Dead Hand part 2 continues in X-O Manowar #35 and it ramps the story up to a new level and a new target for death.
The official description from Valiant:
DEAD HAND means death! In the far reaches of deep space, the ultimate fail-safe of an extinct alien race has finally counted down to zero…and the robot army called DEAD HAND has been activated. The civilization that built them has fallen…and, now, to combat the doomsday threat that destroyed their world, DEAD HAND will complete the mission that their creators could not. Soulless and brutal, this billion-strong legion is the phantom army of a dead world…and it will cleanse the universe by any means necessary.
As with most things X-O Manowar, writer Robert Venditti, pulls very few punches and issue #35 is no exception. Even though the Armor Hunters are gone they left behind a fail safe which has caused the star Alpha Centauri to go supernova all destroy the inhabitants of planet Loam. Aric their former slave, now champion, rushes to save the doomed alien race. It’s obvious that Venditti pulls out all the stops and what follows is both tragic and poignant all in an effort to set Dead Hand toward a new target. The beginning was all action with great pacing and excitement.
Venditti has taken Aric from slave to revenge driven warrior to ultimate hero and protector. Here Aric is compassionate and selfless but soon his rage will be reignited in the aftermath of the attack of Loam. After the devastation Dead Hand causes we get more of a complete understanding of what they are, what their mission entails and what enormous odds Aric has to face. X-O Manowar has always faced foes who seem unbeatable but Venditti manages to make the Dead Head feel different and for once a foe Aric might actually fear. He will have to plan rather than act on pure will and instinct which is a new direction and trait for X-O Manowar.
Diego Bernard gives the reader a sense of the enormous scope of this battle and the epic scale of space and the universe in his art. X-O Manowar, at heart, is an intergalactic story and Bernard really expands on it’s sci-fi roots this issue. He and Venditti are both able to take an bizarre looking alien race and give them a sense of humanity and heart.
This chapter of the Dead Hand sets up for something even bigger in both size and scope. The Armor Hunters machines move on after their destruction and their new destination is going to put Aric at the forefront of an epic battle. Even though Aric has a personal stake at what’s to come, Venditti makes sure that Aric also remembers the Vine and the casualties that took from Dead Hand. Aric protects his own but also defends even those who once enslaved him and his people. X-O Manowar is a universal hero and Venditti continues to raise the bar for what it means to be a hero.