Last week, Valiant’s newest title, Unity, hit the stands after a long period of build-up. While Unity discusses the titular team’s reaction to Aric of Dacia’s invasion of Romania, X-O Manowar showcases Aric’s side of the conflict. This week’s issue provides us with a perspective from everyone’s favorite Visigoth fighting machine. How does this latest issue stack up and does the tie-in seem to be working?
Reckoning has finally come for Aric of Dacia. While the ideal of reclaiming his ancestral homeland seemed like a good idea, such a course of action cannot stay unnoticed in the modern world. Though Aric survived his first battle with Harada’s forces and captured Ninjak, he still must face dissent at home as he awaits the inevitable next strike.
Writer Robert Venditti sets this issue up as a bit of a breather after the events of Unity #1 and the most recent issues of the “Homecoming” arc in X-O Manowar. We’ve seen Aric on the battlefield the last few issues, so it’s nice to see things slow down a bit to analyze the state of affairs in the Visigoth camp and prepare for the next wave of battles. Volo’s challenge to Aric’s leadership reaches a boiling point, and I love how that conflict was resolved. I also like that this issue gave us a great exploration of Aric’s character showing us that, while he is a warrior at heart, he still shows respect and reverence for his enemies. Ninjak’s characterization in this issue was a lot of fun, too, and allows the reader to learn more about this highly mysterious but downright awesome character.
Artist Cary Nord takes the helm in this issue, his work accounting for the entirety of the art. I’ve enjoyed Nord’s work on earlier arc’s of this series, but have never seen an installment where he handles colors as well as pencils. The results are astounding: Nord draws with a refined, somewhat dream-like quality, enhanced by his use of dull, soft colors. There’s a lot of subtlety to this art, which works very well for an issue that’s about intrigue more than combat. That’s not to say the action isn’t exciting; the brief moments of violence are visceral and expressive. The only complaint I level against the art is that some of the background Visigoths were drawn as little more than stick figures, which to me stuck out like a sore thumb on a few pages.
X-O Manowar #19 is a great progression of Aric’s story. Given the high octane events of Unity, this issue offered the perfect segue to future events by examining the human and political elements behind the conflict. This issue is also a fairly decent jumping on point for new readers, though I’m not sure they will appreciate the events without reading the “Homecoming” arc that covered issues #15-18. I’m loving what Venditti and Nord are doing with these characters, and look forward to the upcoming story lines.
-excellent story that examines Aric’s persona and motivations
-great art that shows the range of Nord’s talents
-more exploration of Ninjak and Volo’s characters
-background characters often appear like stick figures which can be drawing
-lack of action may turn off some readers
Brett Simon is a twenty-four year old comic enthusiast. He wonders if Ninjak has a sister named Ninjil.
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