4001 A.D.: X-O Manowar #1
by Robert Venditti, Clayton Henry and Brian Reber w/ Andrew Dalhouse
The “Summer of 4001 A.D.” Valiant event is in full swing and if you’ve been keeping up and paying attention, it’s pretty clear already that this is going to be something special. Valiant has thrown their focus to the year 4001 A.D. and the struggle between Rai and “Father”, the A.I. that rules over the floating city of New Japan. Since Rai started, anybody who’s been reading Valiant has had a ton of questions in regards to the world that Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain have so intricately created and now, finally, we just might get some answers.
Venditti, the architect of X-O Manowar from the very beginning of Valiant’s return, jumps forward past the current storylines to give the readers a little background on part of the Kindt/Crain issue of 4001 A.D. with this nice, clean, one-and-done issue. Venditti’s book, while not really something that adds a ton into the main 4001 A.D. storyline, answers a few questions you might have had after reading the first issue of the main series. Plus, it’s Venditti writing here, so how can you go wrong with that? The characters are excellent, the story is fully realized and there might even be a surprise character or two working for Father to keep New Japan on top–pun not intended.
We also get a good showing on art from longtime Valiant artist, and recent hand behind Ivar, Timewalker, Clayton Henry with color duties going to the always magnificent Brian Reber and Andrew Dalhouse. Henry’s style leans more towards the cartoony look, but it works here–as it has the entire time he’s worked at Valiant, of course–and it’s near impossible to find a flaw with anything here. The flawlessness continues with the colors, but that should come as no surprise if you’ve ever picked up a Valiant book. Reber, with Dalhouse, really hit every panel perfectly and it’s almost becoming too routine for these guys. Just once, lets see them color something weird or “wrong”. Would it kill you guys to color the X-O armor lime green, for once?
Between Venditti, Clayton and Reber this one-off issue is fun, enjoyable and while not Earth shattering, it does provide some revelations from the first issue of 4001 A.D. This is a tasteful little bite off of a much larger event and, frankly, this is the kind of thing we need more of in the world of comics, especially if the whole “event” thing is going to continue amongst the shared universe publishers. This book is not required reading, but it’s the perfect pick-up for readers looking to dive a little deeper or for those Valiant diehards we all know and love that just need to know every little bit of what’s happening. Hell, even for those who might not have read X-O Manowar prior to this, this could be the spark to finally get you to pick up the series that, arguably, has been the standout amongst many giant books since 2012.