Review: "X-O Manowar" Establishes Itself As One Of The Industry's Top Superhero Books

Review: "X-O Manowar" Establishes Itself As One Of The Industry's Top Superhero Books

Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)

In a tight economy, it's not always clear what you should spend your hard-earned money on, and with comic books getting more and more expensive, your dollar doesn’t go as far at the comic shop as it did in the past. We here at Complex feel your pain, so we're providing you with a rundown of the best comics coming out on October 24, 2012.

X-O Manowar #6

What it’s about: In 402 A.D., Aric of Dacia—heir to the Visigoth throne—was abducted by a mysterious alien race on Earth. He was kept prisoner aboard their ship, and once he escaped, he realized that due to time displacement, 1,600 years had passed. Now equipped with some powerful alien armor that reacts with his body chemistry, Aric has been transformed into a living weapon.

What to expect this month: This issue directly continues the events from #5, as Aric gets drugged by the mysterious Ninjak, who was contacted to dispense of him and return the armor to The Vine. But things don’t go that smoothly for the mysterious Ninjak, and Aric is soon freed from his poisoning as all hell breaks loose aboard an airship.

X-O Manowar #6 is wall-to-wall action on a blockbuster scale, and writer Robert Venditti hits all of the right notes for a story of this scope. As the action takes place, though, Venditti is also careful to make sure that certain plot and character beats are being given attention as well. This is an extremely well-rounded read that starts off fast and doesn't let up until the final pages. The story ends with a compelling cliffhanger that should make the coming issues more intriguing, especially when it comes to the dynamic between X-O and Ninjak.

For fans just getting into the Valiant universe, X-O Manowar is the best place to start. It’s the most accessible read currently at the company, and it’s exactly how great monthly superhero comics should be. And when you add in Lee Garbett's appropriately action-packed artwork, X-O Manowar is about as much fun as you’ll have with a comic all month.

Ghost #1

What it’s about: Dark Horse’s new volume of Ghost is a modernization of a series that began way back in the mid-‘90s when the company was still trying to find its footing. This new edition, overseen by on-the-rise writer Kelly Sue Deconnick, follows two men, Tommy and Vaughn, who unwittingly release a mysterious phantom while producing a TV show about ghost hunting. 

The first official issue kicks off with Ghost coming to terms with herself and doing some intensive soul-searching. These scenes are easily the highlight of the issue as we see her try to adjust to everyday life, and failing in grand fashion. As she struggles with her newfound existence, Tommy and Vaughn attempt to help her find out who she is and where she came from.

Deconnick sets all of these conflicts up nicely, especially the surprising villainous reveal at the end, but there's something lacking from this debut issue overall. There are good hooks and ideas; it just feels like there should have been more energy and intrigue leading up to the final page. Despite the relatively slow pace for a debut issue, though, there's no denying the power of that cliffhanger or Phil Noto's brilliant artwork.

Every panel Noto touches here is sublime; all of his illustrations have the ability to succinctly tell the story without the use of superfluous word balloons or dialogue. He and Deconnick work well together as she takes full advantage of his talent and lets his art do a lot of the emotional storytelling.

Dancer (Trade Paperback)

What it’s about: If you have been following our comic book reviews over the last few months, then you’ll know that we’re absolutely crazy about Image Comics’ Dancer. Well, now the miniseries has been collected into one book that you have absolutely no reason not to track down.

Written by Nathan Edmondson and illustrated by Nic Klein, Dancer follows the life of a former spy, named Alan, and his ballerina girlfriend, Quinn. Together, they live a private life, and she is completely unaware of his former job as an assassin. But one day their world is shattered as a clone of Alan barges into their lives and wreaks havoc on their relationship.

This is an action/espionage tale that's like unlike anything we’ve seen in comics for quite some time. There are no superpowers, no sci-fi weapons, and no gaudy costumes to stare at. Instead this is a realistic, European-style action story from start to finish. Edmondson’s scripts put a focus on character rather than explosions, which works well as we wind up becoming invested in the actual people that populate this world. And when this book isn’t delicately creating tension through drama, it also brings us Hollywood action scenes and car chases that make the Bond movies look like arthouse dramas.

The real credit for these scenes has to go to artist Nic Klein. His meticulously detailed version of European cities like Dresden make the whole story much more believable; thus, we’re more inclined to be invested in the tale. And with both the writer and artist giving us their A material, it should come as no surprise that the entire book works so well.

Books like Dancer are the reason why every comic fan owes it to themselves to jump headfirst into the indie world. This is a genre-bending tale with heart and explosions that Hollywood would have an extremely difficult time trying to replicate.

RELATED: 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Reading Valiant Comics
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Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)

Tags: valiant-entertainment, dark-horse-comics, image-comics, dancer, x-o-manowar
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