I wasn’t around for the full adventure in Matt Kindt’s run of X-O Manowar, but I was glad to be able to make it to this end regardless. When you think of the most action-packed and endearing book that Valiant has to offer? X-O Manowar is the book which quickly comes to mind. Aric has come a long way, to even find himself in this position where he has become so notorious for being powerful that bounty hunters could be so bold to attack him on his home turf, twice.
Now with that said, the madness of those bounty hunters came and went with the events of X-O Manowar #25. So it was anyone’s wonder what would be done with this issue to bring things to a close. There could have been something bigger awaiting Aric on this final chapter, or there could have been more effort put into creating a conclusion which better sums up this chapter in Aric’s life. The beginning scene almost left you with the impression that they would go for the latter, but I’m glad that Kindt stuck to what he tends to do best with books like this. This issue did have action, but it also served as a moment of reflection for Aric. Getting back to what would be considered normal for him right now to do what he does best.
What made this issue so heartwarming was the idea that even Aric could have a happy ending. This may not be forever when you are someone like Aric, but these are moments to appreciate. Especially when Aric has been through so much and done so much for the sake of everyone else other than himself. His story came full circle to a place he long since walked away from to fend off his own negativity, and it also came full circle to someone who he could be happy with.
Speaking of the reflection, I enjoyed the dialogue from Aric which overlapped the story throughout. Even when this Visigoth warrior is broken and angry, none of this take away the fact that he is wise beyond his years. At best, Aric’s words can be quite poetic and Kindt took every opportunity to show this.
I know some people out there may have read the synopsis for this issue expecting that Aric may have one more go at the bounty hunters, but I believe it was for the best that we got more than just another fight. What makes a book like X-O Manowar so compelling is that it is never just about the action or the story. It is about striking a natural balance between the two. This creative team succeeded in giving us this consistently throughout this run.
Its hard to say if this issue could have had the same impact if it wasn’t for the stunning work put into the interiors by this art team. Beautiful renders, memorable settings, and engagement from these characters made this quite the spectacle. Everything blended together perfectly between the pencils and colors. Having a light touch to the pencils in general made a big difference as the colors meshed together so well to make the art pop out at you. Particularly when it came to the colors that were either vibrant or explosive. I felt as though the art could have told a story of its own at a point. Aric is not a man of many words, so actions really stood out in their own way. The way he reacts and responds to what goes on around him spoke volumes. And even when there was communicating, that personal touch put into every character interaction properly summed up the weight of this journey.
You couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful ending to a run than what we got out of X-O Manowar #26. Other books try to see this as that opportunity to crank the dial one last time, but sometimes all you need is to take a step back and use that time for appreciating everything which led to this point. I was moved because Aric is the very definition of what you get when exploring the importance of the person behind the mask, or helmet in his case.