Robert Venditti, Francis Portela, BIT, Andrew Dalhouse
More than just an origin story, Commander Trill #0 enhances the ongoing X-O Manowar storyline by adding much-needed depth to a key antagonist and to the cultural mythos of the X-O armor.
As with most #0 issues, the book focuses on the early years of a major character. The Vine military commander Trill, the driving force behind confrontations in the current arc of X-O, is the focus of this book. The story stands well on its own, yet unlike most #0 issues, it ties directly into the timeline of the main X-O story. That makes this book a satisfying addition to the lore rather than feeling like filler.
Writer Venditti, whose latest arc of X-O Manowar has been one of his strongest, does a fine job of providing insight into the workings of Trill’s mind. Through the story, we gain an understanding of Trill’s motivations and beliefs, which adds credence to his actions in the larger X-O world. We’re shown his personal experiences and ties to the armor throughout his life, and the symbolism of his actions can’t be missed. While there is action in the story, this piece is more character-driven, and necessarily so. Readers will come to realize that Trill is more than a mere fanatic; he is the culmination of a belief system and his own personality quirks, which drive his actions throughout his life. His history is interesting, and there’s a surprise for fans of ’90s era X-O as well.
Artist Francis Portela pencils the story. His smooth lines lessen the alien-ness of the Vine, making their race and history more relatable to readers. The world building in the issue is nicely done, offering readers a view into the architecture and cultural norms of the Vine society. There is a standout panel that innovatively illustrates the wheel of time and the armor itself. There is also a nod to the work done previously by Cary Nord, tying in the lore of the armor and illustrating the history of the Vine.
Inks are provided by BIT (Javier Bergantiño), new to Valiant. Like Portela’s lines, the inks are smooth and enhance the imagery without ever jarring the reader out of the story’s spell. Andrew Dalhouse (Unity, X-O Manowar, and Ivar, Timewalker) colors Trill’s world and memories with a mostly neutral palette, placing emphasis on the ceremonial. This effectively lends to the readers’ understanding of the events and cultural aspects that have been pertinent to Trill’s development.
X-O Manowar: Commander Trill #0 is an enjoyable storyline that enhances the ongoing X-O saga. Tying in with current events, it also shines a spotlight on an important antagonist, giving both him and his pathos understandable depth. X-O fans should definitely pick this one up.