by Robert Venditti, Clay Mann and Romulo Fajardo
After the large, universe changing event of Armor Hunters, and as good as the last issue was, it was actually nice to take a step back and explore Aric’s past for an issue before writer Robert Venditti and company pulls us back into the continued adventures of the X-O Manowar.
This month, Venditti takes us back to the days long before the Visigoths were enslaved and taken from Earth, back to a time where Aric was still learning to be the warrior we know and love. He depicts Aric’s first real battle, and the build up to it, it such a way that doesn’t feel forced. On the contrary, it’s smooth and fluid as the story moves from beat to beat while Venditti weaves more history and back story into this monumental character.
At times, though, when you’re reading this book you might actually forget what’s happening. ‘Why would that be’, you ask? Because Clay Mann, and colorist Romulo Fajardo, have put together where every page is an absolute masterpiece worthy of a custom frame and some wall space. From giant characters thirsty for blood, to the simplest of cross hatching on the side of a face this issue excels in every way possible. The characters are magnificent and the background scenes are sprawling and intricate to the point where you might wonder how a living human being was able to create something of this magnitude. It’s truly a case of coming for the story and staying for the art. If this issue is any example of just what Clay Mann can do, then prepare your face for his work on the recently announced Ninjak solo series.
Look, the art was beyond amazing and arguably the best thing, or at least right at the top, you’ve seen on the shelves in recent memory but don’t let that make you take Venditti’s story for granted. It’s deep and subtle and really speaks to the foundation of the character that now has the entire planet on his shoulders. Venditti is a master craftsman that’s been paired with a couple of artists who went above and beyond the call of duty and they’ve combined to create something that will stay with you long after you’ve filed it away. Consider this the new benchmark.