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Review: X-O Manowar #7

X-O Manowar #7

A bond destroyed. Power wielded recklessly. A deadly force on the attack. X-O Manowar’s world will be shattered in X-O Manowar #7.

The good news about X-O Manowar #7 is that there’s still a lot of content packed between its covers. No, it’s not an extended issue, but Dennis Hopeless is able to really fill those pages without giving Emilio Laiso too much to bring to life. Visually at least, this has been a very consistent series with the art more often than not being the high point of each issue for me.

Where the series has faltered has often been the quality of the writing, because at times it feels as though Hopeless is cramming a little too much story into the comic. Normally this wouldn’t be a thing I’d be complaining about but this issue there seemed to be a little too much hinting toward the reveal that isn’t exactly going to be a surprise for any who have been reading the series thus far; it’s more a confirmation at this point.

Ultimately there’s a lot of good ideas in this series, and despite some less than ideal execution X-O Manowar #7 is still enjoyable; but as the series progresses I’m seeing fewer flashes of the brilliance that we had in the first issue or two (I am aware of the fact that my dislike for a certain character may be influencing my view of the comic as a whole, because the parts I am enjoying don’t involve Troy at all – the jury is out on that because if that’s the case then Hopeless is writing a much better comic than I’m giving him credit for).

I’m keeping an open mind with the series, and I will be reading this book for a third time to see if I can settle the jury, because even with my reservations there’s a lot of things I’m enjoying about the book. Hopefully next issue I’ll find just a little more to love.

Story: Dennis Hopeless Art: Emilio Laiso
Colors: Ruth Redmond Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Story: 7.4 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology – Kindle – TFAW

Preview: X-O Manowar #7

X-O MANOWAR #7

Written by DENNIS HOPELESS
Art by EMILIO LAISO
Inks by RAFFAELE FORTE
Colors by RUTH REDMOND
Letters by HASSAN OTSMANE-ELHAOU
Cover A by RAHZZAH
Cover B by DEXTER SOY
Pre-order Cover by CHRIS JOHNSON
On sale OCTOBER 20th | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

Part 3 of “Upgrade the World!”

A bond destroyed. Power wielded recklessly. A deadly force on the attack.

X-O Manowar’s world will be shattered.

X-O MANOWAR #7

Preview: X-O Manowar #7

X-O MANOWAR #7

Written by DENNIS HOPELESS
Art by EMILIO LAISO
Inks by RAFFAELE FORTE
Colors by RUTH REDMOND
Letters by HASSAN OTSMANE-ELHAOU
Cover A by RAHZZAH
Cover B by DEXTER SOY
Pre-order Cover by CHRIS JOHNSON
On sale OCTOBER 20th | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

Part 3 of “Upgrade the World!”

A bond destroyed. Power wielded recklessly. A deadly force on the attack.

X-O Manowar’s world will be shattered.

X-O MANOWAR #7

Preview: X-O Manowar #7

X-O MANOWAR #7

Written by DENNIS HOPELESS
Art by EMILIO LAISO
Inks by RAFFAELE FORTE
Colors by RUTH REDMOND
Letters by HASSAN OTSMANE-ELHAOU
Cover A by RAHZZAH
Cover B by DEXTER SOY
Pre-order Cover by CHRIS JOHNSON
On sale OCTOBER 20th | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

Part 3 of “Upgrade the World!”

A bond destroyed. Power wielded recklessly. A deadly force on the attack.

X-O Manowar’s world will be shattered.

X-O MANOWAR #7

Review: X-O Manowar #6

X-O Manowar #6

X-O Manowar has saved the planet from hostile forces countless times before, but the new threat that looms in front of him in X-O Manowar #6 is unlike anything he has faced before. And with his sentient alien armor glitching, X-O’s situation is about to get much worse…

There’s a couple of things in this series that have been fairly consistent for the last couple of issues, and I’ll talk about each of them in turn; the amount of content in the comic, the quality of the art, and the ups and downs of the quality. The last point sounds confusing, so I’ll touch on that first, because how can a comic’s quality be consistent while it’s having ups and downs? Because ultimately the comic is having cyclical moments of quality every other issue; X-O Manowar #6 isn’t as solid as the previous in terms of story quality as the issue seems to tread water around what is a really interesting idea. While the core concept of the ongoing story is of Aric being groomed into a fully fledged superhero by a billionaire tech mogul (who is clearly more than he seems) is really strong, the book loses a bit of the va va voom in the presentation of that idea over the course of the comic.

