“Where I go, blood will be spilt. There may be no return. It is not a place for queens or clergy. “
The X-O Manowar, Aric of Dacia, faces his toughest challenge yet in the penultimate issue of Robert Venditti’s publisher-defining series. As the legend of our favorite space travelling visigoth reaches its conclusion, Venditti pulls out the stops to craft an exciting final battle against the massive and menacing Torment.
Though there’s plenty of action to be found, several problems keep X-O Manowar #49 from comic greatness. The series has had numerous artists throughout its 50 issue run. Cary Nord, Rafa Sandoval, and Diego Bernard are just some of the heavyweights that have made the pages of X-O so inviting over the last 4 years. While the work of penciler Joe Bennett, inker Marcio Loerzer and colorist Ulises Arreola is admirable it lacks the profundity needed for a proper sendoff. Theirs is a bright and colorful battlefield, somewhat inappropriate for such a grim story. The odds are stacked against the combined forces of Earth and the Vine, but thanks to a last minute alliance Aric may just win one for the home team.
The Torment are just as mysterious now as they were in their debut in issue #47. Though this is the third issue to feature these behemoths, we still have very little knowledge of them outside of a Vine legend. With their unique and almost non-violent way of absorbing their victims The Torment’s invasion initially seemed like a misunderstanding. While that may have made for an interesting story, Venditti seems content to leave them as the simple blue giants they appear to be. Keeping the antagonists two dimensional would imply there’s more pages left to explore our central character. Unfortunately, Aric is unwavering as the headstrong warrior he’s been in every issue.
There’s no quiet character building to mark the finale; no intimate scenes with Aric and the supporting cast. It’s clear the creative team has chosen to focus solely on the epic scale and action rather than the motivations of the characters within. It makes for an amusing spectacle, but not a compelling story. Our main character’s particular lack of forethought and rationale is more than enough to pull the reader away from the pages. A bland and conventional villain coupled with an empty-headed hero make this one of the most forgettable arcs in X-O’s history. Even a tragic twist in the final panels can’t make up for the story’s stoic and superficial approach. By trying to go out with a bang the series barely manages a whisper.
While the settings and designs are eye-catching, the art feels too bright and cartoonish to match the grim tone of the comic. The pencils by Joe Bennett work well when depicting large spaceships and battling vine warriors, but lack subtlety when attempting conversations or brief character moments. As most of the attention is paid to the impressive battle it makes sense for smaller details to be glossed over. This is especially disappointing when factoring in the quickly approaching finale. Bennett’s work is admirable but it doesn’t have the same patience and weight as the work some of modern comics’ greatest artists have contributed to this run. Though going out in style, the pages of X-O Manowar #49 are forgettable when compared to the series’ previous artists.
As the pages of X-O Manowar #49 come to a close you are left wanting more substance and less action. The mysterious Torment are visually engaging but can’t quite carry the same importance as the series’ previous villains, making for an impressive battle but one that closely resembles the many that came before it. Aric of Dacia has traveled space and time to stand as Earth’s defender. Under Robert Venditti he has been both King and brave warrior, but here he dives foolishly headstrong into odds well against his favor. He and his allies are more concerned with a flashy climax than with understanding or studying their galactic foe. With cameos by series guest-stars the Armorines and Commander Trill, Venditti is connecting all of the loose strings to tie the end of his tale. It’s nice to see it all come together, but without an interesting hook to engage you the issue fails to serve as the beginning of a proper sendoff. Though the worlds of Earth and Vine are at stake, this arc serves as little more than a final set piece for the lengthy run.
- Interesting Alliances
- Non-Stop Action
- Epic Scale
- Forgettable Art and Villains
- Lack of Character Development
- Poor Decision Making