By Robert Venditti, Diego Bernard and Wil Quintana
So if you’re keeping up, the last issue of X-O Manowar had a few jaw dropping moments and left us with a terrible sense of dread and an absolute mess with worry for everybody’s favorite alien-armor wearing barbarian. Leave it to writer Robert Venditti to toy with our emotions and then tell us to wait an entire month to find out what happens. That guy can really be a pain sometimes…
Okay, he might be a pain and he might put ol’ Aric through the ringer time and time again but, damn, does he ever do a fantastic job. Enter Armories is the short follow-up to the mega crossover Armor Hunters and quite frankly it has not only been a fantastic little arc, all stress aside, but it was nice to more or less zoom back in on Aric and the X-O armor for a few issues instead of having the entire Valiant Universe in the picture. Armor Hunters was fantastic, don’t mistake that last statement, and arguably the best crossover in comics in 2014, but going back to similar, Aric-centered stories is a fantastic treat. If the next big arc, starting in X-O Manowar #34 after what appears to be a one-shot (for lack of a better term), Dead Hand is as big as it’s starting to seem, we’re all going to be thankful for this little break in between.
With all the crazy, over the top action scenes and insane badassery from Aric, Diego Bernard might have just completed his best issue of X-O Manowar to date. That feels like déjà vu, because every single time this book is out it feels like Diego just gets better and better but it’s the absolute truth. Some of his Aric close ups are the best we’ve seen of him and all the emotion and rage he’s feeling at that particular moment just seem to burst off the page. Diego Bernard’s insane ability to make all fight sequences look fantastic is jacked up to eleven for the battle between Aric and Zahn and his armor designs, while maybe not as fancy as Aric’s, just look great. Particular props go to him for the sideways page reveal of Zahn in his final form (that’s right, I went there) which undoubtedly should be a shirt or poster or something, it was that good.
Of course, Diego Bernard’s work is fantastic. It would look good in black and white, no question, but colorist Wil Quintana’s work takes all of Diego’s fantastic work and somehow makes it even better. It’s just insane how great this book looks from these two amazingly talented creators. All the colors are just amazing, particularly the effects used to make Aric’s energy sword really pop while still looking as deadly as it is.
Another arc, or maybe mini-arc, of X-O Manowar wraps and you know what they’ve all managed to do? They’ve managed to not only continue to add to Aric, the VU and the great stories being told so far, but they’ve managed to make this book even more must-read. Just when you think they can’t stop themselves or make this book any better than it has been, they do it. There’s no better time to start reading Valiant than right now. Pick these issues up, or the next ones, or all the ones before it, as long as you’re picking this up it really doesn’t matter where you start.