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Review: X-O Manowar #22

X-O Manowar #22

The thrilling finale to “AGENT!”

With the help of Atom-13, X-O Manowar has succeeded in beating back the forces of the Unknown… But the militant leader of New Eden, now known as the Cartographer, may have yet another surprise up his sleeve.

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing a story wrap up in a way that does justice to all the characters involved and loose ends dangling, and wrapping up very well at that. There is, suitaby, a couple of threads left to be pulled in the future, but only threads that will leave you hungering for the moment they’re finally pulled.

Matt Kindt continues to show why he’s writing Valiant’s highest profile character (until the Bloodshot movie comes out next year, at least) as he keeps X-O Manowar among the very best comics that the market has to offer. Not in the least because the undertones of the series deal with questions around the nature of individual freedoms verses one’s service to their country (or planet) and their loyalty to family and friends. Kindt weaves these questions within a great conclusion, but takes care not to answer them specifically, leaving the reader to make their own decision as to where they come down in the grand scheme of things.

I hold both Juan Jose Ryp and Andrew Dalhouse in high esteem based on their previous work, and this issue gives a brilliant example of why. Despite the darker tones of the story as individual freedoms clash with the various multi-dimensional militaries, the comic is wonderfully bright and easy to follow  through the various clashes – the juxtaposition often seeming at odds with each other in a dual assault on the senses.

When I fist picked up this series, I didn’t honestly expect to love it as much as I currently do; Kindt has created a marvelous overarching story where each issue has built upon the last, and yet he has also been able to make each new arc easily approachable for new readers. It’s a remarkable feat, but then at this point I wouldn’t expect anything else from one of comics brightest lights.

Story: Matt Kindt Art: Juan Jose Ryp 
Colours: Andrew Dalhouse Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 9.2 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.1 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: X-O Manowar #21

XO2017_021_COVER-C_TOWE

The Brothers of the Bomb explode onto the scene!

The Brothers of the Bomb have invaded our world, and only the armored Visigoth vanguard known as X-O Manowar can stand between them and total devastation! But they aren’t alone…other fatal forces from the Unknown are fast approaching, too…

X-O Manowar is a series that has always been at its best when Aric of Dacia finds himself torn between two rival factions and is forced to make a choice between the two – usually this results in him choosing a side or forcing a standstill in the conflict. But it’s always the how and the why that makes these stories so engaging. Matt Kindt has already woven an epic story around these themes as Aric went from soldier to general to emperor earlier in the series, by returning to the theme we see another facet of the character as he acts more as an instrument, as a weapon, for others to wield. What pulls me in with this angle is that after the recent events in the series, Aric is aware of the role he is playing, and simply doesn’t care. This is a man who is searching for a purpose, and when he finds it he throws himself at the new purpose with a near reckless abandon – bringing to mind the youthful exuberance we’ve seen in flashback sequences.

For as far as Aric has come, as wise as he and the armour can be, sometimes one gets the sense he longs for the simpler life that was stolen from him.

But putting the philosophizing aside, and getting back to the comic (this is, after all, a review of X-O Manowar #21 and not a character analysis of Aric of Dacia), the story of X-O Manowar #21 is brought to life by artist Juan Jose Ryp and colorist Andrew Dalhouse. Ryp and Dalhouse are as visually exciting as you would expect from two artists with as much talent as they have. Page layouts, camera angles and even the way the boarders and gutters are used lend a dynamically exciting frame to the action within the story. Ryp’s trademark hyper-detailed style is on top form here, and Dalhouse flourishes each page with an expert use of colour that is often brightly at odds with the tense scenes occurring on the page. It’s a dichotomy that works.

At the end of the day, if you have been reading this series, then you’re going to love what you’ve seen so far. If you haven’t, then there’s only two or three issues you’d need to pick up in order to catch up fully with this comic (though you could probably read this as a starting point and be fine) – and I genuinely recommend that you check this out. X-O Manowar is a superbly entertaining series that questions the nature of freewill, purpose and even heroism. It shouldn’t be left on the comic shop racks.

Story: Matt Kindt Art: Juan Jose Ryp
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.6 Art: 9.2 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Quantum And Woody #12

QW2017_012_COVER-B-(EXTREME-ULTRA-FOIL)_SHAWThe major leagues are calling!

