Valiant Entertainment 2020
Written by Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum
Illustrated by Emilio Laiso
Coloured by Ruth Redmond
Lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Who would win in a fight: X-O Manowar or a cybernetic tech monster formed out of lava?
In order to prevent catastrophe, will Aric hand over the X-O armor to a new ally?
Alright this new direction that Dennis has in store for Aric is both frustrating and interesting at the same time. I mean lets face it he’s needed to reshape his image for a while now and it’s high time he learned that image matters and if he’s perceived as a warmongering kind of guy then it’s going to damage how the public sees him. Now if only he’d have been able to find someone more trustworthy and less of a scumbag than this guy is. We all know he’s not a good guy and he has way too many hidden agendas in store for Aric and while I am enjoying not knowing what those are the fact that they can be sensed is really what sets off the alarm bells in the reader.
I am enjoying the way that this is being told. The story & plot development that we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information is presented extremely well. There is one instance that I think sums up how I see the relationship between Aric and Troy quite clearly and while I don’t think that this was supposed to happen so quickly he did take advantage of the opportunity with some lightning quick reflexes. The character development that we see is stupendous as the dialogue as well as how they act and react to the situations and circumstances they encounter continue to flesh them out as people. The pacing is superb and as it takes us through the pages revealing the twists & turns along the way we are seeing Aric emerge as more of a superhero than he has been before.
How we see this being structured as well as how the layers within the story continue to grow and evolve as well seeing new ones emerge is utterly fantastic to see. The way that everything works so well together in creating the story’s ebb & flow is incredibly well done. Dennis is a master storyteller and he has this way of drawing the reader into the story as well as engaged in what we see. This is why we keep coming back time and again to read what he works on.
The interiors here are utterly gorgeous! I am a huge fan of the way we see the linework and its varying weights being utilised to create such marvellous attention to detail. Seeing so much detail makes me happy as it really causes the eye to rotate through the panels of the page and is just another way that we’re drawn into the book. Being the fan of backgrounds that I am and seeing what we do here makes me such a happy camper. From the lava, to the street or the kitchen table and throughout the entire book what we see is mindbogglingly brilliant. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show such a masterful eye for storytelling. The colour work is also brilliantly rendered. How we see the hues and tones within the colours being utilised to create the shading, highlights and shadow work shows such an eye and understanding of how colour works. While I am not a fan of the altered armour for now it’s understandable and hopefully we’ll get to a better version that’s Troy free.
Valiant is all too quietly putting out some of the strongest superhero genre books on the market. The characters have passed the test of time and are shining brighter than ever thanks to creator’s like we’re seeing here.