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Review: X-O Manowar #2

X-O Manowar #2

In X-O Manowar #2, Aric,  better known as X-O Manowar, battles a robot who he finds out is linked to rich bad guy Troy Whitaker. After confronting Whitaker, he lets him off the hook, only to have Whitaker show the upper hand in a most villainous way.

Writer Dennis Hallum’s take on X-O is interesting, for sure. He’s taken the character out of his comfort zones and left him as another person in the life of the Morris family, a mom and son who need a Visigoth warrior in their lives. Worse, after some of the actions caused by Whitaker, he’s painted as an enemy, complete with the law coming after him. There’s nothing wrong with that and a character like Aric needs a bit more humanity thrust upon him. For me, it stumbles, such as the cops who end up coming off like a couple of slouches who are clearly out of their league to do anything.

I like Emilio Laiso’s art on X-O Manowar #2. He shows an adequate amount of detail in his work. Honestly, it’s what a superhero book should look like. For the most part, I like the colors and thought Ruth Redmond pairs really well with Laiso’s art. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering is solid, for the most part. Also, I like all the covers on this issue.

The relationship between Aric and Shanhara has evolved through the different series. When X-O came back in 2012, the armor did not speak to Aric and when the series was rebooted a few years ago under writer Matt Kindt, the armor learned to communicate. With this latest series, Shanhara has taken on the personality of a bratty teen who quips back at Aric. It feels completely wrong. Aric’s dialogue isn’t much better between them.

There’s something that feels off on the onomatopoeia, or sound effects, where throughout this issue, they look incomplete. They don’t look fully colored or maybe they are just a wonky font but it looks off.

After reading this issue, I feel like we’re at a low point for the character. The art is fine but that’s never been an issue with X-O Manowar. The story is a bit uninspiring to keep with and there are elements that don’t feel complete. I really hope it’s a case of a mediocre issue and not something more indicative of the entirety of this run of X-O Manowar. As it stands, I’m left wanting more from X-O Manowar #2 and it can’t give it to me.

Story: Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum Art: Emilio Laiso
Colors: Ruth Redmond Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Story: 5.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 6.0

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Review: X-O Manowar #2

X-O MANOWAR #2

Harvey Award-winning writer Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum and breakout star Emilio Laiso unleash Valiant’s most powerful protector! Torn from the past and bonded with a living alien armor, will X-O Manowar become the hero the world needs now? As a futuristic force arises to destroy the planet, only this ancient warrior king has the courage to stand against impossible odds!

This is an updated version of a review for X-O Manowar #2. The original review copy was largely black and white as the colouring hadn’t been finalized. As such, the text is largely unchanged aside from the specifically noted UPDATE section below.

I recall reading this comic the first time around about three months back; it was a super early version designed to give folks an early preview at what’s coming up for the series. I enjoyed the book when I first read it, but after everything that’s happened in the world since first reading the book, I realized that there was more to X-O Manowar #2 than I first noticed – or maybe I’m looking at the comic with a different perspective. A lot has happened in the last three months, so it’s not surprising that a piece of art resonates with me in a different way.

Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum continues his polarizing depiction of Aric as he lives within a larger city with a single mother and her teenage son. Seeing the former king and emperor in this role hasn’t been popular with some readers, but personally I’m really enjoying seeing Aric trying to find a new way to fit into the modern world now that he’s lost everything but Shanhara. We’re seeing Aric adjust to being a modern man (sort of) in a totally unfamiliar world, and Hallum is using the fish out of water to let some humor into the comic. Not at Aric’s expense, but rather more along the lines of how the jokes are made in the first Thor movie.

The story in this issue is about how X-O Manowar, for all his power and access to knowledge from across human history, is still relatively unaware how to present himself in today’s world as the media falls out of love with him and he struggles to understand the complexity of certain situations. It’s an interesting angle to take with the character, and one I hope Hallum continues to explore as the series progresses.