Ironically it’s the amount of story packed into the comic that almost plays against it, but there’s enough fun moments in the comic to keep you engaged.

When it comes to the third constant, once again I’m going to borrow from the review of the previous book, and say that; “Emilio Laiso‘s art combined with Ruth Redmond‘s colouring is once again a high point in the comic, and they’ve plenty to sink their teeth into here; that Laiso can keep up with Hopeless’ story is impressive as the artist never once seems overwhelmed as the action flows with a smooth grace. The final panel in the book is breathtaking in its simplicity, and yet Laiso and Redmond deliver upon all the emotion you’re feeling and splash it down on the page (no spoilers here, because you need to get the full impact).”

What can I say, I’m environmentally friendly and like to recycle.

Ultimately, despite the hiccup/s in the book, X-O Manowar #6 is still a solid read. It’s not going to be a definitive X-O Manowar story that will be recommended above all others (at least from what I can tell so far), but it’s a story that I’m enjoying nonetheless. I’m still hopeful that the comic will reach new highs, just as I’m hoping that the tech billionaire will soon be a memory – that I’ve got a genuine dislike of the character is a testament to the writing; because when Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum is good, he’s really good.

Story: Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum Art: Emilio Laiso
Colors: Ruth Redmond Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Story: 7.6 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology – Kindle – Zeus Comics – TFAW

Preview: X-O Manowar #6

X-O MANOWAR #6

Written by DENNIS HOPELESS
Art by EMILIO LAISO
Inks by RAFFAELE FORTE
Colors by RUTH REDMOND
Letters by HASSAN OTSMANE-ELHAOU
Cover A by RAHZZAH
Cover B by CHRIS JOHNSON
Pre-order Cover by JEFF DEKAL
On sale SEPTEMBER 22nd | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

Part 2 of “Upgrade the World!”

X-O Manowar has saved the planet from hostile forces countless times before, but the new threat that looms in front of him is unlike anything he has faced before. And with his sentient alien armor glitching, X-O’s situation is about to get much worse…

X-O MANOWAR #6

Review: X-O Manowar #5

X-O Manowar #5

When we last saw X-O Manowar, he was sinking to the bottom of the ocean after a technological nanite monster thing hacked and shut down Shanhara (I’ll be honest, because of the gap in issues, the exact nature of the beast escapes me, but that’s the gist of what it was at the least).

There have been some ups and downs with the series so far, though the last issue of X-O Manowar started edging more toward the quality of the first couple issues; X-O Manowar #5 stays on the trajectory for the most part. The issue sees the resolution of the prior cliffhanger, and then takes things a little slower as we get some background on Troy that fleshes him out a little beyond the Tony Stark clone that he initially came off as.

One of the consistent strengths of X-O Manowar is just how much story that writer Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum has beed able to cram into each issue of the comic. Even with the ups and downs of the series, that’s been a solid constant. There are three main parts to this comic, and it benefits from not having either of those stretch on farther than is necessary as Hallum balances the narrative within the comic.

I’m going to borrow from the review of the previous book, and say that; “Emilio Laiso‘s art combined with Ruth Redmond‘s colouring is once again a high point in the comic, and they’ve plenty to sink their teeth into here; that Laiso can keep up with Hopeless’ story is impressive as the artist never once seems overwhelmed as the action flows with a smooth grace. The final panel in the book is breathtaking in its simplicity, and yet Laiso and Redmond deliver upon all the emotion you’re feeling and splash it down on the page (no spoilers here, because you need to get the full impact).”

The wait for X-O Manowar #5 was longer than I’d have liked, but nonetheless the comic continues to deliver a solid story. It’s not top tier just yet, but the creative team has shown flashes of that level of quality so I’m still hopeful that we’ll see the comic return to the heights the character is known for.

Story: Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum Art: Emilio Laiso
Colors: Ruth Redmond Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Story: 7.9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology – Kindle – Zeus Comics – TFAW

Review: X-O Manowar #5

X-O Manowar #5

The last adventure of X-O Manowar saw him involved in a grudge match with some European General who ended up sneaking his army into Brooklyn in a lame attempt to harm the family that befriended X-O. He easily defeated them and then when he was hanging out with his billionaire friend on his yacht, was attacked by a nanite swarm and left sinking in the ocean.  Honestly, it wasn’t the greatest tale that could be told of Valiant’s flagship character.

