‘X-O Manowar’ #23 Comic Review: Action, More Action, and Beautiful Art
It’s been a while since I’ve checked in on the Valiant Universe.
Re-launched in 2012, Valiant comics hit the ground to major fan and critical acclaim. The publisher has since carved out a permanent space in the comics market by refining the pure 90’s comic aesthetic of their roots. Their first wave of books delivered solidly told action stories in shared universe small enough to feel cohesive out of the gate. X-O Manowar led the way as their flagship title.
For those unfamiliar with X-O and Aric of Dacia, ask yourself “what if Conan ended up in the present with Iron Man’s armor?” The backstory is a lot more complicated (because comics) – involving alien abduction, extraterrestrial religious prophecy, time dilation, and shadowy government agencies – but the end result is “sword wielding badass gets super-armor.” That’s something I can get down with.
In issue #23, Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT) delivers a script that’s heavy on action, light on frivolous captions and dialog. Based on extremely scientific calculations, this comic is 64% explosions, and there’s a lot of fun to be had in that.
It’s also visually pretty beautiful. Tomás Giorello (Conan, Winter World) delivers top notch action with a touch of refinement. He uses space and panel layouts creatively, often layering action on top of action. Colorist Diego Rodriguez (Back to the Future) lends a dreamlike oil painting quality to many pages. Together they team to create art that elevates the book, while drawing some pretty bizarre, fun material.
X-O Manowar #23 is billed as the start of a new arc, and a good jumping on point, and it lives up to that promise fairly well. As someone who hasn’t read X-O in several years, there was a lot of catching up to do. The comic opens with a couple of crazy looking armored space guys blowing up robots, decapitating one, and riding off in it’s body, ominously bound for earth. Arriving on earth, the robot crushes a helicopter in one hand, while some shadowy government types observe from B.O.B. (Biosphere Observation Base). I have no idea if I should know who any of these people are, but the action is fun, and I think that’s the whole point.
Cut to Aric, Doing Heroic Things Whilst Brooding In Internal Monologue. It’s a tried and true comic book device, and it works here for exposition and character exploration. Kindt doesn’t dwell there too long, jumping right back into fights and explosions after few pages. All in all, it’s an entertaining, action packed comic.
If you can appreciate a comic with “less talky-talky, more punchy-punchy” X-Manowar is probably your jam.
X-O Manowar #23 is available in comic shops and online January 23rd, 2019.