I’m still all in for this comic, and I can’t wait to see how it improves when the finished product arrives. Although the book doesn’t have any color in it, Emilio Laiso‘s art still brings a wonderful quality to the proceedings. If the art is as good as the last issue, then I can’t wait to reread and update this again.

UPDATE: Well shit, what a difference a finished product makes. X-O Manowar #2 has the unenviable task of catching the attention of people after a long gap between issues who may or may not have read the first issue (And who may not really recall what happened in that issue). I’m honestly impressed that Valiant didn’t slap a big fat number one on the cover to draw attention to the young series.

Now there’s no doubt I enjoyed the story the last time through, and still do, but there’s something about Ruth Redmond‘s vibrant colouring work that makes the entire story pop. I love black and white comics, but there’s a difference between comics with art that should be black and white, and art that is yet to be coloured – and the swooping skies as Aric chases a robot across the water are understated and simplistic in design, but that simplicity conveys a sense of speed that’s underscored by the banter between Aric and Shanhara.

Redmond’s colours that elevate Laiso’s art into a level of fun that I didn’t realize I needed after a rough couple of days technology wise for myself. Ultimately, that’s why I love comics – their ability to take you away from reality (if only briefly). I enjoyed this book a lot when I first read this comic months ago, but the finished product is just so much better than I had expected it to be.

Story: Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum Art: Emilio Laiso
Colors: Ruth Redmond Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Story: 9.2 Art: 9 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology

Writer Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum Answers Our Spoiler Filled Questions as X-O Manowar Invades

X-O Manowar #2

We recently got a chance to sit down with the writer of the latest volume of X-O Manowar and took a deep dive into his inspiration for Shanhara’s characterization, and how he’s been using X-O Manowar to tackle social issues. Originally slated for an April release, this issue is hitting shelves today and we’ve got the spoiler-filled scoop on the issue. So, if you don’t want the issue spoiled, go check it out and come back.

The newest volume has Aric struggling with his place in the world and what it means to be a hero. X-O Manowar #2 is an action-packed chapter that puts a brand-new character, Troy Whitaker, in the spotlight. Will Aric’s new ally help him become the hero that the modern world needs, or will X-O’s primitive ways only cause more damage?

We got to chat with writer Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum about the series and the real-world issues he’s taking head on.

Stay tuned after the interview for a preview of the issue!

Graphic Policy: This series has Aric and Shanhara in situations that we really haven’t seen them in before in that he’s being more of a traditional hero in an urban setting; where did the idea to take the fish out of water concept to the next level come from?

Dennis Hallum: In our very first conversation about the series, Senior Editor Heather Antos and I talked about bringing the series back down to Earth. We’ve seen a lot of X-O Manowar’s battles on distant worlds, toppling alien armadas over the years. We know Aric and Shanhara can stop an invasion, but we’ve seen very little of them on Earth in the here and now. Aric was abducted and enslaved by alien overlords who left him stranded in a future version of home. He’s a hero out of time and that in and of itself is interesting. It allows us to lean into the humanity of the character. To build drama around his blindspots and weaknesses even as he crushes villains underfoot…Which I guess is a long-winded way of saying it was Heather’s idea.

GP: I’ve been loving the characterization of Shanhara – where did the armour’s attitude come from?

DH: Frustration mostly. She’s this brilliant strategist with access to all human knowledge whose impulsive partner controls the arms and legs. Aric and Shanhara trust each other completely, but they couldn’t be more different. She’s the voice always in his ear, telling him to calm down and think of the repercussions. He’s a wrecking-ball tearing up the pavement before she finishes a sentence. It’s a great partnership. They’re better together than apart… But there’s a lot of fun arguing there.

GPYou’ve been able to use Aric to question society’s “progress” rather subtly in the first two issues, such as Aric willingly sharing the deer in issue one; are we likely to see more moments like this in the coming issues?