X-O Manowar #5 starts with our titular character sinking in the ocean, unable to communicate with Shanhara, the living armor that X-O Manowar wears. The nanite swarm continues to attack and X-O finds a sunken vessel to explode, helping him rise to the surface. Once free of the threat, we get a lot of talk about what is possibly causing the threat, which it now seems to be focused solely at Shanhara. If that wasn’t enough, we now see Shanhara personified in a minecraft-like world where faceless enemies assault her.

There’s good and there’s bad about X-O Manowar #5. First, seeing some sort of reason for the nanite attacks reveal itself is nice at this point in the story. And while the billionaire buddy of X-O comes off as a bit annoying, he’s able to deduct and problem solve in a way that really works within the story. Sadly, the entire issue feels like X-O is just some clueless dolt. Then there’s the end of this book, where Shanhara more-or-less looks like Valiant heroine Livewire, who has worn the armor before, being attacked by Minecraft creepers, further cementing the idea that her mindset is now that of a child, continues to come off as unimaginative for a character that is more advanced than anything on earth and has existed for a thousand years.

The art continues to look great when there’s action. The opening part of the story really makes what Emilio Laiso and Raffaele Forte and Ruth Redmond do on art look superb. I think he really knocks the action sequences out of the part. WIth an issue like this, there’s enough of that. I really thought the colors popped on the opening sequence. Throughout the issue, I could see that Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s letters look thorough. I thought all the covers for this issue look fantastic and as a Valiant collector, I can’t wait to get copies of this issue for my collection.

While I’m glad that the publishing pause with X-O Manowar is done, I’m still left feeling a bit unimpressed with the title. The visuals are there but the story isn’t quite working for me. With recent Valiant titles like Shadowman and Ninjak being as good as they are, X-O Manowar comes off as the weak sibling in the family.

Story: Dennis Hopeless Art: Emilio Laiso
Ink: Raffaele Forte Color: Ruth Redmond Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Story: 5.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 6.0

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Discover the Future of Valiant in Valiant Uprising, Our Free Comic Book Day 2021

Free Comic Book Day 2021 is the perfect time to step into the Valiant universe.

Featuring a cover by The Harbinger artist Robbi Rodriguez, the Valiant Uprising FCBD Special will be available only in comic book shops this August. The must-read issue is packed with content, including…

  • A brand new X-O Manowar story from Harvey Award-winning writer Dennis Hopeless and breakout star Emilio Laiso. It’s the perfect jumping-on point as Valiant’s flagship hero prepares to “Upgrade the World” this Summer!
  • A special advance preview of The Harbinger #1, an all-new series from co-writers Jackson Lanzing and Colin Kelly with superstar artist Robbi Rodriguez that promises to take Valiant’s psiot rebel in a vivid new direction!
  • Plus, find out how the world’s greatest spy responds to being unmasked, hunted, and trapped in a first look at Ninjak #1, the pulse-pounding thrill ride from Ringo Award-winning writer Jeff Parker and legendary artist Javier Pulido.
  • Finally, get a sneak peek from writer Cullen Bunn and artist Jon Davis-Hunt of what’s to come in the terrifying pages of Shadowman!

Free Comic Book Day 2021 takes place on August 14 at your local comic shop.

Valiant Uprising

Dennis Hopeless and Heather Antos Talk Upgrades, International Threats, and Milk and Pie in Valiant’s X-O Manowar

X-O Manowar #4 cover by Christian Ward
X-O Manowar #4 cover by Christian Ward

Does Manowar make the armor? A new threat towers over X-O. Will he have the strength to bring the titan down? Out this week X-O Manowar #4 saw Aric taking on multiple threats as he attempts to figure out what it exactly means to be a superhero. All of this while the media and world is watching him. With threats both domestic and abroad what does this mean for Aric, X-O Manowar going forward? And what’s up with the armor upgrade?

We discuss this and more with X-O Manowar writer Dennis Hopeless and editor Heather Antos. Plus check out the fantastic art from Emilio Laiso!

Warning, some minor spoilers below!

GP: Hey folks! How’re you both doing on this sunny (for me, anyway) day?

Heather Antos: Well, it’s been below freezing the past several days here so…cold? I’m cold.

Dennis Hopeless: Yeah, it snowed here last night so my day started with shoveling. But at the moment I’m working across the room from the couch fort my kids just built… So I’m very amused.

GP: Last issue we saw Shanhara get an upgrade – can you walk us through how that came to happen from a creative perspective?

