Comic Book Review: X-O Manowar #11
All-new jumping-on point means that there is no better time to see what the X-O Manowar has been up to outside of Earth. The last time I remember reading this volume of the series, Aric was not in the best place. He was reluctantly conscripted into battle, and we had not yet figured out what happened to take the guy so far away from home and his people. The hope here is that those of us who have decided to jump back into this story can do so without the need to know too much of what already happened.
The first thing I was surprised about in this story is the development where the X-O Manowar armor is a bit more sentient than you could recall it ever being. We all know that the armors are sentient, but his was the unique kind that gave most of the control to Aric without uttering a word. In the first issue the armor did speak, but was given no room to say more than that. This shakes things up where he is wearing the suit and the suit is able to help him do some of the thinking that he wouldn’t be able to do on his own. The other development I do approve of is changing things up where Aric is now the Emperor of a planet, rather than a group of people. The experience is clearly nothing compared to what it takes to keep multiple races, cities, and the planet itself from falling apart.
One of the things I did fear that I would have missed was the introduction to these bounty hunters sent after Aric. If there’s one thing Valiant had been hyping up strongly, it was when this moment would come. Before I get into the bounty hunters themselves, credit has to be given to the source of this new danger. The people who Aric has tried to protect, better yet those who he probably actually trusted. That’s not something you would ever expect when most times the displeased people would try to carry out such acts of treachery themselves. Thinking outside the box right there was a great move. So, getting back to the hunters. Did they meet expectation? So far I would say they have. Bounty Hunters are what we had to look forward to and one of them actually had the aid of a machine like Gin-Gr. They were ruthless in approach, and had the means to take down someone powerful like Aric without too much of a hassle. Not to mention their drive and motivation is unshakable as there is nothing aside from the money that they care for. They are the kind of threat you would throw at someone who wields the strongest weapon in the universe.
The fact that there was more to this than what we were seeing on the surface was a big plus. It could have been pretty straightforward dealing with ungrateful people, but the twist to these forces working against Aric adds depth appreciated. From the tensions still existing with those who betrayed Aric, it was clear how desperate this situation is that they needed him out of the way.
This was the first time I have been exposed to the artwork of Ryan Bodenheim, and I have to say that I was impressed by what he had to offer this story along with Andrew Dalhouse on colors. Exploration and creativity is everything with a story like this and that is what engages you most. There are a number of new races and species created to take us deeper into this world. These people and the bounty hunters are unlike anything seen before. The bounty hunters in particular grab your attention on sight for being new enemies created as a means of challenging someone who has the post powerful weapon in the universe. They each looked like the kind of foe who could handle someone with powerful tech. It could have been the intimidating appearance, or the weapons they have on hand. Speaking of weapons, the introduction of BAZ-L was cool for the fact that we are again able to see how different Gin-GR’s race can be from one another. Now when it comes to Aric, seeing this warrior without the armor had a strong impact when the artist is able to capture all the damage his body has taken over the years. When Aric took his stance that he wouldn’t allow the armor to heal him with parts of itself, this is what you are left with as he carries his battle scars that are seen consistently. Andrew Dalhouse’s colors as usual were standout, and as usual I have to give recognition to the effort he puts into how organic these characters look. The skin tones and variations are excellent, as well as textures for everything else. There are plenty of effects used here to take advantage of the advanced tech used, and that made much of the action lively, and the hunters imposing.
So far the hype has been met through the initial engagement with these bounty hunters through the events of X-O Manowar #11. As an all-new jumping-on point, this creative team hit the mark in starting a new chapter without feeling as though you were missing something. All you needed to know is that Aric has come a long way from where he started. As they said, from soldier to general to emperor, and now outcast.