X-O Manowar #46
by Robert Venditti, Robert Gill, Ulises Arreola
Offering up action and some surprising revelations, “One Truth Among the Species,” the finale of the “Kill List” arc will slay you with its murderer’s row of characters.
X-O has been a thrill ride of late, with Aric partnering with Ninjak for wide-scale intrigue in a race to save humanity from extremist cells of the Vine. All of the globe-trotting adventures have come home to roost – right in Aric’s backyard. This issue has tension, superb action, and even some nice character-defining moments for Aric. He’s truly understanding and respecting the qualities it takes to be a king. Topping it all off is the who’s who of character lists: Aric, Ninjak, the Armorines, and Commander Trill, to name a few.
While X-O can be classified as science fiction, this is a story that should ring true to readers. Writer Robert Venditti’s story mirrors our woes regarding zealots and coexistence. Here the cause is speciesism, but the commentary can easily be applied to race, religion, or creed. And just like our world, his story has those who can empathize with others not of their species, those that can bridge the gap, and those who eschew their leaders’ commands in favor of a truth they’ve discovered on their own. Venditti is careful to never paint an entire species as evil – truth is a matter of perspective after all, and on each side are those who are unwilling soldiers and those who have befriended and will protect someone of the other species. It’s a powerful statement about our own history and what may lie in our future.
Venditti has helmed X-O since its debut in 2012. Along the way, he has peppered the larger story with smaller, independent facets that raised questions but weren’t fully explored. Some of those ideas are coming into fruition as we approach the landmark 50th issue, and in a big way. Really big. No spoilers here, but suffice it to say, the final page of the book will cast a large shadow over the future. Longtime readers will enjoy seeing how events years in the making are tying together. Unlike some comic legacies, prior knowledge of the entire series isn’t necessary. New readers will be able to pick up this arc and enjoy the story as is.
Artist Robert Gill and colorist Ulises Arreola team up again to bring Venditti’s story to life. Particularly stunning are the depictions of outer space. Its peacefulness and vastness stand in sharp contrast to realities of a home thrown into the chaos of violence. Gill continues to do a fine job depicting both detailed personages and wide-aspect battle scenes. The story itself is an interesting mix of high tech and heathen, with flying armored suits and men dressed in tunics with spears set against the backdrop of the Nebraskan plains. Gill’s characters, whether a close-up study or in a panorama, always convey the emotion of the scene. There are some exciting action shots and a splash that will make readers want to cheer.
Arreola lends a sense of realism to the story, even with its aliens and lasers. His color scheme is natural, and in the panels where Gill forgoes detailed backgrounds in favor of character focus, his use of color draws the eye towards the action. This is most noticeable in the combat panels, and his work keeps the reader’s eye on target and moving through the story.
The one truth among comics is this: X-O Manowar 46 is an engaging and thoughtful story that looks as good as it reads. It’s a fine finish for the “Kill List” arc and sets up the next arc in a big way.