The last issue of X-O Manowar was but a dream. Aric of Dacia flashback dreamt of his glory days gashing up Roman soldiers with an old lover and romantic horseback rides with his best friend (shouldn’t that be the other way around?).
Now that nap time’s over, X-O faces the Armor Hunters’ contingency plan: The Dead Hand. ::cue dramatic music:: Is it good?
X-O Manowar #34 (Valiant Entertainment)
Poor Saana. Last issue while Aric of Dacia sleep-drifted through space he made the cardinal R&B song sin of calling out another woman’s name in bed; now in X-O Manowar #34 the guy rushes off to face down the Dead Hand and save the world without even giving her as much as a peck goodbye. Men: we can be such insensitive pricks sometimes, can’t we? (Don’t laugh and start calling women “side chicks” yet — all this neglect is going to come back and bite Aric in the ass, just you wait.)
Venditti is a writer to be admired. Not just because his introduction of the Dead Hand hits hard, with a swarm of robotic attackers blotting the planet Loam’s sun like a biblical plague, but because he does it without a hint of pretension; Venditti could have easily dragged the introduction of the Dead Hand out for another issue to bolster anticipation/buildup but in the span of a few pages bodies lay strewn, soil lays smoking, and circumstances already look very dire for our boy Aric.
So far the Dead Hand exudes the aura of a Death Star/Deus Ex Machina from Matrix Revolutions conflation, with cooler variants of the Battle Droids from the Star Wars prequels as his posse for good measure.
Penciler Diego Bernard gives the main infantry drones similar designs (sleek and humanoid) but the real pleasure comes from his creative flair per insectile drones that quickly sample Loam’s flora/fauna, hulking metal juggernauts that launch heat seeking missiles at attacking starfighters and the distinct hivemind voice of the Dead Hand narrating protocol the entire time with command line interface text.
Is It Good?
X-O Manowar is nothing short of excellent. Venditti establishes a powerful threat that hits like a megaton bomb and then doesn’t let up. If you’re an invasion scene junkie or just a fan of well-crafted sci-fi in general, there’s no way XO-Manowar #34 won’t have you craving more by issue’s end.