by Robert Venditti,Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, and Ulises Arreola
From the start, writer Robert Venditti has created the world of Aric Dacia, King of the Visigoth people and the hero of Valiant Entertainment’s X-O Manowar; perhaps one the publisher’s best-known characters. Venditti can do no wrong on this title, and fans of the series have come to associate X-O Manowar with Venditti’s work on him beginning with company’s 2012 re-launch.
X-O Manowar #40 continues as the second part of the “Exodus” story arc; a story that brings together a number of plot elements (and forgotten characters) that have existed throughout the series. There is a lot of history in this story, and it is quite clear that the potential for cataclysmic events to a point of no return are present. Having read issues #1 to #40; and all connected titles, this issue was especially interesting and entertaining in that it reminded me of events and characters that have not been front and center in the Valiant Universe for quite some time, yet still have a significant role to play in the issues to come.
Venditti’s writing is exactly what fans have come to love and expect. Again, he is the definitive writer of Aric Dacia, so the text reads and feels like it should in the world of X-O Manowar. Not forced, or out of character, but exactly as it should. Venditti makes readers care about what has, is, and will occur.
Rafa Sandoval’s pencils are quite good, for the third issue in a row (Sandoval did interior pencils for X-O Manowar #38 and #39; as well as #33). He follows artist Diego Bernard who had a rather extensive run on the title (beginning with X-O Manowar #23; Prelude to Armor Hunters story arc). Considering that Sandoval has taken over from Bernard after 15 issues, his art continues with seamless transition. Fans might notice artistic or style differences, but not to such a degree that #38 through #40 would “feel” any different from previous books. It works well. Inker Jordi Tarragona (X-O Manowar #33 and #38) enhances Sandoval’s pencils with crisp, clean lines that only further enhance the quality of this book page-by-page. The team of Sandoval and Tarragona matches well, and are welcome additions to this title while bringing a slightly different style to its pages.
While #39 used color artist Brian Reber (a fan favorite and staple of Valiant’s consistent production quality) #40 used color artist Ulises Arreola (Ninjak and Imperium) to great effect. While perhaps not as well-known by Valiant fans, Arreola’s colors blend well, and add life to each page. He has done his homework, and gets everything right down to the shine and texture of Shanhara.
If you enjoy science fiction mixed with a bit of fantasy; while also making no apologies for awesome, then Valiant’s X-O Manowar is the series for you to be reading. Do it. It’s what all the cool kids are doing.