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Review: X-O Manowar #10

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“One does not rise to power without making enemies along the way…and for X-O Manowar, the armored emperor of the planet Gorin, those enemies’ grievances have now come due. To end his reign, Aric of Dacia’s adversaries have paid a blood-fueled bounty to a ragtag assemblage of the cosmos’s most feared undesirables and cutthroat killers – alien beings whose viciousness is matched only by their greed. And their hunt starts…now.”

Now that Aric of Dacia Earth Urth has become the de facto emperor of an entire planet after a commanding a successful revolution on the planet Gorin, he’s finding that the difficulties of leading three nations in peace after the wars present a set of problems all on their own now that the entire way of life on the planet has been upended. So much so, in fact, that the conclusion of the previous issue saw one of Aric’s inner circle reveal to the audience that a contract had been put upon the head of the ruler.

But who would dare take money to kill the man wearing the most powerful weapon in the galaxy? The answer to that question is found within X-O Manowar #10‘s pages as we’re given an introduction to  the bounty hunters who are going (to try) to kill X-O Manowar.

Matt Kindt spends the issue introducing us to the bounty hunters we’ll be seeing a lot more of, and wastes no time in letting the reader know just how tough and ruthless these people are; in fact, that’s actually the comic in a nutshell. Because this issue is all about establishing these new characters before they come into contact with X-O Manowar you’d be forgiven for thinking that not much actually happens beyond a lot of expositionary dialogue and long winded talky sections. But if you did think that, you’d be wrong. Kindt is able to tell an interesting story as he drip feeds us bits and pieces of their backstory and character traits whilst using the deep space setting to explore some pretty interesting ideas (the prison without walls for example), no matter how throwaway they may seem.

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The deep space setting allows Renato Guedes to flex his creative muscles when bringing Kindt’s script to a darkly vivid life. There was a minor nitpick with the art; the review copy has a decent sized watermark across the middle of every page (and understandably so) which did sometimes obscure aspects of the visual delight that is X-O Manowar #10, but as your copy doesn’t have the watermark then you won’t have the same problem as I did. Normally I wouldn’t mention this, but the art has a general darkness to it that’s a little incompatible with the watermark, I’m largely basing the score off the preview pages as Guedes has literally nothing to do with said marking.

Indeed, his artwork is, frankly, stunning when you really stop to look at it. His command of colour and visual pacing elevate an already solid script into a comic that’s a must read; something that’s even more impressive when you consider that X-O Manowar #10 could easily be a forgettable issue when you look at it on paper. After all, 22 pages dedicated to learning  bit more about some potentially throwaway characters is something that you could easily leave on the shelf.

But when it’s this good, that’d be a terrible shame.

Story: Matt Kindt Artist: Renato Guedes
Story: 8.6 Art: 9 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided a FREE copy for review, which is awesome, however I’ll still purchase my own copy anyway.