It’s been a long, strange journey for Aric of Dacia. Aliens, time displacement, nearly all powerful armor that bonds to you. But just when things seem to be getting normal after an insanely harrowing fight with the Armor Hunters, well, things just got turned up a notch.
Writer – Robert Venditti
Artist – Diego Bernard
Publisher – Valiant
Review by Jeremias de Leon
As spoiler free a summary I’ll give is as follows. The story starts off harmless enough. It seems Aric needs to check something out and help the Vine now that he’s on good terms with them. When he arrives he sees the Vine under attack by an enemy that’s overwhelmingly powerful and that has some intentions that aren’t quite clear at first.
By this point Venditti is really comfortable and at home with the character of Aric and this universe. So character interactions are really nice to see and feel like people you know pretty well by now. As for the story of this new arc, it seems as though Robert isn’t satisfied with what he pulled off last time and wants to up the stakes. This new Dead Hand, which seems to function like the real life program of the same name, is something unlike anything Aric has encountered before. Of course Aric has faced computers and robots before but nothing of the magnitude of this machine.
This issue also does a fantastic job of setting up the rest of the arc. By the time you have finished reading this issue it definitely seems like things might not ever be the same again. At the very least, if X-O Manowar is able to defeat his new foe. What you see Dead Hand do at one point in the comic will make you just what can Aric do against something that can do what it just did.
Diego Bernard’s pencils and Brian Reber’s colors are just a treat for the eyes. If the story wasn’t up to par the art alone would still make this comic a worthy buy. Just to look at. Yes, I am being serious. Diego has a way with details that makes even the alien planets look like lived in places and believable habitats. Brian has a way of making the art come to life and give it personality. The colors make the art look like the art is actually something that just happened to be caught in a still frame.
The team of Bernard, Venditti and Reber are almost unmatched. All together they create a universe that feels alive and has a sense of wonder about it. If you have been reading Valiant’s comics since day one this issue is something that might exceed your expectations even if they were already high. If you’re brand new to Valiant or X-O Manowar this is a perfect issue to start. With a new story arc comes a story that feels like a new start and you won’t have to know all of the back history to enjoy it. I give X-O Manowar # 34 a 5 out of 5.