Review - Book of Death: The Fall of Manowar #1 (@ValiantComics)

"Did he for real fight a giant robot?"

The issue is written by Robert Venditti, illustrated by Clayton Henry, colored by Andrew Dalhouse and lettered by Dave Sharpe.

The Book of the Geomancer foretells of a deadly future for the Valiant Universe... but what if the future holds hope for one powerful hero? After hundreds of years in exile on an alien planet, Aric of Dacia has returned to an unfamiliar Earth, only to find a planet that doesn't remember... or want him. Will Aric of Dacia fi nally find happiness in the aftermath of the apocalypse?

As the bedrock of the Valiant Universe, X-O Manowar has always been something of a larger than life figure for the Valiant universe--a reputation Venditti capitalizes on for Book of Death: The Fall of Manowar #1. The issue is primarily a reverence of Aric of Dacia and his role as the one chosen by the X-O Manowar armor, with two different audiences paying their respects. Venditti does a great job of balancing both entities focused on X-O Manowar, where the Vine arrive to a somewhat mundane event with Aric's legacy at the center. And for as much as the issue spends revering X-O Manowar, at the same time it provides valuable insights into his latter days as his reign as X-O Manowar and even the seemingly impossible decisions he had to face at that time. The dialogue exchanges help bridge the past and present quite cleanly, with Venditti's style effectively offering narration of the events that feels natural.

There's a clear familiarity with Aric of Dacia in his appearance, courtesy of Henry's working knowledge of the character. The X-O Manowar armor looks organic and reflects the age of the bearer well, as evidenced by Henry's portrayal of a broken down Aric. When the armor is passed onto the next recipient, Henry reinforces its look with the requisite characteristics of strength and sleekness that come with the armor. It's a great visual contrast for the sake of offering readers a look at the armor at various points in time. Delhouse's vivid colors give the book the feel of a bright countryside, bolstering Aric's claim as a genuinely well-liked and respected hero.

Book of Death: The Fall of Manowar #1 is a title that buries the lede in some respects. Readers will likely expect a book where X-O Manowar is part of a brutal, violent battle, but instead it plays out as more of a "this is your life" format, but it works really well. Venditti offers the two "competing" affections as a means of paying respects to X-O Manowar for all the good he did as the hero in the armor, both of which bring with them various forms of respect. Henry's artwork is clean and simple, yet effectively demonstrates that even time catches up to the greatest of heroes. Book of Death: The Fall of Manowar #1 is a great book that fits within the Valiant Universe and gives readers a glimpse into those who are worthy to bear the X-O Manowar armor.

Book of Death: The Fall of Manowar #1 is in stores now.