by Robert Venditti & Cary Nord
First and foremost, you need to go and read Unity #1. It’s the beginning of the trouble that Aric of Dacia seems to have found himself in, and it’s a great intro to the characters and situation if you haven’t been paying attention to the Valiant Universe. Second, the art in this book is absolutely insane. Cary Nord has outdone himself on so many levels; there might not be a way to count it. His work on Conan and even previous issues of X-O Manowar has been stellar, but his work in issue #19 makes those examples look lackluster by comparison.
Since art was at the forefront of this issue, let’s talk about that first. Again, it’s bananas! The few preview pages that Valiant released some time ago do not do this justice. Nord seems to focus on the characters, and his character work is top notch, while the background is generally minimal detail or just white. It makes for an interesting contrast to pretty much the rest of the comic world, because the issue just comes off as bright. His colors are subtle, but add just the perfect layer of finishing touches to push this book over the top. It’d even be worth seeing this just black and white—similar to those “directors cuts” that DC is doing but, of course, better—because it’s just that good. There’s very few flaws, if any, that can be found in this issue and one can only hope we can get a lot more of this work from Nord.
On the writing end, Robert Venditti shines—even if he’s outshined by Nord’s work—and the story flows without interruption. We get to see Aric defending his claim as King without his armor which was an interesting look at how he was before the armor. He was never a pushover and was always a warrior through and through. It was a good reminder to readers and it was, of course, a good reminder to his people who might have been losing some faith in him. Venditti has been solid since the beginning, and this issue is just another example of why you need to be reading this series.
X-O Manowar #19 is a stellar follow up to Unity, making it even more difficult to wait for the next issue. Valiant has something special with this crossover, for lack of a better term, and as mentioned when discussing Unity Valiant has put not only some of their best talent on it, but some of the best talent in the industry right now. Bottom line, you’re a fool if you’re not checking out X-O Manowar and Unity because they rival, and arguably best, anything else on the shelf today.