Friday, May 13, 2016

Review - 4001 A.D. X-O Manowar #1 (@ValiantComics)


"We looked to the one weapon that could match New Japan's arsenal. The one weapon even Father could never replicate. The X-O Manowar armor."

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And more often than not, such desperation prompts people to make decisions that might seem bold and even dangerous. Such decisions are made in 4001 A.D. X-O Manowar #1 from Valiant Comics. The issue is written by Robert Venditti, illustrated by Clayton Crain, colored by Brian Reber and Andrew Dalhouse and lettered by Dave Sharpe.

How did the rise of Earth’s most powerful hero lead to humanity’s ultimate destruction? Just what was the War of the X-O Manowars…and how did its catastrophic fallout bring ruination and despair to a besieged planet? And why is the sacred extraterrestrial armor called Shanhara the one weapon Father fears more than any other?

Father is being positioned as the Valiant big bad, yet Venditti spends about two lines of dialogue to make Father out to be such a villain; instead, Venditti focuses more on the X-O Manowar armor's role as a symbol of hope. The bulk of the issue is centered on how powerful the X-O Manowar armor is and it's only when squaring off against Father does the reader realize that even the armor might not be enough. Venditti excels in pacing the issue in a way that the reader can feel the plot building up until it reaches a crescendo. From that point though, it's clear that Venditti wants to remind the reader that if Father were easy to beat then Valiant wouldn't be pinning their entire summer on the massive event. There's something about the way that Venditti wrote the issue that begs the reader to commiserate with the characters in their attempt to stave of Father.

The artwork supporting the plot by Crain is gorgeous. Crain relies on very simple and very clean lines throughout, offering a relatively minimalist approach to the action that allows the story to flow rather effortlessly. The appearance of the X-O Manowar armor is massive and bulky, giving credence to the belief that humanity might actually stand a chance against Father. Inset and overlay panels give the book a diversified look that keeps the action humming along. And the color work by Reber and Dalhouse is subtle yet effective in differentiating each country's contribution to the fight against Father, rendering each landscape differently and providing a variety of bold colors to define the action.

Valiant Entertainment certainly isn't being shy in making Father out to be a tremendously feared villain and that characterization continues in 4001 A.D. X-O Manowar #1. The issue is largely a primer on the downside of hope and how it can go from inspiring people to demoralizing them. Venditti's script is breezy and does a great job of introducing readers not familiar with Father to the character while still capitalizing on the traits that make X-O Manowar so revered. The artwork by Crain is concise and presents a picture to the reader that's equal parts action and reflection. 4001 A.D. X-O Manowar #1 is another great entry from a great publisher that sets down another path to pursue in the overarching 4001 A.D. crossover event.

4001 A.D. X-O Manowar #1 is in stores now.

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