Review - X-O Manowar #50 (@ValiantComics)

"I am Aric of Dacia. Last King of the Visigoths of old."

X-O Manowar is a stalwart of the Valiant Universe. The character has been pivotal to the relaunch of the universe a few years ago and now he's getting some final praise as he prepares for the next phase of his life. X-O Manowar #50 from Valiant Comics gives readers plenty of things to praise the character for. "Long Live the King" is written by Robert Venditti, penciled by Joe Bennett, inked by Marcio Loerzer and Bellardino Brabo and colored by Ulises Arreola. "The Two Deaths of Gaius Maelus" is written by Fred Van Lente, illustrated by Clayton Henry, colored by Brian Reber and lettered by Dave Sharpe. "His Greatest Failure" is written by Jody Houser, illustrated by Javier Pulido, colored by Muntsa Vicente and lettered by Sharpe. "The Future" is written by Matt Kindt, illustrated by Thomas Giorello, colored by Diego Rodriguez and lettered by Sharpe.

Spanning X-O Manowar’s five-year-long impact on the people of Earth, and setting the stage for star-spanning adventures yet to come in 2017 and beyond, no comic book fan can afford to miss the ultimate cosmic battle for the fate of Valiant’s most powerful hero!

Leave it to Venditti to craft and extremely introspective and insightful tale that emphasizes the impact that X-O Manowar has had on the universe. The issue plays out much like a "This Is Your Life" and gives readers a glimpse into everything Aric has accomplished over his fifty issue run. Venditti infuses the issue with plenty of heroics that remind the reader why X-O Manowar is such a great character and he jumps between X-O Manowar introspection and the other characters fighting to save him. Venditti gives the book some great dialogue--all of which further reinforces the notion that X-O Manowar is a force to be reckoned with. The supporting stories each offer a different take on the lead character as well, further elaborating on what makes him so fantastic.

Bennett's pencils are fantastic and he offers plenty of gorgeous, two-page spreads rife with tons of action as the characters are in the thick of battle. There's very much a grandiose aspect to the issue that comes with these massive scenes and Bennett doesn't let up even when it appears the battle is calming down. Each character is rendered with sharp lines and emphatic shading, courtesy of the inks by Loerzer and Brabo. The page and panel layouts invoke a sense of curiosity in the reader as they venture down a path of exploration akin to that of Aric's. Arreola's colors are darker than expected, but it helps to add a dour sense of doom that feels pervasive throughout the issue.

X-O Manowar #50 plays out like an homage to a great character. Aric of Dacia relaunched the Valiant line a few years ago and it's only fitting that he gets plenty of feting in the final issue. Venditti's script is perfect in that it reminds the reader of all of Aric's strong qualities while also showcasing them to the reader. The artwork by Bennett, Loerzer and Brabo is very clean and sticks with the action very well. X-O Manowar #50 is a fitting ending for a strong character and it reminds readers that even the best of us deserver a proper send-off.

X-O Manowar #50 is in stores now.