HA: If I recall correctly, this was the culmination of a bunch of different conversations between Dennis and I in regards to where we wanted to see Aric and Shanhara’s story go. But I can’t really get into the details just yet…the upgrade of Shanhara is only just the tip of the story iceberg to come…

DH: Yes indeed. One of our major goals for this series was to explore and expand the bond between Aric and Shanhara. The partnership, the friendship and crucial trust between them is our cornerstone. Everything happening right now, including the suit upgrade, is a step down that road.

X-O Manowar #4

GP: How much of a hand did you have in designing the new look for Shanhara? What was that process like for the team?

DH: >CRACKS KNUCKLES< I typed a vague panel description and got all the way out of Emilio’s way.

HA: I was fairly hands off, myself. Emilio is a phenomenal artist so I trusted his instincts so long as the design fit the call of the story Dennis has been building. It needed to look sleek and modern — almost how Troy would design the suit if he could — while still honoring the classic suit that we all know and love. I think Emilio nailed it. 

GP: When designing a new look, how much of that is driven by the narrative and how much of it drives the narrative?

HA: It all depends on what story you’re telling, but I find it can be a bit of both, you know? The story that comes before is going to inspire the build up of the new look the artist comes up with….but then the new design can very often inspire new stories that will come after. It’s cyclical and such a cool part of comics!

DH: Every bit of it is collaborative, in that it’s a conversation. I try to explain what I see in my head and why we’re doing the things we’re doing, but artists like Emilio almost always bring better ideas and designs than I could dream up to the table. Oftentimes, I’ll get new (better) ideas for future story beats based on the art choices. Greater than the sum of our parts.

GP: Can you tell us whether the new look is a permanent change?

HA: Nice try, but you’re getting no spoilers out of me! 

DH: Nothing is permanent. Ever.

X-O Manowar #4

GP: You’ve been taking Aric toward a more traditional style of superhero, but in this issue we actually see him apologise for not doing enough; how will that level of expectation play into the series as it progresses?

DH: I mean, yeah, it’s an impossible job… Even for Aric. But also, Aric is starting to learn how to properly communicate with the public. Troy is teaching him that it’s easier to help people who already trust and respect you… And in the age of mass media, you have to gain that trust in a few different ways at once. “I’m sorry I didn’t do better,” carries a lot of weight.

HA: I can’t even begin to imagine what the pressures of being a superhero are — and here we’re really exploring just the tip of the burden Aric has put on himself.   

GP: Heather, you edit this series as well as other Valiant ones, how much coordination is there between the various series? Are you all thinking through the impact of these changes on the rest of the Valiant universe

HA: Always. It’s super important for editorial to always be aware of what is going on in the other parts of the universe at all times and how that will impact not only their own books, but also the other editor’s books as well. There’s a ton of behind-the-scenes communication between offices about how to best integrate together. 

DH: And it’s important to me to position X-O as a much stronger and more important figure in the Valiant Universe than say… Shadowman. Because Cullen Bunn is a monster and must be defeated.

GP: We’ve seen Aric take on international threats over the course of the series; will you also have him confront domestic terror threats?

HA: I mean, in a way that’s sort of what we’ve seen with Yakiov already, isn’t it? X-O Manowar may be this great superhero that can protect us all from a galactic level, but at heart he’s a man of the people — and those he considers his family will always come first. 

DH: If it were up to Aric, he’d help/save everyone everywhere all the time. Shanhara spends a lot of time tamping down those expectations. But absolutely, yes, we have BIG BAD local threats coming up soon.

X-O Manowar #4

GP: Dennis, the last panel is quietly terrifying; how much direction did you give Emilio Laiso on that?

DENNIS: I just looked at the script and I typed 11 words for that panel. Emilio is very very good.

GP: I have to ask – what made you write Vlad Yakiov as having milk and pie as he’s waiting for his plan to unfold?

DH: A friend of mine once threatened to create a blog called DENNIS HOPELESS IS HUNGRY because I write a lot of eating scenes into my books. It’s not something I started doing on purpose, but I do think little mundane bits of humanity can add a lot of nuance to dialogue-heavy scenes. In this case, Yakiov is terrorizing this family after destroying their neighborhood… And now he’s eating their food. It’s equal parts creepy and disrespectful and shows us just how confident he is that he’s going to win.

HA: This was all Dennis! But I loved it — it’s almost comical, in a way, but also scary, too. This big scary monster of a man walking into your home and just casually starting to eat your food as he threatens your life and the lives of your loved ones? Terrifying. This big scary monster of a man doing a spittake once he realizes he’s been so easily duped? Hilarious!

GP: Thanks for answering our questions and can’t wait to see what’s next!


Purchase X-O Manowar #4: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

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