, special, once in a lifetime soldier and so on. That part is a little weird as well if you want to win the war, use the guy to do it and then kill him. Why they’re trying to kill him halfway through the damn battle is strange, especially when you clearly haven’t won the war over the course of several attempts.
The team is a bit generic except Catt, who is a member of The Burnt (great name by the way). She’s the only one that’s given dialogue worth a damn and is a murderous psycho. They get on with their journey, but everyone at first gets pissed at Aric for changing the orders and dumping them into the sewers.
What’s particularly great about this issue and the last is that we’ve yet to see Aric suit up. He’s done everything on his own thus far, and that’s been great. It proves that he’s capable without the suit, but it also means that something shitty is going to have to happen for him to put it back on. Kindt is building the anticipation for the moment, and we’ll just have to hope that it lives up to that anticipation.
Tomás Giorello’s artwork hasn’t slowed down any. Obviously, he’s way ahead of the releases which is something all readers should be happy about as we wait for the next issue. Giorello’s given Aric a distinct look out of the armor now. He’s older looking, he has the wicked “X” scar across his chest, and he’s just more man, with broader shoulders and more muscle. Giorello’s photorealistic artwork is complimented by Diego Rodriguez’s coloring which highlights the details of pencil strokes. X-O Manowar is just hands down one of the prettiest books to look at, but more than that the visual storytelling is on par with Kindt’s writing.
X-O Manowar might just be the book to beat at Valiant. It’s one of the best superhero comics I’ve been reading, but more than that it’s one of the best space adventure stories as well. We’ll see how long that holds up, but this second issue doesn’t miss a beat compared to the first issue or the first series.
X-O Manowar v2 #2
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Tomás Giorello
Colorist: Diego Rodriguez
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Valiant Comics