When you read X-O Manowar there is one question that always lingers… is it a zero or the letter “O” that comes after the X? We may not ever figure this out (Editor: Yes, Dave is the only one wondering this, since everyone and their grandma, including Valiant, spells it with the letter “O”), but we will learn if his suit is a threat to himself and all of humanity. Why? Because there are some armor hunters who are going to take it for that very reason, whether that danger is real or not. Is it good?
Armor Hunters #2 (Valiant Entertainment)
Even though there have been a few tie-in issues to this Valiant event/series, this issue picks up right where we left off with issue #1. Mexico City has been destroyed as the armor hunters are delivering a message: “Give us the armor or suffer the same threat to another major city.”
This issue focuses on getting a few chess pieces in the right places and it does this by having the bad guys unleash some four legged monsters at every location X-O has been to in times past. Also, Bloodshot is set up to join the fight. In between we learn a lot about the suit, presumably the threat it could have posed, but its current wearer has somehow kept it from being the threat these hunters think it could be.
Cue dramatic music.
The bad guys continue to be the most interesting part of this series. The last issue was excellent at showing us the stakes that were in play and at the same time making us empathize with the bad guys’ motivations. The only problem is they’re willing to kill all of Earth if it means protecting the universe; that’s how bad the X-O suit is.
Of course, humans, being the fickle, ignorant creatures that we are will fight to the end simply so we can’t be told what to do. Even though there are some obvious plot maneuverings in this issue I rather liked the pace. Writer Robert Venditti has a handle for the big moments and we get a nice action sequence to satiate our summer blockbuster needs. Venditti also handles the deeper character moments well; it’s interesting to note how X-O is basically an angry impatient person (which is typically rather boring to read), so Venditti has stuffed the issue with calmer minds to offset the fact; it’s a clever way of keeping the entire issue an engaging read.
The art by Doug Braithwaite is once again, quite good, and I prefer it over any other summer event story out there right now. The art is rather detailed, but never loses the dramatic thread that a scene may need to be punched up. I particularly like how tired and wartorn he’s made the main villain; every scene he’s in has you actually feeling bad for him, and this is knowing he just ordered the death of millions of people. You want to hand the guy a beer, rub his shoulders, and wish he’d take a load off already. That’s a rather impressive feat considering he’s supposed to be the one we hate.
He seems rather unperturbed about not knowing his name.
The art is done by Marcelo Ferreira, the same man who did issue #1, and it’s a lot better on the pacing than last issue which was done by Ron Wimberly. Not to knock Wimberly, but the art flows nicely here and the ben-day dots usage continues to send this comic back in time. The action sequence has a lot of manga style lines to express the energy and motion, which is a cool way to enhance the action.
Deleted scene from The Sound of Music.
Is It Good?
This continues to be the best summer event series of the year. The story is grounded very well in a reality similar to our own, the threat is real to all of humanity and the characters are interesting. Do not miss this one.