by Robert Venditti, Diego Bernard, Brian Reber

X-O Manowar remains the flagship title for Valiant and with good reason, as Robert Venditti continues to steer this book into incredibel new directions. This week’s issue #34 sees the beginning of a new arc which is sure to have major repercussions for Aric and reveal further information about the origins of his armor as Dead Hand picks up right where the Armor Hunters arc left off.

If you are new to the series, fear not. As with every new arc there is plenty of background given on the story that came before. For returning readers who experienced Armor Hunters last summer, one of the best company-wide crossovers of the past decade, there will be plenty for you to enjoy here as well. The book kicks off with a bang as the remaining Armor Hunters on the planet Gennin are attacked by a group of armors returning to their homeworld apparently ready to take revenge on those who have hunted them.

We also get a bit of information as to just what Dead Hand is and I have to say I love the concept, and the personification of Dead Hand is almost as fun and interesting as when Gin-GR was first introduced. Robert Venditti has created something truly beautiful and unique in this issue.

Of course, credit must be given to the art team with Diego Bernard on pencils and Brian Reber on colors. Bernard has served the art on this book for quite some time and yet the polish in his pencils continues to amaze me. From the new armor designs introduced, to the beautiful environments of the planet Loam, to the vastness of space, Bernard is at the top of his game.

Huge props go out to Ryan Winn for helping round off Bernards pencil work with his inking skills – this guy is a genius. Inkers don’t generally receive the credit they deserve in a book and Winn is among the best in the business. Speaking of which, Brian Reber on colors, what else can be said? Reber is like a ninja attacking the page with his sharp color choices which always manage to give the art that extra kick.

X-O Manowar #34 is another great issue to a series which has been firing on all cylinders since issue #1. If you’re not reading X-O Manowar, you’re missing out on one of the most skillfully written and illustrated titles in the industry today.

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