The release of three titles would be considered a bare-bones effort from the likes of DC, Marvel, and Image, but for a small publisher with a concise universe like Valiant, it’s massive. These aren’t smaller titles, but the ones that are crucial to the publisher’s success. And so, without any further adieu…
X-O Manowar #36
The third chapter of the “Dead Hand” arc is yet another strong issue by writer Robert Venditti and artist Diego Bernard. Over the course of the series, Venditti has put Aric on the path adapting to modern society from the 16th century warrior that he was. But this arc, and particularly this issue, is monumental for the character’s growth and becoming a fully formed hero. He is commanding but not tyrannical, and he is desperate to save the remaining members of the Vine – his one-time captors.
Aric’s emergence as full-fledged hero is no better exemplified than when calls a meeting with the other armors throughout the universe (the X-O Manowar armor that he wears is not only sentient, but also not the only one out there). This once-proud, arrogant warrior begs for their assistance to save lives. The result sets up not only an amazing splash page by Bernard – who’s art is stellar throughout – but also a large scale conflict in the next issue.
Unsurprisingly, X-O Manowar soars above the competition as it has month after month.
What in the serious hell did I just read?! Joshua Dysart and Doug Braithwaite’s work with Valiant’s favorite bad-guy continues to provide tension, shocks, and the occasional hint of humor. But make no mistake, Imperium #4 is full of some dark, dark stuff.
Braithwaite’s art really stands tall here. He produces some great visuals, both beautiful and horrifying. There were moments that I had to turn away, even if briefly, at what was produced on the page.
One of my favorite subplots in any comic is the humanization of Mech-Major, or as he prefers to be called, “Sunlight of the Snow”. Not only is the visual of an oversized robot attending therapy sessions humorous, but it also provides some fascinating character development by simply peeling back layers.
Matt Kindt and Pere Perez produce another excellent issue, this time concluding the latest (and most unconventionally structured) arc of Unity yet. After three issues showing the members of Unity recover from their latest adventure – each in their own unique ways – Unity #18 is a pure, knock-down, drag-out brawl between the trio of Livewire, Ninjak, and Eternal Warrior against Malgam, wrapping up one of the few dangling threads from the “Armor Hunters” crossover.
Perez’s art is well-suited for this action heavy issue, though it is almost too-pretty for some blows to land with their intended weight. Some moments even come across as comical instead of brutal, unfortunate when the latter is the desired aesthetic. That complaint aside, Perez has a talent for choreographing action sequences and moving his characters through space and panels. There’s also a hilarious sequence of cartoon violence which serves to both break the tension and establish the threat at hand.
If there’s a Valiant title that can be enjoyed by new and longtime readers alike, it’s Unity. Kindt and Perez deliver a satisfying conclusion to the series’ latest arc while simultaneously putting the pieces in motion for the team’s next mission.