X-O Manowar #5 (2017)
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
― Nelson Mandela
Writer Matt Kindt is completely nailing X-O Manowar and taking the character to the next level and beyond! Kindt has chosen to make this story about the man within the armor, and in doing so, has created a captivating space odyssey with complex political realities and compelling characters. Yes, the hero, Aric, could easily use Shanhara (his alien armor) to significantly tip the balance to the favor of whatever faction he choses; however, nothing is black and white in this story, and every action has a consequence as the balance of things is affected. Aric choses to battles in almost all cases as a man, with all of the mortal vulnerabilities that come with flesh and bone. Kindt gives readers a look at what makes X-O Manowar a pillar of the Valiant Universe. He is brave, noble, fair, strategic, and (when needed to be so) violent. His battle within himself and with Shanhara give new and much needed depth to Aric. The result has been the absolute best X-O Manowar story since perhaps “Planet Death” and “By the Sword”. Truly remarkable, and visually perfect; Matt Kindt’s take on X-O Manowar is everything that is right with the comicbook industry right now. It blends the best of what made stories such as Planet Hulk, Star Wars, and Gladiator stand the test of time.
Artistically, artist Doug Braithwaite is killing it. Artist Tomas Giorello penciled issues #1 through #3, and in the process, created some of the best visuals of any comic book published in recent memory. Braithwaite took over with issue #4 (which was brilliant) and continues to impress with issue #5. To be honest, there has not been a single questionable or “bad” page since the current series launched in March of 2017. X-O Manowar has truly been the premiere Valiant title issue after issue in terms of writing and consistent quality of art. Braithwaite’s previous work on Unity and Armor Hunters demonstrated his position as a first-rate X-O Manowar artist. He masterfully captures the appropriate emotion for each moment, and also the thrill of battle and action on each page. Braithwaite is consistent with his faces and proportions, so that characters are able to be recognized by their faces as opposed to simply their costume.
Colorist Diego Rodriguez (who has colored every issue of this series so far) continues his tradition of artistic excellence working with Braithwaite’s pencils. Braithwaite (issues #4 through #5), like Giorello (issues #1 through #3), works in pencil so Rodriguez appears quite accustom to and capable of enhancing their artwork. The choice to employ Rodriguez’s talents for each issue of this series is quite smart. His color palette remains consistent so that characters, setting, and objects all remain familiar and recognizable from artist to artist, which provides a sense of professional quality and consistency for each issue.
X-O Manowar is the best comic out right now! Extremely well crafted, beautifully rendered, and perfectly presented for fans searching for everything that is right in comics today!