DH: Yeah, I think it’s one of the most interesting elements of the book’s anachronism. We obviously think of modern society as being super advanced. In many ways it obviously is, but our “grab it, own it, horde it” culture has its problems. There’s a lot we can say about that from Aric’s unique perspective and definitely will be.

GP: The first issue had Aric coming between the police and some kids they were shooting at, which is unfortunately something that’s not unfamiliar to us. Can you talk a little about why you felt that was an important element important to bring to the comic?

DH: One of the best things about working for Valiant is that we get to tackle social issues head-on. We’re not expected to pretend everyone in the city loves and respects the police. One of the obstacles Aric faces in the series is gaining the neighborhood’s trust. He wants to be their hero, but nobody invited him. He’s this big, blue monster who flies through buildings and crashes things. He’s powerful and dangerous and scary if you don’t trust him completely. Those themes seem to fit pretty well into the current conversation about law enforcement…That scene just made sense.

GP: X-O Manowar has Aric being manipulated to step into a civil war in Ukraine. While not exactly what’s going on it has echoes of the reality in Crimea and the nationalist forces at play. Often in comics, you see made-up countries for conflicts but here you’re willing to reference a real-life conflict (though with a bit of a twist on what’s exactly going on). Did you think about using a “fake” country at all? Any thoughts on how it might be taken by certain parties at play there? Part of the conflict is driven by white nationalists, is that going to be touched upon?

DH: The problem with making up a country is that it makes the conflict seem less real. We want the stakes in the book to have real-world weight. That said, I hope people can tell this is superhero fiction and not my treatise on Crimea. I’m not nearly educated enough on Ukrainian politics to put meaningful commentary in the book. Our villain is a very fictional warlord. Our goal was to create a reasonably believable conflict in a place people know.

GP: With the second issue, you’re delving into the influence of the media on our public figures. It’s especially played out in the Ukraine conflict which very much has disinformation/media as an aspect of it. Where’d you get the idea to go in that direction?

DH: I’m fascinated by the influence modern media and social media has over everyone. Sometimes it feels like we live inside a massive propaganda machine designed to make us buy things and hate each other. And if all of that is new and overwhelming to us, how would it feel to a time-stuck Visigoth Prince? You can’t be a public figure in today’s world without intense 24/7 public scrutiny. Everything is being spun and manipulated all the time to make people think this or that…All of which is very frustrating for Aric. He just wants to punch bad things, end wars, and help people. He doesn’t care about his approval rating. He’s not interested in PR.

GP: You’ve tackled some heavy subjects so far (food poverty, police brutality) – what else do you have in store for us?

DH: I’m hoping to balance the budget and decrease the national debt. Once that’s done, the sky’s the limit.

GP: Back on the Ukraine intervention… There’s often a question about heroes not solving real-world issues. You’d think with so much knowledge and power they could cure cancer for instance or end conflict. Is exploring that aspect some of what’s driving this arc?

DH: That’s absolutely the point. When the eyes of the world never close and everyone has an opinion, super heroism becomes a lot trickier. There are real-world ramifications to crashing a helicopter through a building…No matter how evil the helicopter might be. End a war with a punch. Throw a dictator into the ocean. That’s all great, but what happens next? When you power up vigilantism to X-O Manowar levels, there’s no limit to the good he can affect. But rapid change can be very dangerous and is often very unpopular. 

GP: A superhero acting on his own in such a way has to raise eyebrows and concerns from world governments. Is that going to be a part of it?  

DH: That’s a huge part of this arc, yes. One of my favorite new characters in the book, Billionaire Troy Whitaker, gets to be our mouthpiece for those concerns. He’s a blast to write.

GP: Do you think that superheroes interfering in other country’s problems is an area of comics that really hasn’t been explored all that much?

DH: It’s a tricky subject that has definitely been touched on before, the problem becomes maintaining suspension of disbelief when your hero’s existence would likely completely change the world. If New York is full of superheroes and villains, at what point does it stop looking anything like the real NYC? Our solution is to go ahead and let Aric and Shanhara change the world. Should be fun to see what shakes out.

