Review: X-O Manowar #21 by Robert Venditti, Cary Nord, Trevor Hairsine, and Vicente Fuentes

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Review: X-O Manowar #21

“Asylum”

Published by Valiant Entertainment

Written by Robert Venditti

Art by Trevor Hairsine, Cary Nord, and Vicente Fuentes

Coloured by Ulises Arreola

The Plot

There is a flashback to Thrace in 382 AD where the Visigoths try to gain freedom from Rome.  Their leader Alaric and Rolf are dealing the aftermath of the battle.  The latter debates with Insa why young Aric is protected from seeing them fight.  Afterwards, Aric’s father impresses upon him the importance of one day reclaiming Dacia and how they were meant to view the world as a people.  It is now the present day and Aric and his fellow Visigoths are in a detention center and his bond with the armour has been disrupted (by events over in Unity).  Aric is summoned and Volo offers to fight for him, but Aric is determined to find out what is going on.  He is met by Colonel Capshaw from Military Exterrestrial Reconnaissance Outpost (MERO) who gives it to him pretty straight.  Aric attempts an attack, but it ends up having unexpected repercussions.  Afterwards, Capshaw begins to reveal her plans for Aric.  While under examination, they make some discoveries about Aric and Capshaw is ready to make a deal.

The Breakdown

This was a solid issue, which surprised me a bit because sometimes issues can lull between big battles.  I was interested in what the fallout was going to be and I like how Aric is finally forced to listen to reason.  Capshaw’s talk with him really put his arrival since the Planet Death arc into perspective.  Overall I liked Capshaw’s approach to everything in this issue.  Aric is damn near invincible and awhile ago I began to wonder how would they keep his story interesting.  Well there are a lot of pieces at play now that have really added to the overall story.  I enjoyed how Volo is one of Aric’s greatest supporters now.  This ended up being a bit of a swerve for me because I thought he would fall into the story of being the guy who would slowly plot against Aric and lead a mutiny or something.  The changes that are coming for Aric do have me wondering what exactly is going on with him.  I liked the flashback as well because they remind the reader that Aric comes from an oppressed background, which continues to drive his actions.  Otherwise his actions would have absolutely no depth and there would be no sympathy for him and his people.  I also like Aric’s resolve to fight to the bitter end.  They are enslaved and have no power whatsoever, but he’ll do whatever he can to try and turn the tide in their favour.  The art was very consistent as always in this title.  When I enjoy looking at an issue that is mostly exposition then that’s a win for me.  However, I really enjoyed Arreola’s colours in this issue as they really stood out.  Good stuff from him this month.  Another good issue this month…

BUT…

The cover did not match what happened in this issue.  I wasn’t overly disappointed or anything though.  Also, there wasn’t anything that stuck out at me that I disliked.

Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?

Buy It.  This was a bit of a setup issue, but it did a good job of doing so.  This continues to be a steady book.  I much prefer Venditti’s work in this title compared to his stuff in Green Lantern.  He’s kept the overall story moving at a good rate and nothing feels forced in this series.  As a result, the pacing has been very good.  Valiant was my favorite publisher last year and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do this year.

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