Comic Review: X-O Manowar #7

Aric has donned the X-O armor up to the shoulders now, and is regularly wearing it, despite the fact that he spends time talking to the armor and telling it how it is simply a tool (poor good skin!). He’s uncovered in quick fashion that the plot of the general to bring in this monolith to subdue the Burnt had more to the equation, that the emperor made a deal with the aliens, in exchange for an artifact in his palace tower. He leads soldiers into epic battle, but is facing multiple fronts and is forced to choose which is the best course of action for the planet.

Story wise, it may be  the best issue so far. This isn’t a comic that you’re getting a big twist from, it’s not set up like a mystery reveal, but it’s interesting the way Kindt set up world-building reveals in every issue. The plot is simple — very action/adventure pulp, and that’s very fitting for a Conan The Barbarian In Space Armor story. It feels perfect for the character and the book.

It’s both extremely fast paced and yet still manages to be very single-issue contained for storylines. Each issue so far has been an escalating battle. First at a unit level, then into full armies, and now even against space invaders. It makes you wonder if the ante can really keep being upped every issue, but he’s managed to do so through seven issues so far. That’s what’s impressed me really is the fast pace and the single-issue storytelling (even though it does build into a larger arc). It’s very different than most modern comics.

The issue also has a side story, one that’s being told of the day’s events, and you can actually go back through and read the dialogue boxes in this issue by themselves (I did and I recommend doing so) after it’s done for a different perspective of the read. It’s extremely detailed and hard worked on in that regard.

Speaking of extremely detailed, it’s time to talk Clayton Crain, whose digital art graces this issue. I really loved Tomas Giorello’s original run and thought in many ways issues 4-6  with Doug Braithwaite surpassed that. Crain’s style is very much his own, you can see it on any book he touches. It’s extremely intricately painted, and beautiful on that level. I think it fit the scope of the alien invasion well and is beautiful to look at all the details within the panels. I’m a big fan and I thought the issue flowed fine like that. I did see it mentioned that it was a little tough to follow, as it’s so complicated at times with the frazzled, dark space battles it can get hard to read. This is something that happens in Crain books which I’ve seen a bit of. I believe it’s from the overuse of dark saturated colors, and a little brightness and less saturation would fix those issues, but this is his stylistic choice. It’s correct that because of that it’s not perfect, but the design of the aliens, the intricate details of every figure are so beautiful, that it may take a sec to focus and really absorb what’s going on, but it’s incredible work.

Overall, the storyline is getting even more compelling than before, even as of issue #7. It would be fine to jump on with this issue alone, but still better with the first six issues as a backdrop. If there’s one complaint I have, it’s that the wall-to-wall action doesn’t leave a ton of room for character development. There were only a couple of panels of those moments and I’d love to actually get to know some of this cast that gets explained in the opening credits every issue. There’s still not a ton of reason to care about many of them. But there are a limit to pages, and to keep this pace in which i love so much there definitely have to be some sacrifices… just like Aric has to make whenever he goes into battle (thematic!). Conclusion: Aric Rules!

10/10


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