by Robert Venditti, Diego Bernard, Ryan Winn and Brian Reber
The consequences of Dead Hand, or rather the aftermath of its actions, play out as you might have expected from the last issue. This unstoppable, uncaring machine (made of machines) is systematically taking apart the galaxy in order to cleanse the infection of the armors and all who have, or one day might, bond with it. As intense as that prospect is, especially considering what their next target likely is, one can’t help but wonder about that last scene in X-O Manowar #33 and what has become of that newly budded planet bearing very familiar fruit…
Writer Robert Venditti has placed the weight of worlds–the lives of billions–squarely on the back of Aric in the face of this new threat and it’s a wonder that this man hasn’t broken under the pressure of it all. To have that kind of responsibility, and in the face of odds like this, it’s hard to think that any man from this century would be able to cope as well as this time displaced Visigoth has. Time and time again Aric as gotten up and dusted himself off and come back harder and stronger than before all the while growing as a person and a character. Venditti is a master craftsman in that respect, but you really have to wonder just where Aric’s breaking point is; what does Venditti have to throw at him to finally push him over the edge. It’s a hard question to answer, but with Dead Hand we just might find out.
The trio of artists, Diego Bernard (penciller), Ryan Winn (inker) and Brian Reber (colorist) once again put there skills on display in a big way and really continue the fantastic trend of great art going hand in hand with great story–something that any Valiant fan has long become accustomed to. Pencils, inks and colors come together in a magnificent way, particularly, once again, during the space sequences, and whenever Aric wields the energy sword. It does, however, feel that at a few points, maybe towards the end of the issue, the art dips ever so slightly and a face looks a little different or some detail might not be quite as it should, but really it’s a minor few points that likely come with the territory of a monthly scheduled book. Sometimes things just stick out more when the quality has been as near to perfect as you can get for so long.
A few, likely nit picked panels does not take away from the story that Venditti and company are building towards. While, certainly, the art might not be at exactly the same level that has been maintained for so long, it still stands up against the vast majority of other books on the shelves. X-O Manowar, even though it has some competition in a few of the other titles Valiant has been producing lately, is still the crown jewel of the Valiant lineup and it’s still most certainly a book that you need to be reading. Now is the time to jump into the Valiant Universe, folks, so jump in!