Synopsis: Aric continues to fight for the deceptive azurian emperor. Every victory for Aric reveals how deep the emperor’s deceptions go. With the monoliths raining destruction on the planet of Gorin, Aric must rely heavily on his armor to overcome this great threat. The Manowar makes quick work out of the giant ships, but the collateral damage is extensive. The death toll is great, and our hero, turned general, has lost his one refuge on this world. Aric’s relationship with Schon continues to be strained under the immense horrors of war. However, the true terror does not stem from the newly defeated Monoliths, but the reason for their aggression in the first place: the azurian emperor.
Review: As much as X-O Manowar has been incredible space epic about war, it has also been a story of power. Old sayings about the corrupting influence of power ring true throughout every issue. The conflict isn’t really about warring factions, or alien visitors in Kubrick-like objects. It is about people (specifically men [surprise]), and how they wield the power they have accrued. The cadmium president used it to maintain the decadent status quo of his people, the burnt (for the most part) used it to secure their borders, and the azurian president uses his machinations to conquer the world. Lastly, Aric does everything he can to resist the allure of Shanhara. It is plain to see that Aric is losing his resolve; moreover, the bulk of the conflicts he has faced could easily be solved by fully embracing the armor. Although this battle seems futile, the act of defiance is the Aric’s relationship to power.
Crain’s art speaks for itself. Gone are the warmer colors of the previous arc. It is replaced by a darkness that pervades the current elements of the issue. Literally, there is so little light, but it clarifies the feeling of the obscurity that war and greed generate. There are times where the distinction between characters is difficult to discern, but, in the fog of battle, soldiers tend to lose sight of themselves and who the enemy is. It works. On the other hand, this is not to say that the level of craftsmanship dips at all. Every page is impeccable.
Conclusion: X-O still rocks, the art continues to seamlessly elevate the story, and I (to nobody’s astonishment) am still hooked.