Wednesday, November 13, 2013

X-0 Manowar: Planet Death TPB

I think it is time we had a talk about Valiant Entertainment.

I was a HUGE fan of the original Valiant back in the day. So I’m the target audience for this modern day relaunch. I have to say, overall, I’m very impressed. I’m collecting these new Valiant books digitally. Comixology has regular sales of just about the entire universe, so I find myself buying almost every book in the line when the appropriate sales kick off.

The creative teams on these books are fascinating, generally consisting of what I consider B-level Marvel and DC talent. Since those tend to be my favorite types of creators, the quality of these books is remarkably solid. You’ve heard of these writers, you’ve heard of the artists. This is good stuff.

Planet Death wraps up the initial “spider-alien” storyline that dominated the original X-0’s attention for so long. Aric is a Visigoth, captured by cruel aliens and forced into slavery until he discovers the holy armor of Shanhara. The aliens, known as the Vine, are furious with Aric for escaping and making off with their holy artifact. After repeated attempts on his life (including a pretty sweet fight with Ninjak!), Aric gets tired of it and heads to the Vine’s homeworld. He is a total maniac, killing dozens or hundreds of spider-aliens as he brings the planet to heel. Hence the title, Planet Death.

Robert Venditti does a remarkable job actually putting some moral conflict into this black and white story. He actually has some spider-aliens we can root for! I’m not sure if they are good, but they are definitely not as bloodthirsty and cruel as most of their kind. It is a neat trip seeing Aric very slowly come around to the idea that he doesn’t have to slaughter the entire Vine race. It is also a delight seeing the human slaves of different eras and locations come together to throw off their captors (along with some interesting alien allies too).

Cary Nord and Trevor Hairsine handle the art, and it is wonderful. The X-O Manowar looks just like I remember it (even if it has been modernized, it FEELs right, an important distinction from the soulless new 52 costumes). One of the neater aspects of the art is the absolute lethality of the Shanhara armor. I mean, the laser beams practically burn off the page due to the strong coloring.

These Valiant books are darn good. And when you can get them for 99 cents each in a digital sale? That’s a STEAL! GOOD!

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