GP: Thanks very much for your time!


Harvey Award-winner DENNIS HOPELESS (Star Wars: Darth Vader – Dark Visions) and astonishing artist EMILIO LAISO (Marvel’s Spider-Man: Velocity) present an action-packed chapter that puts a brand-new character, Troy Whitaker, in the spotlight. Will Aric’s new ally help him become the hero that the modern world needs, or will X-O’s primitive ways only cause more damage?

Today’s New Digital Releases Features Over 175 New Comics from Marvel BOOM!, Image, IDW, and More!

Shang-Chi #3

It’s new comic book day and you can enjoy it with new releases at your local comic shop or digital stores. ComiXology has you covered with over 175 new releases available to you right now. Check out the full listing and start shopping now or check out the individual issues below!

AAM-Markosia

Ablaze

Abstract Studio

AfterShock

American Mythology Productions

Ankama

Archie Comics

AWA Studios

BOOM! Studios

comiXology Submit

Dark Horse Comics

DC Comics

DC Thomson

Dynamite Entertainment

Europe Comics

Harlequin

Heavy Metal

Hermes Press

IDW Publishing

Image Comics

Kodansha

Marvel

Oni Press

Papercutz

Tidalwave Productions

Titan Comics

Valiant Entertainment

Vault Comics

Yen Press

Zenescope


This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

THE RED #1

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

Ever: The Way Out (Abstract Studios) – Terry Moore shifts to graphic novels and while we love his serialized comics, a complete story has us excited. This one about prophecies and fallen angels has us very intrigued.

I Walk With Monsters #1 (Vault Comics) – A story about the monsters within as a woman runs into the man who took away her brother.

Kaiju Score #1 (AfterShock) – It’s the most dangerous heist ever attempted. Four desperate criminals are going all in on a once-in-a-lifetime chance to steal millions in art and turn their miserable lives around. The catch? They have to pull it off under the nose of a one thousand-ton Kaiju.

Nailbiter Returns #7 (Image Comics) – The series has been a blast as its had fun with horror tropes keeping readers on their toes and delivering laughs.

The Other History of the DC Universe #1 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – The first issue is absolutely brilliant as the talented John Ridley explores the DC Universe through the viewpoint of its minority characters.

Paris 2119 (Magnetic Press) – Instantaneous teleportation has altered almost every facet of human civilization but that progress has a price. The sci-fi/cyberpunk story has us intrigued.

Power Pack #1 (Marvel) – The Power Pack is back! But, with a law restricting underage superheroes, will they be able to continue to save the day?

The Red #1 (Heavy Metal Virus) – A single government runs the world after a nuclear war and content deemed emotionally dangerous is prohibited. A group of musicians discovers they’re the key to overthrowing the totalitarian government.

Science Comics: Rocks & Minerals (First Second) – Fun for kids and adults, this series are great graphic novels to learn about their topics.

Shang-Chi #3 (Marvel) – The first two issues have been fantastic as the team has reworked a problematic character. It’s full of action and adding so much depth to the character’s history.

Undiscovered Country #10 (Image Comics) – The series has kept us guessing as to what will happen next. The fact we’re constantly surprised is a good thing.

Yasmeen #4 (Scout Comics) – One of the best comics to come out this year, it’s been heartbreaking every issue.

The Witcher: Fading Memories #1 (Dark Horse) – If you’re a fan of the show, check out the new series!

X-O Manowar #2 (Valiant) – The series has been an interesting look at modern superheroes so far as X-O Manowar attempts to figure out his place in the world. The second issue really focuses on what the impact of superheroes would be in a real-world setting.

