X-O Manowar #36

by Kalem Lalonde on May 12, 2015

Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Diego Bernard

After hearing so much praise for Valiant comics, I could not resist at least picking up one of their titles. I started my Valiant reading with X-o Manowar, hopping on board to Robert Venditti’s latest space epic, “Dead Hand”. Unfortunately, I was a tad underwhelmed by the first issue of Dead Hand but I saw the potential in the storyline. Potential that continues to be tapped into since the story’s sophomore issue. X-O Manowar #36 is mostly a set-up issue but that doesn’t hold it back from being great. As Aric is facing his biggest challenge yet, X-O Manowar is proving itself as one of the rare comics that lives up to its hype. 

Whereas, issue 2 of Dead Hand was fast-paced and action-packed, issue 3 is a little calmer but still advances the plot at a solid pace. After his defeat in the previous issue, Aric must raise an army to fight and defeat Dead Hand before it reaches Earth. He turns to the other Armors to help and the issue that ensues is a well-written set-up for an epic battle with Dead Hand.

Whereas I didn’t think that Aric was too likeable in the first chapter of Dead Hand, his appeal is completely obvious to me, now. He feels like an epic combination of Thor, Captain America and Green Lantern in the best way possible. His honor and his dedication to helping the Vine are both compelling aspects that make this warrior a hero. Venditti’s portrayal of Aric would be strong enough to hold this comic on its shoulders but Venditti also incorporates great elements of mythology into this issue.

The mythology of the Armor of Shanhara is something that greatly intrigues me. I feel like I’m missing out on a lot of information given that I jumped on with Dead Hand but this armor feels like a cooler version of the Green Lantern’s ring. It grants regular people incredible powers, yet where they differ is in their arrangement as a group. The bearers of armor aren’t an organized police force but seem to work independent of one another. The other bearers presented the most interesting aspect of this comic as Venditti uses them to set up a massive battle in the next issue. It might be set-up but it’s very well-written set-up.

Diego Bernard returns to handle art duties and continues to display the impressive tapestry of artwork at Valiant. Given their lesser popularity, I assumed that Valiant may not have the best art but I was extremely wrong. Valiant hire top tier artist and Bernard is a great example of them. He’s able to perfectly convey the scale of this story’s villain and does not falter in the smaller moments. His handle on Aric’s character is great and the designs for all the others bearing armor were phenomenal. Bernard can draw epic space battles and powerful emotional beats and that’s exactly the type of artist you need for a story like this.

X-O Manowar #36 sets up the epic battle to come heading into the conclusion of this grand space-epic. Robert Venditti’s handle on this world and this character are extremely compelling and he takes this slower issue to let this situation sink in as he builds the characters. Venditti is a writer that continuously finds ways to top himself in terms of scale and Dead Hand feels like one of the most epic comics he has ever written. 

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