Now that Eric and Woody Henderson know they have what it takes to save the day, they finally have a shot at going pro – and they’re in luck, because UNITY might just be making a comeback! But the brothers aren’t ready for primetime just yet…they still have to audition for their spots, under the watchful eyes of G.A.T.E. and X-O Manowar!

Look, I won’t try to deny I am genuinely saddened that this is the final issue of Eliot Rahal‘s run on Quantum And Woody, let alone that it’s also the final issue of the current series for the two Henderson brothers. But I’m at least happy to see the series go out on a high note. A very high note. High enough to shatter the glass in your hand, if you want to take the analogy a little farther.

Francis Portella‘s art is coloured by Andrew Dalhouse, and captures Rahal’s swan song story with ease. With the story focusing on the brothers’ heavily encouraged audition for Unity, Valiant’s premier superhuman team, the story focuses on X-O Manowar putting Quantum and Woody through their paces in an amazingly understated work of art. Portella’s work here is super clean and easy to read, his judicious use of blank space an effective way of highlighting the emotional turmoil and internal conflict of certain characters within the comic. The grid work and panel layout are as simplistic and exciting as you would hope – often in the same dynamically constructed page. There are splash pages, traditional grids and enough eye catching imagery to give the reader a spectacular experience.

Yes, it’s the final issue, but I’m still trying to be vague so as to avoid spoilers for those wanting to go into the comic blind.

Somehow, with the last issue of the series, Eliot Rahal has demonstrated his amazing knack for getting into a character’s head and using that understanding to deliver some of the best comics you’ll read. He’s done it for Valiant before with the Archer and Armstrong Divinity III tie in, and once again with the finale of Quantum And Woody. Rahal questions what it is to be a hero, and the various shapes of heroism present in a costumed adventurers daily life – do you need to be constantly saving the world to earn your hero badge, or do you need to save somebody’s world? That Rahal is able to question the nature of superheroism whilst giving us a compelling single issue story is perhaps the highlight of the entire twelve issue run. It also has the benefit of being a brilliant introduction to the characters within the comic, which leaves me in a fairly unique position. It doesn’t matter that this is the final issue in the series, because it is such a fine example of comic book creativity it demands to be read by any and all with an interest in the medium.

When it comes to Quantum and Woody Valiant certainly saved the best for the last, and it’s a shame to see the series end on such a brilliant story. All I wanted after finishing this issue was to count down the days to the next issue – but that, ultimately isn’t going to happen. Like I said, it’s a shame.

Story: Eliot Rahal Art: Francis Portella
Colours: Andrew Dalhouse Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 9.1 Art: 8.8 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Quantum and Woody! (2017) #12

QUANTUM AND WOODY! (2017) #12

Written by ELIOT RAHAL
Art by FRANCIS PORTELA
Colors by ANDREW DALHOUSE
Letters by DAVE SHARPE
Cover A by AJ JOTHIKUMAR
Cover B (Extreme Ultra-Foil) by GEOFF SHAW
Variant Cover by JIM MAHFOOD
Pre-Order Edition by MATT HORAK

The major leagues are calling!

Now that Eric and Woody Henderson know they have what it takes to save the day, they finally have a shot at going pro – and they’re in luck, because UNITY might just be making a comeback! But the brothers aren’t ready for primetime just yet…they still have to audition for their spots, under the watchful eyes of G.A.T.E. and X-O Manowar!

Start stretching now, ‘cuz you don’t want to pull a muscle when rising star writer Eliot Rahal (The Paybacks) and fan-favorite artist Francis Portela (FAITH) begin tryouts for the biggest and best superhero team around in this sensational one-shot finale!

$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale NOVEMBER 21nd

Preview: Faith Deluxe Edition Book 1 HC

FAITH DELUXE EDITION BOOK 1 HC

Written by JODY HOUSER and JOSHUA DYSART
Art by FRANCIS PORTELA, PERE PÉREZ, MARGUERITE SAUVAGE, ROBERT GILL,
and ANDREW DALHOUSE
Cover by MARGUERITE SAUVAGE

Faith begins!

Orphaned at a young age, Faith Herbert – a psionically gifted “psiot” discovered by the Harbinger Foundation – has always aspired to greatness. But now this once-ordinary teenager is taking control of her destiny and becoming the hard-hitting hero she’s always known she can be – complete with a mild-mannered secret identity, unsuspecting colleagues, and a day job as a reporter that routinely throws her into harm’s way! She’ll tackle every obstacle in her path with confidence – robots, aliens, monsters…and even her very first super-villain arch-nemesis bent on snuffing her out once and for all!

