By Robert Venditti, Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, Ulises Arreola
The crown is heavy for Aric, the man who would be king.
X-O Manowar #42 is well-done on all accounts. A dramatic storyline filled with palpable tension and high stakes coupled with gorgeous art and vibrant colors, X-O #42 “The Bridge” stands out in the “Exodus” arc.
The story picks up after last issue’s Vine plantings’ attack against the Vine refugees at the behest of Trill, who wants a war between the Vine and humans. Both sides react predictably, but Venditti has done a great job of depicting the struggle for Aric, who agonizes over his perceived failing and what his response should be.
While the action in the book revolves around the hostilities between two races, the heart of the story is pure character development. Aric has come a long way from his angry beginnings, and he hasn’t made that journey alone. Both the Vine and the humans have helped him gain perspective. Leadership is easier when lines are drawn and sides are defined by “us” and “them.” But what happens when the Manowar, who has connections to both human and Vine, is caught in a conflict between two loyalties?
Aric presides over the warring factions like a patriarch dealing with squabbling family members at an annual holiday meal. He is connected to both sides and has a responsibility to both of them as well, but they are tearing each other apart. His choice will be pivotal to earth’s future. Readers will find Aric’s immediate solution satisfying and believable. It also sets up the next issue nicely.
Artistically, there are some gorgeous splash pages and large panels in the story. They aren’t used superficially; instead they enhance the experience and help to illustrate the enormity of the situation. Sandoval’s pencils are effective and keep the reader’s eye moving. He illustrates realistically attractive people and handles spacecraft and the machinations of war with the same ease. The panel layout itself adds to the urgency of the story, being especially effective at demonstrating the conflicting viewpoints.
Tarragona’s inks are well done as usual, enhancing and defining the pencils rather than embellishing with his own style. Arreola provides a rich color palette that adds a vibrancy to the action.
X-O Manowar #42 is a satisfying and enjoyable read. A solid storyline, good character development, and beautiful art make this an essential read.