If you need to catch up on X-O Manowar, AIPT is a great place. We’ve interviewed writer Dennis Hopeless, reviewed the comics, and have previews too. You’ll want to refresh yourself, since the series has been on hiatus since January, but it makes its return to comic book shops on August 18th! Ahead of its release, AIPT has an exclusive first look at the issue before anyone else gets to peep it and, surprise, it’s rather good.
This issue opens where we left Aric under the sea and battling a nanite monster. He’s sticking lower and lower and losing consciousness. It’s always darkest before the dawn, but at what price is always the question. Hopeless is clearly pushing X-O Manowar harder than ever, and it’s going to seriously muck with the computer A.I. in his suit known as Shanhara. Expect this issue to reset what we know and move the character in a new direction.
These creators are some of the best in the business. Hopeless and artist Emilio Laiso are seasoned comics creators with many creator-owned and Big Two titles under their belt, Ruth Redmond has impressed with her colors throughout this series, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou is an Eisner winning editor and one of the best letterers around.
Otsmane-Elhaou’s letters are the first thing you’ll notice when you crack this book open. As Aric drifts down to the seafloor, the captions bring you downwards with him. They’re also a bit off-kilter which conveys the fact that Aric is losing consciousness. Keep a close eye on the lettering in this issue as there always seems to be a clever idea at work from the word balloon position to the look of the tail.
Fans of The Matrix might dig this issue too. With Shanhara’s life in question, Hopeless and Laiso steer into the realm of the computer world. By the end of the issue, there’s enough said and done to show who the next enemy is and it appears the creators are taking it to a new sci-fi level. There’s a clever twist on the computer world explained via Aric’s new compatriot Troy Whitaker, who is a futurist with a bit of an ego. In fact, expect a lot more about this character who up until this issue felt like a bad guy pretending to be good. Hopeless does well to establish which side he’s on here.
This series has firmly established a strong relationship with Shanhara and Aric, at first with a buddy-cop sort of relationship given their banter. This fifth issue puts a new spin on their relationship making this new direction feel earned while also putting into question where they go from here. It’s been obvious from the get-go Hopeless and Laiso have aimed to develop the character in new ways and this issue feels like the start of a brand new direction for the characters.
In general, this issue does look a touch rougher around the edges than previous issues. There’s a darker tone to the colors which further makes the art come off as a bit muddy. At one point, the X-O Manowar suit does something spectacular, and while it looks cool it’s not immediately obvious what we’re looking at. Thanks to a bit of dialogue explaining what we’re looking at it’s clear, but the art, in general, could use some brightening up.
Overall, X-O Manowar #5 is a strong return for the series after a short hiatus as it establishes a whole new enemy. The dynamics between characters that have been introduced under Hopeless and Laiso are further developed, and this issue sets a new course for its second arc that has an exciting sci-fi spin well worth checking out.
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