Collecting FAITH (LIMITED SERIES) #1-4, FAITH (ONGOING SERIES) #1-8, HARBINGER: FAITH #0 from Joshua Dysart (HARBINGER) and artist Robert Gill (BOOK OF DEATH), and A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #5 from writer Rafer Roberts (HARBINGER RENEGADE) and artist Mike Norton (QUANTUM AND WOODY). Plus, more than 20 pages of rarely seen art and extras!

$49.99 | 368 pgs. | T+ | On Sale OCTOBER 31st
HARDCOVER | ISBN: 978-1-68215-285-0

Review: X-O Manowar #20

xo2017_020_COVER-A_ROCAFORTIn a realm far more fantastical than our own, a Sky Goddess is missing… And in pursuit of their vanished cosmic princess and her nefarious captors, a squadron of soldiers from the Unknown have invaded our planet! As tensions run high and trust becomes scarce, can X-O Manowar and G.A.T.E. leader Colonel Capshaw band together to keep our world from becoming ensnared in a battle larger than life?  

X-O Manowar #20 is a comic about a man who possesses more firepower than most armies, a man who is a former king and emperor, and who is willingly allowing a friend to use him as a weapon. Because he’s lost, his world has changed around him during his time in space (X-O Manowar #1-13) and he seems to be looking for a new direction. But despite his fearsome prowess in battle, Aric of Dacia seems to have learnt that fighting isn’t always the answer to every question.

It’s in those moments where we see Colonel Capshaw really shine; she is effectively the only regular human in the room, with nothing but her smarts, her gun and her training, but she steals every scene. There are times in this comic where Capshaw feels like the most dangerous character in the room, despite the awe inspiring power of X-O Manowar and Atom 13. Matt Kindt‘s script retains the high quality that has become a standard of the series over the past 19 issues, and while Juan Jose Rip hasn’t been on the series as long, his art delivers a visual punch as he brings alien spacecraft and terrain to life. His choreography is also hugely enjoyable, though the artist’s hyper detailed style may not be for everybody, your humble reviewer was a big fan.

In a comic the looks back to the Divinity and Eternity stories, the reader doesn’t need to have read those tales – obviously it helps you get a little more from the comic if you have, but if you haven’t then don’t worry about it (though personally I’d highly recommend looking them up). As you may have guessed by this shorter review, X-O Manowar #20is another solid entry in Valiant’s flagship title; I can’t recommend this series to you enough.

Story: Matt Kindt Artist: Juan Jose Rip
Colourist: Andrew Dalhouse Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Story: 9.2 Art: 8.8 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: X-O Manowar (2017) #20

X-O MANOWAR (2017) #20

Written by MATT KINDT
Art by JUAN JOSÉ RYP
Colors by ANDREW DALHOUSE
Letters by DAVE SHARPE
Cover A by KENNETH ROCAFORT
Cover B by ALAN QUAH
Cover C by ZU ORZU
Interlocking Variant by RENATO GUEDES
Pre-Order Edition by WHILCE PORTACIO
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | VALIANT PREMIUM | T+ | On Sale OCTOBER 24th

The Agents of G.A.T.E. vs. the Brothers of the Bomb!

In a realm far more fantastical than our own, a Sky Goddess is missing… And in pursuit of their vanished cosmic princess and her nefarious captors, a squadron of soldiers from the Unknown have invaded our planet! As tensions run high and trust becomes scarce, can X-O Manowar and G.A.T.E. leader Colonel Capshaw band together to keep our world from becoming ensnared in a battle larger than life?

Review: Quantum & Woody #11

QW2017_011_COVER-B-(EXTREME-ULTRA-FOIL)_SHAWQuantum and Woody are having a pretty terrible day so far – their atoms were dissolved in the middle of a nationwide disaster; they faced down their personal demons in “The Otherverse;” and now they’re responsible for bringing a malicious entity back with them! These guys can’t even finish a jigsaw puzzle without losing a whole bunch of pieces – how are they gonna put all of reality back together?

