Comic Book Review: X-O Manowar #22
This story arc for X-O Manowar #21 has been one heck of a jumping-on point for fans of this character. Aric has been through some stuff, and clearly he has brought much of that baggage with him back to Earth. This mission was the best way to direct all of that frustration and thirst for battle to keep the guy going with purpose. David Camp and his madness was also the kind of motivation someone like him needed to push to some limits that he hasn’t before. This was one heck of a situation that himself, Atom, and company got themselves into facing some fantastical creations from divine power.
The way that we jumped back into this battle was intense for the realization of how formidable David Camp has become since stealing this divine power for his own use. It takes some otherworldly powers to give the X-O Manowar a run for his money, but you would have never expected that kind of power to be wielded by the likes of Camp. Even if this was going to end as a victory, there’s no telling what kind of form that would have taken when Aric was to some extent severely outmatched by a power which made his armor malfunction. A great air of suspense mixed with the extremity that came with our heroes thrown into a state of mind where they were ready to put this to an end. The artwork is what sold this scene. I don’t think this would have carried the same appeal if this art team did not handle it the way they did. They treated this stage in the battle as if it was something out of a war movie. Juan José Ryp and Andrew Dalhouse really did push reality to its limit. As I said above, these were some fantastical creations from David Camp on a cosmic scale, yet at the same time there was the brutality of two highly motivated forces to see the other stopped in their tracks. No one pulled punches here and you couldn’t have asked for a better product from it.
Their approach towards concluding this confrontation was clever for the fact that this could have ended a lot messier than it started. This creative team chose a path that wisely satisfied the needs of this story being able to find continuation, instead of a full-on halt. Where Valiant as a whole tends to succeed is that stories like this always leaves room for more to return to. It may not even be in X-O Manowar, but a loose end like what we got here can be picked up by another story that can still connect to this in some way.
How this story ended for Capshaw was pretty monumental. We may have skipped over what she was up to on her own, but the end destination was a bit more pressing for those of us who really needed to get a taste of what the future had in store for this woman who was betting everything on this mission going successfully. I’ll admit that they got me at first because of her narration of events throughout this issue. It led us to believe one thing, but turned out to be another outcome entirely from her perspective. Things can never be the same for Capshaw, but I do want to see how someone like her moves forward given the importance she carries as someone who knows how to work her way around alien situations. Where the L.O.V.E.B.O.A.T. fell at the end of Harbinger Wars II, something new took its place in the best of ways.
Again, the art team of Juan Jose Ryp and Andrew Dalhouse were perfect for bringing the cosmic beauty of Eternity to Earth in this story. These guys never skipped a beat in character creation, design, and the way that these things clashed when the time came for battle. Especially if we are pointing out the unique style that they tackle the way that Aric’s X-O Manowar armor works. In other words the way it breaks apart, reassembles, and even the kind of energy weapons he is able to create at the same time. The effect for the way that these foreign energies interacted with his armor was also cool for the coloration of his aura and again how it malfunctions. With that said, the battle was brutal, but I’m also glad it was not over the top. They knew exactly how far to take this where you could still admire everything elegant about New Eden in spite of the battleground it was turned into. Beyond this, the colors made all the difference in setting the tone for this last stretch of the story. The depth to the colors used, the tonal overlays, the consistency in quality, all led to a blockbuster-like atmosphere created from the finished product.
Lets take us back to my original statement at the start of this story arc. When you want to genuinely challenge Aric, how do you challenge the guy who wields the most powerful weapon in the universe? You throw something at him that exists outside of it! Credit where it is due for this creative team tackling a story that perfectly bridges the events of Divinity to this series.