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X-O Manowar #30

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by Robert Venditti, Diego Bernard

The story

Now that Armor Hunters is over and his direct involvement with the Unity team is on hold, the book seems to be on pace to return to its roots as the self-contained center of the Valiant universe. With that said, issue #30 marks the start of a new arc, so this issue is definitely exposition heavy; however, having stuck around for the past 31 issues (don’t forget #0), I have come to expect that from Robert Venditti. I have also learned never to doubt the directions he is taking the character.

This book sees the official introduction of both Phillip Zahn and the Armorines. Fans of the original X-O Manowar series will definitely recognize the name of Phillip Zahn and his plot to destroy the manowar armor, though this character is not the same person. There is an Easter egg in reference to that original character which I’m curious to see how many people will pick up on.

So Zahn is one of the richest men on Earth, providing charity for the needy, while hiring out his own paramilitary group to governments around the world. There’s plenty of exposition, character development, and questions with regards to his character which I’m sure we’ll explore as the arc progresses. Robert Venditti continues to steer the X-O ship in crazy directions at a thousand miles per hour, and I am loving the ride.

The art

Of the various artists that have tackled this book, Diego Bernard continues to be my favorite and I am impressed that never once throughout his tenure on this book, has any panel lacked in the detail one would expect from a flagship book. While I’m sure Bernard will not remain on this title forever, his representation of the characters and landscape is spot on and to me, synonymous with the feel of the book. The pencils are clean and tight, and the color work by Wil Quintana is terrific and on par with the work of the rest of Valiant’s talented colorists.

Overall

X-O Manowar #30 continues to prove why this is Valiant’s flagship title. If you’re not reading this book, then you simply hate comics.

Originally from ValiantCentral.com

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  • Lee Nicholson

    Nice Review Martin.
    After all the Armor Hunter goodness, then that amazingly great Zero issue, I was really looking forward to see what Venditti and Co would do next. The first thing I will say is that the addition of Wil Quintana on colours has improved the look of the book tenfold. This is one of the best looking books I have read. Yes, Bernard is as talented as ever and absolutely nails the art, but it was the colours that caught my attention, they certainly bring the ‘WOW’ factor – this is a book that could do with a bit of brightness after all the recent doom and gloom, but from reading through this, I doubt Aric will ever catch a break. Quintana’s colours during the massacre in Iraq by the Armories, while a shocking moment, just looked beautiful. Huge Kudos to Wil.
    For the most part, I really enjoyed this issue. As I have mentioned already, it is lush to look at and Bernard and Venditti are a great tag team – the way the writing and art marry up to each other is spot on and never disappoints.
    After reading the very first page I got the impression that the direction of the book was shifting slightly. A scantily clad half naked woman lying in bed – how very Un-X-O Manowar, but a shift I imagine a lot of people liked! It turns out this said woman is the assistant to Phillip Zahn – I guess he is supposed to be a rich playboy who has everything and is after even more. He is dealing in illegal arms and off-world weaponry. He seems to be in the business of selling Alien tech to the highest bidder and doesn’t seem to care much who gets hurt in the process. He is the leader of the Armories, and he uses them to benefit himself and his company. He seems to have no qualms about sending in the Armories to a foreign land, causing a bit of death and destruction and when help is needed, he is there waiting, but for a price! He acts with impunity and is a truly evil person caught up in modern day capitalist warfare – where everyone tries to outdo each other and only the most ruthless survive.
    I can’t help but think that Venditti has positioned Zahn as the mirror image of Aric. They look very similar, both are involved in Armor of some kind and while Aric is the King of the Visigoth’s, Zahn wants to be ‘King’ of the black Market of illegal arms. While Aric has matured, grown and knows what it means to be a hero and legitimate King, Zahn wants to have it all – and he wants to destroy X-O Manowar. The lightning shift from Zahn’s penthouse office to Aric literally catching and killing and cooking his food was a powerful transition – a playboy who has it all vs a King providing for his people. You get the impression he is a tactician and while he is the stereotypical playboy figure, he is actually skilled and intelligent and he does have a purpose. But Venditti falls in the trap of ‘Daddy was too good a person, so I am going to do the opposite of him and be a proper dick of a son’ – this type of Father/Son relationship has been done so many times in the past – I’m just glad it was a one page mention, then we move on.

    I am so happy that Venditti included all of the United Nations/Politics pages – Venditti showing that the world will and can come together in the face of a planet sized threat – it makes sense that the heads of State would want to know as much as they can about this new Alien technology and potential threat. They now know that they are not alone and that there are certain individuals living among them that can pose a real threat – the resolution that is passed makes sense but I can’t help but think is a bit pointless, if Aric really didn’t want to be submitted to the inspection, he really wouldn’t do it and no one could force him – the resolution is a token law that shows the world is really legally incapable of doing anything to stop a potential alien threat. This is another mirror image – the UN passing a motion to slow down the black market sale of illegal alien arms, and yet they are employing Zahn to carry out the inspection of Aric, they are literally giving Aric to Zahn on a plate. The manufacture and distribution of said technology is happening right under their own noses.

    The more quiet panels with Capshaw, Aric and Saana were wonderful to look at. Seeing Capshaw dining with Aric and Saana was a bit surreal and unexpected, but such a welcome treat. Observing Capshaw’s face at the constant running tap really made me smile – it is these moments that I think are included for the ‘real’ fans – those who read the books and soak up all the details and appreciate little moments like a running tap – because we know what it means to Saana.

    The finale of the book could have been a bit better, but given the way the book had progressed, it would be hard to end issue 30 in a different way, having to hear Zahn want to destroy X-O is the pretty standard way to exit this issue and it sets up a potential confrontation in the next issue.

    4/5

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