The basic set up for this issue is that Quantum and Woody have to save the world because the real heroes are unavailable. Eliot Rahal doesn’t hide the fact that neither Henderson brother is particularly sought after in the hero circles. His conveyance of this message is both overt and subtle. The obvious is done through the dialogue surrounding the brothers, from Colonel Jamie Capshaw and other G.A.T.E. officers, where as the subtle is in the wonderfully lettered interludes curtesy of Dave Sharpe and through Joe Eisma‘s art. The brothers never really feel like they’re going to be enough to tackle the threat, and yet we still root for them. It’s within this underdog tone that Rahal has created one of the most compelling runs in a comic series I’ve read in a long time.

Quantum & Woody #11 is one of those comics that you can, sort of, just pick up and enjoy with minimal confusion (the recap page that Valiant open the story with will more than help you here), but if you’ve been reading the book since Rahal took over then it’s an issue that rewards you with some brilliant moments in comics. It may sound like hyperbole, but this issue had me grinning from ear to ear as the brothers found a determination that I’ve seldom seen from both of them (granted my Quantum and Woody knowledge isn’t the best). There were also other emotions felt, but the less said about that the better (because spoilers, not because I want to hide that I have emotions).

What we’re given with this comic is an issue that pokes fun at itself and the title characters whilst simultaneously providing an excellent example of the type of super hero comics that will hit you right in the warm spot. That spot that triggers a really satisfied and complete feeling from you when you read or listen or watch something that moves you. Because this comic did that for me.

Ultimately with only one issue left in the series (and that issue being a one-shot story), Rahal is on pace to end his tenure with the Henderson’s on a high note. A very high note.

Story: Eliot Rahal Artist: Joe Eisma
Colours: Andrew Dalhouse Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 9.2 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.1 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Preview: Quantum and Woody! (2017) #11

QUANTUM AND WOODY! (2017) #11

Written by ELIOT RAHAL
Art by JOE EISMA
Colors by ANDREW DALHOUSE
Letters by DAVE SHARPE
Cover A by KYLE SMART
Cover B (Extreme Ultra-Foil) by GEOFF SHAW
Interlocking Variant by JOE EISMA
Pre-Order Edition by RYAN LEE
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale OCTOBER 17th

Situation Normal All Klanged Up!

Quantum and Woody are having a pretty terrible day so far – their atoms were dissolved in the middle of a nationwide disaster; they faced down their personal demons in “The Otherverse;” and now they’re responsible for bringing a malicious entity back with them! These guys can’t even finish a jigsaw puzzle without losing a whole bunch of pieces – how are they gonna put all of reality back together?

Rising star Eliot Rahal (The Paybacks) and Eisner-nominated artist Joe Eisma (Morning Glories) give the world’s worst superhero team some much-needed closure as SEPARATION ANXIETY draws the two brothers closer than ever before!

Review: X-O Manowar #19

XO2017_019_COVER-A_ROCAFORTBeyond time, space, and reality, there lies the Unknown…and now it’s coming here! When soldiers from a mysterious foreign realm arrive on Earth, it’s up to the armored Visigoth known as X-O Manowar – newly returned to the planet and now the leader of his own elite G.A.T.E. unit – to deal with the intrusion. But are these otherworldly emissaries truly the threat they appear to be, or does a larger danger loom over the Valiant Universe still?

I’ve been fortunate to read a lot of X-O Manowar over the last year, and not once have I felt that I’ve gotten to know Colonel Jamie Capshaw as well as I have from this issue. By using her essentially as the point of view character for the issue, Matt Kindt further explores the impact and influence of X-O Manowar on the world around him.

In terms of establishing a new arc, Kindtkicks things off with a steadily paced issue that is as good a jumping on point for new readers as any other that you’ll find. Through Capshaw’s narration we get a good grasp on who Aric is (and how she sees him) which is more than enough to enjoy the comic in your hands. For those of you who have been reading X-O Manowar across all 75 issues since the 2012 relaunch then you’ll notice how the character has grown – his experiences are literally scarred into his body, but there’s also a weight to his presence and movements that backs up all he’s gone through. Juan Jose Ryp‘s hyper detailed style suits this story (and specifically a wide-eyed officer), and X-O himself.

Kindt sets a lot up in this issue, none of which I’ll reveal here in detail as it’ll be much more fun for you to see why Capshaw is more than just a suit. For my money (and I will be buying this issue) this arc is shaping up to be one of the most exciting things we’ve seen Kindt do with the series this year.

Story: Matt Kindt Art: Juan Jose Ryp
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse Letters: Dave Sharpe
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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