Tuesday, June 25, 2013

1st Impression: X-O MANOWAR # 14 Review

Written by Robert Venditti
Art by Cary Nord & Moose Baumann
Valiant Comics


                The finale to Planet Death has arrived as Aric has amassed an army from the slaves of the Vine while the Vine themselves are split down the middle between those who believe in the religion of Shanhara and those who do not.

                It is clear that the Vine who do not believe in the prophecies of Shanhara are ready to do whatever it takes to kill Aric and the Manowar armor … even destroy one of their own cities in order to get him. A verbal confrontation between Vine gets violent as Aric makes his way to the Council to end this battle once and for all.


                Nord and Baumann deliver big time this issue. Dynamic panels, like a group of panels that revolve around the helmeted Aric looked amazing. The assortment of alien slaves lead by Aric looked formable.  The battles looked grand as we got machines, soldiers and all kinds of aliens making trouble.

                The backgrounds were also fairly diverse. Everything from cities, to fields, to mountains & more were wonderfully rendered. Nord really shines with some interesting panel work, including Aric floating in the air and lighting up … almost in a religious sense with him being the light for the slaves and the Vine who believe in Shanhara. The interesting contracts on the Vine was also well appreciated … making them distinct while Baumann’s colors really brightened up the art. The colors made the art in the book breath while not being overpowering.

                Overall, Nord does a great job this issue with a solid art work.


                Planet Death comes to its climatic conclusion and I have to say that I am pleased yet feeling a bit unsatisfied. Why? While we do get war during the final issue with Aric leading the charge against the Vine, we also get the Priest of Shanhara and other followers of his facing off in a religious/beliefs debate over the armor and what it means.  The debate was extremely well done; full of passionate debate, tension and some really powerful, emotional moments. The problem isn’t the debate … no … that was great … it was the fact that the debate felt it had more weigh this issue than the final battle.

                While I understand the overall set up to the issue and all the players and even why it happened where it happened, there seems to be a problem with balance this issue. The debate felt like it too up more time this issue than the action did. And while I agree that it needed that much time, I felt that the issue was missing some more battle just to give the issue the right girth. The pacing felt a little off.

                Otherwise, Venditti crafted a strong conclusion with emotional weight and character development amidst the war. The theological debate was excellent. Yet, for some reason, it felt like it the amount of it interrupted the flow of the issue. The Battles were the afterthought … which I understand is the meaning but at the same time, the lack of balance made the book felt as if the battles were kind of pointless at one more. Yet, many of the characters evolved and Aric turned his out right racism and hate and stopped going for just the Vine as a race entirely and looked at beings for who they are.  Some really good writing on Venditti’s part.


                The art was superb. The writing was top notch yet the battles in this issue felt next to useless over the power and weight of the Theological debate and the meaning behind Aric having the armor. Yet, the story was still a somewhat fulfilling conclusion to the Planet Death storyline and one phase of Aric’s life being done. 


                Balance issues aside, this was a good issue. I give X-O Manowar # 14 an 8 out of 10. Get it when it comes out tomorrow.

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