Aric of Dacia just can’t seem to get a break. X-O Manowar #34 could be his toughest battle yet and that’s saying a lot!
The official description from Valiant:
He survived ENTER: NINJAK. He waged war on PLANET DEATH. And now he must defend the Earth from an unholy reckoning… and the doomsday protocol codenamed: DEAD HAND! This is it… X-O Manowar… face-to-face with a ROBOT ARMY HELLBENT ON THE DESTRUCTION OF EVERYTHING!
Robert Venditti is a cruel man, either that, or he doesn’t like Aric very much, as he continually throws the everything and the proverbial cosmic kitchen sink at him! All kidding aside, X-O Manowar is one of the most tested and challenged characters in the Valiant universe and readers shouldn’t want it any other way. Yes, Venditti is merciless in his assault against Aric but it also what makes him a great hero. X-O Manowar #34 begins the Dead Hand and besides being a great jumping on point for new readers it is easily one of the most complex plots in the series.
X-O Manowar #34 runs a thread through the X-O story arcs so far from the Vine to Armor Hunters and one can only imagine that Venditti hasn’t even scratched the surface yet. The issue kicks off with a flashback of an Armor Hunters, all out battle, prior to what’s known as the “activation.” Then, Aric must once again leave his people behind as he travels to the planet Loam to protect the Vine, the same alien race that enslaved him for thousands of years, now under attack from a robot army and entity known as Dead Hand. Dead Hand is more that just a robot army, they are a robot army nearly the size of a small planet.
The action is intense and it’s almost non-stop throughout. Diego Bernard has his hands full this issue with a myriad of tasks that run the gamut of sci-fi tech to alien physiology and did I mention the action? Yeah, he nails it. The most daunting task is the swarm of robots that makes up Dead Hand. It is a dense landscape to stage all the action from and Bernard handles it expertly. Even with all the chaos and complexity the majority of X-O Manowar #34 delivers, Bernard is as equally gifted with the simple stripped down panels of which the final few pages are comprised. Simple yet highly emotional and impactful.
Venditti shocks readers in the end and for the first time Aric seems not only vulnerable but more defeated than ever before in what he fails to do. X-O Manowar has faltered before, others have paid the price, but never on this scale and that’s saying a lot when it comes to what Venditti has put Aric through prior to Dead Hand. X-O Manowar #34 is a fast-paced issue with plenty of action and emotional drama. As Valiant’s flagship title it continues to set the standard and rarely has any superhero title had the consistency that Venditti has maintained throughout X-O Manowar‘s run. Venditti and Bernard are on the top of their game with Dead Hand which looks to set the bar for the series higher than ever before.