Preview: X-O Manowar #2

X-O MANOWAR #2

Written by DENNIS HOPELESS
Art by EMILIO LAISO
Colors by RUTH REDMOND
Letters by HASSAN OTSMANE-ELHAOU
Cover A by CHRISTIAN WARD
Cover B by NETHO DIAZ
Preorder Variant Cover by FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA
1:25 Sword of Shanhara Variant Cover by DANIEL WARREN JOHNSON
On sale NOVEMBER 25th | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

A new threat emerges from the fires of X-O’s latest battle!

Can X-O save the day, or does the world need a new kind of hero?

X-O MANOWAR #2

Today’s New Digital Comics Feature Over 150 New Comics from Marvel, Image, IDW, BOOM!, AfterShock, and more!

We Live #2

It’s Wednesday which means it’s a brand-new comic day! Get your comics in digital form now with over 150 comics to choose from on comiXology. There are new comics from Marvel, AfterShock, BOOM!, Image, IDW, plus tons of indie and small press comics. Check out all of the releases here and get shopping or the releases by publisher below.

AAM-Markosia

AfterShock

Albatross Funnybooks

American Mythology Productions

Ankama

Archie Comics

AWA Studios

BOOM! Studios

comiXology Submit

Dark Horse Comics

DC Comics

Devil’s Due Comics

Dynamite Entertainment

Harlequin

Heavy Metal

Humanoids

IDW Publishing

Image Comics

Lion Forge Comics

Marvel

Oni Press

Papercutz

Red 5 Comics

TidalWave Productions

Titan Comics

Valiant

Vault Comics

Yen Press

Zenescope


This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

It’s the Best of Valiant with this Digital Comic Sale. First Volumes just $0.99

It’s your chance to discover the amazing releases by Valiant with the “Best of Valiant” sale currently occurring on comiXology. The sale features 68 releases and runs until December 3, 2020.

You can get Divinity, Bloodshot, Faith, Harbinger, Imperium, Rai, Ninjak, X-O Manowar, and more!

The first volumes of collections are just $0.99 with other volumes just $2.99 and $3.99. That’s some massive savings of up to 90%!

It’s a hell of a sale and you can stock up on comics for just a few dollars. There’s no excuse and more than enough time to try a first volume and come back for more (trust us, it’s that good).

The sale ends December 3, 2020, so take advantage and save on some awesome comics!


This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Review: RAI #9

RAI #9

The critically-acclaimed post-apocalyptic epic races onward in RAI #9! As Rai faces his strongest foe yet, the curtain is pulled back on this sci-fi world, revealing the dark secrets that lurk underneath. Rai and Raijin believe they’ve found sanctuary in the city of New Ur. Meanwhile, Spylocke determines there may be one last hope to defeat Bloodfather: Ray Garrison. Can she reach the former one-many army or has he succumbed to their arch nemesis?

There is no doubt whatsoever that RAI is Valiant’s best title right now, and in my mind one of the top three titles on the racks (it’s certainly the most consistent in quality). Which brings me to a strange conundrum; the consistency and quality of the book is such that beyond talking about the plot itself, there’s little that I haven’t already written about the comic left to say.

It’s honestly a lovely situation to be in.

The following two paragraphs are taken from my review of the previous issue, not because I’m lazy, but because rather than rewrite the same thing in a different way, I’m being economical with our time. If you read the review of the last issue then you can skip them – if not, then you should really check it out.

There’s no question in my mind anymore that Rai is one of the absolute best series from any publisher currently being published. It is unquestionably Valiant’s best. The first volume of the series has been collected in trade, and you can find my reviews of the first, second, third, and fourth issues at those links. Initially, the series took me by surprise – given how much I loved the precursor, Fallen World, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Rai as much as I have. Every issue has been near perfection. The theme of the series has the inclusion of technology in our lives and the potential future we face with an over-reliance on the devices in our hands, pockets, and on our wrists. One could argue I’m reading too much into the comics, but I’d like to counter that. After all, what a reader takes from a book can be different depending on their perspective, and I know there’s too much technology in my life already.

