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X-O Manowar #26 (Armor Hunters)

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By Robert Venditti, Diego Bernard & Brian Reber

Armor Hunters continues to roll on, this week taking a slight turn away from the current story to fill people in about the origins, so to speak, of Malgam and Reebo. Having the first two parts (Armor Hunters #1 and Unity #8) set in the present and pulling back the scope and looking at the past for this third part is an interesting approach.

Normally speaking, there might be bits and pieces of a back story thrown into an issue that jumps back and forth to give readers story progression mixed in with an origin/back story. Writer Robert Venditti takes a more direct approach and gives us an entire issue of back story which just feels more natural than jumping around like some books tend to do. Sure, we didn’t get even a glimpse of Aric in his own book, but Venditti is a strong enough writer where, really, we didn’t need Aric. This is the beginning of the Armor Hunters as we now know it, plus there are plenty of other opportunities coming up to showcase Aric and continue the main story.

Like most Valiant titles, if not all, the art in X-O Manowar is consistently high quality, regardless of the artist working on any one particular arc. While, admittedly, Cary Nord has been a personal favorite on this title so far, Diego Bernard has done, and continues to do, a fantastic job in all aspects of this book. Spend time simply looking over his character designs for the Cantina—for lack of a better term. What? It works, shut up—and see just how good this guy is. If that doesn’t convince you, the first contact with the armor and the battle that happens shortly after is just fantastically drawn and designed. From the blurred motion during an explosion to a subtle silhouette death, Bernard shines brightly. He’s without a doubt given Cary Nord a run for his money and just might take that top spot if he keeps this kind of work up.

Not to be outdone is Valiant Veteran Brian Reber who always, always impresses. His colors in the aforementioned Cantina scene are just stellar, really making the character designs pop and distinguish themselves from one another, not to mention the entire battle scene with the “world killing” Armor. From the shield color and effects to that great death panel, Reber delivers big time. He’s certainly shown time and time again why he’s become the go-to for Valiant. If he’s not under an exclusive contract, don’t be surprised to see his name start popping up everywhere in the near future.

Armor Hunters, as an event, is the real deal folks. Valiant is pulling no punches and all the creative teams, at least so far, are at the top of their respective games. Looking for something that’s shaping up to be one of the best events in recent years? Look no further than Valiant and Armor Hunters.

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