by Robert Venditti, Diego Bernard

Robert Venditti, you are a genius.

My love for X-O Manowar began in 1993 and I have been a huge fan ever since, but what Venditti has done with this title is incredible and his ability to expand on the mythology of the character has left me wanting more at the end of every issue. Enter the X-O Army!

Dead Hand has been a terrific arc so far, and while the build up has been slow, we have learned so much (and still so little) about the origin of the armors, and the Armor Hunter program even months after the end of last summer’s Armor Hunters saga, one of the most pulse-pounding and original comic book crossovers of the past few years. Unable to stop Dead Hand on his own, Aric calls upon Shanhara’s ever-expanding powers to call upon other armors in the galaxy to help him stop Dead Hand’s imminent destruction of Earth. The interaction between Aric and the armors is quite interesting as the armors don’t see the need to stop Dead Hand because they don’t see the need to save anyone but themselves. Having become a formidable leader in his own right, Aric presents his case to the other armors and they choose to fight alongside Aric, as he convinces them that going on this mission is ultimately the best way to ensure their own survival.

Diego Bernard continues to prove why he deserves to be the ongoing X-O Manowar artist with some amazing character designs and dynamic visual story telling. Bernard, along with inker Ryan Winn and colorist Brian Reber are at the top of their game in this book which really says a lot about not just the quality of talent which resides at Valiant, but just how the company and its creators foster creative talent.

The thread of all the armors speaking as one is interesting and a new concept to the expanding mythology and one that has me really interested to see how it will affect Aric going forward and what the lasting repercussions will be upon the title. While Aric’s character has grown tremendously over the past 36 issues, he is still a headstrong individual, and joining a sort of hive mind may not end up well for someone like him.

Overall, X-O Manowar #36 is a great step forward in what has been a terrific and exciting arc. For those of you jumping on board with Dead Hand, you may find yourselves a little lost amidst the new revelations, but for returning readers, this issue is a definite treat which has me eagerly anticipation the conclusion of the arc.

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