It is becoming increasingly difficult to come up with new ways to express just fantastic X-O is. Valiant continues to knock it out of the park each month with this title! In a single issue there is action, intrigue, plot development, character development, foreshadowing of upcoming events, and a heck of a fight scene. So much for decompressed storytelling!
Given that there are so many plot points to spoil, I think I am just going to keep the recap vague. After being rendered unconscious last issue by the British assassin known as Ninjak, Aric wakes up on a transport plane, and he is pissed. Mayhem ensues.
I think that just about covers it.
I know it seems vague and simple. However, if I were to say much more than that, it would give away too much of the fun. Writer Robert Venditti has a strong grasp not only of Aric, but also of the world around him. Venditti realizes that characters may have similar goals, but their reasons for wanting to achieve those goals may be completely different. People can end up working together out of necessity, realizing that a reckoning of those reasons may be forthcoming. It is far more interesting and believable than suddenly everyone getting along and becoming best buddies.
Vendetti begins to lay out the plot for the upcoming arc where the Vine invade earth. Dorian gives his status report but unable to convince the Vine not to invade, despite the fact that the X-O armor has been deactivated. It keeps them as an ever-present threat, despite the fact that they are millions of miles away, and Aric is in possession of their most potent weapon. Vendetti also lays out a fairly convincing argument why the Vine is willing to go to extreme lengths to regain the armor, going so far as to destroy the earth. It is not unlike the ancient tradition of sowing the ground with salt to prevent anything from ever growing on the land again.
Penciller Lee Garbett creates a solid fight scene that works within the confines of an aircraft. He shows the difficulty an armored exoskeleton would have moving through the bulkheads and how Ninjak could (and does) use the confined spaces to his advantage. So often artists forget that there are walls and parameters on the environment they are supposed to be depicting. It is yet another way that the entire creative team behind this title is paying attention to the little details and crafting a quality comic.
Critique time. We are now six issues in to the series and there has been one female character: Aric’s wife. She spent most of her appearance half naked (she and Aric were in bed talking about the big battle the next day) and now she is dead. That has been it for women in X-O. Bloodshot has two female supporting cast members. Archer and Armstrong have had a female co-antagonist, a female assassin, a horde of female warrior nuns, and an elderly nun who was a friend of Armstrong’s and served as their guide. Harbinger has Zephyr and Livewire. So, where are the women in X-O? Given that the next issue will again feature X-O, Ninjak, and Dorian, and soon X-O will be leaving earth to fight on the Vine homeworld, t is possible that the title could go an entire year without having a significant female character. For a book that is getting everything else right, that just seems wrong.
X-O Manowar #6 is available today.