Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Clayton Henry
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
As Valiants Book of Death event comes to a close, I have no issue with saying that it was my favorite event of the year, as I feel Secret Wars has become waaay too long. While the main book has been solid since issue 1, the biggest surprises for me were the tie ins, which have all been some of the best quality I’ve seen from the company. With that, I had to pick up Fall of X-O Manowar.
While XO isn’t my favorite Valiant character, the chunk of that series that I’ve read has been compelling and I think Venditti has a really good grasp on the world and character. To follow the trend of the tie ins, this issue shows us the last days of XO, and furthermore how the XO armor continues on. In his final days, we see the empire built by Aric, and in addition to seeing Aric himself in a flashback, we see his legacy as his tomb has become place for citizens to visit and pay their respects to his life. Commander Trill, a “Vine” alien that readers of the series know very well, has changed from enemy to fanatical follower and has come to earth to reclaim the armor and body of XO to be taken to his homeworld. We come to find out that Aric has passed on an armor to his daughter Jhukka, but ends up having himself more or less inside of it, as he can communicate to his daughter even after his body has passed on. Venditti uses this to show the power of the armor, and Jhukka’s character shines through, as it’s clear that even though she’s her own person, Aric’s influence is incredibly strong. All of these tie in stories have been very heartfelt, and this one is no different. Even though XO’s stories are usually universe-spanding, this was an excellent personal story. While it didn’t blow me away like some of the others, I certainly liked it cover to cover.
For the Valiant reboot we saw a few years ago, there a a handful of artist that immediately come to mind. One of those is Clayton Henry, so seeing him on this book was no surprise. I really enjoy his clean style, which really allows his cartooning to shine from panel to panel. For Superhero storytelling, there tends to be a decent chunk of posing sometimes, but for artists like Henry, it’s nice to see an emphasis on cartooning (seemingly). Also, I love the way he draws the armor here, with the helmet being a Lions head. I’ve always thought the XO armor was already an excellent design, but that slight touch adds without making it too over the top. Sometimes I feel I loose a little with the backgrounds being a little sparse, but his figure work more than makes it up. Dalhouse’s colors add a nice dimension to the figures in depth as well. He balances an almost flat style in some places with some sculpting, which was a nice touch.
Valiant continues it’s role of quality, and with it adds more reason to check out their publishing line in the future. As I’m starting to loose a little traction with other companies, I am more than happy to pick up these books. Venditti and Henry tell another solid story here, and while background info on the character is somewhat of a need here, it was still a great story.
4 Lions heads out of 5