Originally published at InfiniteComix.com
It’s a week of celebration in the world of Valiant. The little-publisher-that-could is commemorating 25 years since the first the publication of its flagship character – X-O Manowar. Not to be outdone, Matt Kindt is launching a new arc in Unity, which is always worth checking out.
It’s the start of a new arc, and with it writer Matt Kindt plays with the legacy of Unity. For longtime readers, the term “unity” holds substantial weight thanks to the original “Unity Saga” of the early 1990s. In terms of the modern Valiant Universe, readers may recall back in the series’ first arc that there was a Unity team before Eternal Warrior, Ninjak, and Livewire were brought together. Kindt takes that notion even further, as a new enemy named the War Monger emerges, and it is revealed that she has been around for nearly as long as Gilad and his brothers – and has taken on Unity’s earliest incarnations.
Unity #19 is a well executed origin story for War Monger, spends a little too much time telling readers what is going on rather than showing. This is the issue’s main flaw, a result from the narrative’s structure. With Monger explaining her history to an off-panel audience, nearly the entire issue is a series of flashbacks and the accompanying exposition. The art fares much better, as Jose Luis, Jefte Palo, and Andrew Dalhouse collaborate to make for a beautiful looking comic book.
X-O Manowar 25th Anniversary Special
I found Robert Venditti and CAFU’s celebration of the X-O Manowar heritage baffling. The creators have put together an extremely well-crafted issue which retreads a lot of well-worn territory. Since readers were first introduced to Aric of Darcia, Venditti and his cavalcade of artists have been slowly and organically building up the heritage behind the armor known as Shanhara. Despite some new (and somewhat depressing) reveals, the X-O Manowar 25th Anniversary Special reads like little more than a callous info-dump.
Those that have yet to take the Valiant plunge should give this a chance as it recaps a good portion of the publisher’s longest-running title. However, it does nothing to truly celebrate the publication heritage of the titular character, nor does it provide much of value to those that have been reading since the beginning. Despite my reservations, I still maintain that this is a well executed issue on its own merits. Lastly, CAFU delivers astounding artwork, from character models to panel layouts. X-O Manowar 25th Anniversary Special may be a rough go from a narrative standpoint, but it certainly is great on the eyes.