Review: X-O Manowar #4

XO2017_004_COVER-B_JOHNSON“In the fires of victory, a soldier becomes…a general. With the hostile Cadmium army crushed beneath his force’s boots, Aric of Dacia now commands an entire fleet into the final battle for the soul of an empire. But as a new dawn rises across this unrelenting alien world, what vicious new menace will come forth to greet it?”

The first thing I noticed about this comic is also the biggest disappointment for me: the art suffers in the review copy because of the (utterly justifiable) watermark. Bear that in mind as I proceed to pick my jaw up, because watermark or not, this is simply one of the most visually stunning comics I have read in a long time. Doug Braithwaite delivers a supremely detailed look at the lead character, and the un-inked artwork positively shines under Diego Rodriguez colouring. Seriously, there are two page spreads that you can spend quite some time drinking in, and is well worth the price of admission in and of itself.

I seldom mention the lettering in a comic, which is something I should correct as good lettering can elevate a series – just as Dave Sharpe does here. A great letter’s work often goes overlooked, and all too often Sharpe is overlooked. Honestly had I not been spending so long staring at the artwork, I wouldn’t have noticed how great the lettering is in this issue, and series, actually is; Sharpe expertly guides your eyes around the page, emphasizing the beautiful artwork as you read the words written on the page.

There is an overwhelming sense of just how tired Aric of Dacia/Urth is in this issue, not only in general after participating in this war, but because he’s just done with the fighting. He knows he’s good at it, and won’t shy from a fight when he needs to, but you just know he’s done when you can see the exhaustion written across his face and in the set of his shoulders. It makes me feel tired just watching him – I want nothing more than for the man to be able to rest… but I’m really glad he can’t just yet because the Matt Kindt scripted series has been awesome so far, and this issue is no exception.

As good as the art, layouts and lettering is in this series, even if Matt Kindt was writing an average-at-best story then you’d be looking at a comic with a complete lack of substance, but one still worth looking at. Thankfully, Kindt is delving into the psyche of a tired soldier who doesn’t want to fight anymore a he’s forced into battle once again. It’s a familiar trope in fiction, especially Westerns, and you may think you know all there is to know about this style of story, but Kindt drives this story on masterfully allowing the artists to carry an equal weight in the story telling where he can.

I make no secret of my love for Valiant, and this issue is an exemplary example as to why the publisher has a special place in my pull list.

This week sees both the first three issue arc collected in TPB form on sale for $9.99, which is a steal, as well as this issue. If you want to go all in for this series, then this is the week to do so.

Story: Matt Kindt Art: Doug Braithwaite
Colors: Diego Rodriguez Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review