By Robert Venditti, Joe Bennet, Marcio Loerzer, Ulises Arreola, Roberto De La Torre, Dean White
Big things are happening in X-O. Part One of “Long Live The King: The Face of Gods” comes at you fast and furious. It’s an exciting story with a cinematic flair, and readers will swiftly devour each panel, anxious for the next.
Leading up to the landmark issue #50, X-O #47 kicks off a new arc. Fresh on the heels of the unresolved Vine uprising comes a new challenge: the arrival of the beings known as “The Torment.” The intertwined story of the Vine race and the X-O armor is coming full circle. As a fan, it’s great to witness the seeds of ideas planted by Venditti years ago finally taking fruit. At the same time, this issue is accessible for those with little prior experience of X-O Manowar. A brief but informative introduction captures the history of X-O in broad strokes. Then the book begins with the retelling of the story upon which the Vine religion is based.
The previous issue ended with the Vine/Human skirmish being interrupted by the arrival of The Torment. The Torment are a race of giant, god-like beings that were told of in the ancient Vine lore. Described as devourers and persecutors, The Torment enslaved the early Vine people until they were saved by the sacred Shanhara X-O armor.
Until recently, when the armor chose to bond with Aric, the Vine treated these stories as religion but had nothing but faith to back them up. Many doubted their truth, believing them to be fables. Now with the arrival of The Torment on earth, it seems that there is truth to their stories.
At least some truth. Since this is the beginning of an arc, don’t expect resolution at this point. A cursory look at this book might make some readers believe that little happens, but those paying attention to what is actually occurring amidst the chaos of the “invasion” by The Torment will realize otherwise. As it was with the revered X-O armor, the Vine’s fables have a basis in truth but don’t seem to be particularly accurate. As readers will discover, it is easy to see where some of the lore surrounding The Torment comes from, but not all. Venditti isn’t showing all his cards yet, and it seems he is holding something in reserve. Watching it play out over the arc should be great fun.
“Long Live The King” is an interesting subtitle. Generally this phrase refers to the death of the current king and the succession of his heir. In theory, this means that the throne is never empty as long as the monarchy survives. Is Venditti and company preparing to have someone else helm the X-O armor or lead the Visigoth people? Time for the fans to start speculating.
The team of Joe Bennet, inker Marcio Loerzer, and colorist Ulises Arreola take on the main portion of the story. Roberto De La Torre and colorist Dean White handle the introductory flashback scenes.
De La Torre’s introduction is a beautifully rendered history of the Vine. Visually, it marries high tech with the natural, showcasing scenes of the past encased within panels of metal and flora. His lines and backgrounds have a texture that give depth and a tactile feel to the scenes. Dean White pairs well with De La Torre, adding to the tapestry of textures with bleeds and blends. He keeps the colors of the art encompassing the panel frames fairly neutral, which allows the jewel tones of the interiors to pop.
Joe Bennet knocks it out of the park for his first time penciling interiors for Valiant. Innovative panel layout and double page spreads drive the action home, creating a palpable sense of fervor and desperation. There are some beautiful splash pages that will be on the wish list of original art collectors. Inker Marcio Loerzer, who frequently collaborates with Bennet, effectively details the line work. He varies his approach, from the light wisp of background detail lines to the deep shadows and bold outlines of the panel’s focus. Combined with the vivid colors of Ulises Arreola, the art feels as large and dramatic as the story it is telling.
X-O Manowar #47 is an exhilarating and striking book that will get your adrenaline pumping. Part of the arc leading up to the momentous issue #50, this needs to be in your “must read” pile – even if you are new to the character.