The core concept of the series has been remarkably simple in that Rai and his younger brother figure who is also an older model android, Raijin (it’s not actually as confusing as it sounds, but to fully understand it you may want to circle back through the first volume of Rai written by Matt Kindt), are searching for Offspirng. Pieces of artificially intelligent code that when returned to Bloodfather will make him nigh unstoppable. Each issue centers around Rai and Raijin and their search for more Offspring, giving the series it’s overarching plot line while allowing Dan Abnett to have each issue effectively tell either a whole story or the first (or second) half of one. It’s in these single issues that Abnett explores the various subtexts that lend themselves so well to science fiction.

Back with me?

Okay. After RAI #8 left our heroes confronting a positronic citizen who had absorbed two of Father’s Seeds, RAI #9 picks up as Rai, Raijin and their human companion Alice enter New Ur to learn more about this potential new ally in the war for the planet’s freedom. It’s a slightly slower issue than we’ve seen before, but no less engaging as Raijin tries to puzzle out what his brother is thinking whilst navigating the city’s prejudice to any non-positronic being. Specifically, Alice, who Raijin is determined to protect. There are some great moments in the book, brought to life by Juan José Ryp in is insanely detailed art style; it constantly amazes me how much he packs into each panel and yet it never distracts from what he wants your eye to be drawn to – it’s a unique balance that Ryp strikes, and it elevates every comic he works on.

His detailed yet gentle style has always been among my favourite art styles for action books, and the lack of heavy inking only serves to emphasize the beauty of the art. Man, Ryp’s art is every bit as good as the story, and elevates the comic to an entirely new level. Coloured by Andrew Dalhouse, the visual presentation of the book is near flawless. I’ve been a huge fan of both Ryp and Dalhouse ever since I first saw their work in a Valiant book, and I have never been disappointed by either man’s work; this book, much like every other in the series, is no exception.

There’s a less immediate threat present in RAI #9, but it’s still present just below the surface, giving the comic a sense of building tension that we’ll see playout in the not too distant future (possibly, for example, Rai #10) as Raijin, Alice and Rai find themselves caught in a situation that they may need to fight their way out of.

The subplot of the comic finds Spylocke trying to rescue what’s left of Bloodshot’s mind from deep within Father’s AI in the hopes that the former soldier can assist them in the war to come. It’s a very digitized segment, and much like any images depicting future hacking (or even a visual interpretation of hacking that’s more than a person at a keyboard), you’ll see some strangely sweeping images that wouldn’t look out of place in a comic about LSD and acid. It’s a unusual combination, but one that’s entirely welcome for the juxtaposition in the images it creates in the comic.

With RAI #9, Abnett, Ryp, Dalhouse, and letterer Dave Sharpe have, yet again, delivered a phenomenal comic; if you’ve not been reading the book so far, then this is an excellent time to pick up the trades and find out what you’ve been missing.

Hint: it’s great.

Story: Dan Abnett Artist: Juan José Ryp
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse Letter: Dave Sharpe

Story: 9.4 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Check Out Today’s New Digital Comic Releases from Marvel, BOOM!, Image, and more!

Taskmaster #1

Check out today’s new digital comics releases on comiXology. It features new releases from Marvel, BOOM!, Image, IDW, and so much more. You can check out all of the releases and get shopping now or the individual issues by the publisher below.

A Wave Blue World

AAM-Markosia

Ablaze

AfterShock

Albatross Funnybooks

American Mythology Productions

Archie Comics

AWA Studios

BOOM! Studios

comiXology Submit

Dark Horse Comics

DC Comics

DC Thomson

Dynamite Entertainment

Harlequin

Hermes Press

Humanoids

IDW Publishing

Image Comics

Keenspot

Kodansha

Lion Forge Comics

Marvel

Oni Press

Queer Comix

Red 5 Comics

Tidalwave Productions

Titan Comics

Valiant

Zenescope


This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

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