Valiant Entertainment is very good at reinventing their heroes — look no further than Dennis Hopeless’ X-O Manowar. Along with artist Emilio Laiso, the new series has felt fresh with a perky A.I. in lead hero Aric’s head and the very real notion that optics matter when there are cameras on you always. The third issue is out on December 23rd, and I was lucky enough to get an early peek after speaking to Hopeless himself. What I found was a great comic!
While I had some reservations with the second issue, the third issue settles in with a new compatriot of Aric’s who has convinced him his public appearance is important. Meanwhile, his bitter rival grows in power just as Aric grows comfortable with caring about optics. For a character born in an ancient time, Hopeless is exploring the awkward nature of caring about something like social media which is seemingly unimportant (and certainly not something you can punch).
It’s obvious Hopeless is aware of the dynamics between Aric and other characters are key to these characters’ identities. His unique perspective as an ancient warrior plays well off the casual family he lives with, the super-rich benefactor he’s taking advice from, and the general dynamic of his relationship to modern technology and marketing. Leaning into these elements further strengthens the series and makes it feel unique.
Colored by Ruth Redmond, Laiso’s pages look fabulous. The issue opens with a cool lava rescue which leads to Aric seemingly enjoying being that kind of hero on TV. There is a fabulous action sequence near the end of the book that is a sight to see. Not only because it’s a cool sci-fi battle, but there are some creative choices that amp up the action for longtime readers. I continue to enjoy how Laiso draws the suit and how Redmond colors the visor on it.
That includes the lettering by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, who plays around with word balloons interacting with the art. A balloon might tuck behind a flying rock, or literally loop around Aric’s arm. It’s a really cool effect that adds a new dimension to the comic.
X-O Manowar #3 is one of those issues that feels like it could have been the first issue in the series. It amps up the stakes, shows our hero trying out a new thing, and hits a groove. This third issue takes the premise and runs with it, further defining X-O Manowar as a unique superhero that stands out in a medium overrun with superheroes.
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