By Robert Venditti, Diego Bernard, Alisson Rodrigues and Romulo Fajardo
Twenty-nine issues in, and we have the first appearance of Aric officially being called “X-O Manowar”. Never thought we’d see the day, but the way writer Robert Venditti has slipped the name in there was flawlessly executed; it’s almost nonchalantly introduced and then everybody moves on. Brilliant.
This entire issue is both an ending and a beginning. A lot of threads from Armor Hunters are wrapped up, while new threads are unraveled. Venditti is still leaving us guessing though: Who is, really, a friend? Who is an enemy? We get answers and neat little bows by the end of this issue, but there are still a ton of questions. Enough that waiting an extra month between issues for X-O Manowar #0, though that promises to be fantastic, is just too long of a wait.
The only slight downside to this issue came from the art department. It’s slight, as mentioned, and doesn’t really affect the story or the beats that Venditti is trying to hit, but for some reason it looks like the inking is different almost from page to page. Possibly because penciler Diego Bernard inked some of his own work and Alisson Rodrigues inked the rest, but some spots just appear lighter than others. Maybe it’s an intentional tone choice. For example, some of the Malgam scenes certainly appear to have bolder blacks than, say, some of the pages towards the end or the few panels with Aric in the hospital bed at the beginning. It’s a minor issue, which certainly doesn’t affect colorist Romulo Fajardo’s always excellent work and, really, based on everything Venditti has in here, really shouldn’t take away too much, if at all, from the issue.
Intentional or otherwise, the minor inking issue shouldn’t take away from what Venditti and crew set out to do with this issue. We’re at the end of an amazing event put on by a bunch of amazing creators, and there’s something new coming just over the horizon. Next month’s zero issue should be an excellent addition to the already excellent X-O Manowar line, but #30 and the beginning of something new can’t get here fast enough. X-O Manowar continues to be the shining gem in Valiant’s crown (King metaphors work here, right?) and if nothing else, you need to pick this series up.
(Pst. You can do just that with the Valiant Comics Humble Bundle. Great comics for great causes… just saying.)