Saturday, January 10, 2015

XO Man-O-War #4 (Classic Valiant)

Time-displaced Visigoth and wielder of the powerful alien XO armour, Aric of Dacia, is contacted by superhuman businessman Toyo Harada. He wishes to apologize for his attack on Aric last issue, and invites him for a comfortable night out in New Orleans. While there, a group of renegade Harbingers attack Harada, and it's up to Aric to come to his defense...

This is another mediocre issue of XO Man-O-War. The story isn't terrible, but it gets across very little, and if you haven't read other Valiant series Harbinger, you're likely to be a bit confused. Things aren't established too poorly, but they are unwelcome here, and don't fit at all.

The crossover aspect to this issue is pointless. The encounter between Aric and the Harbinger Renegades adds nothing to either set of characters The teens just bump into Aric, briefly spar, then retreat, and the issue just ends. The Jack Boniface (Shadowman) cameo (which is literally the only reason this issue is set in New Orleans) is also totally pointless. All it seems to be here for is to establish that all these Valiant comics are in the same universe, but that was already obvious. It doesn't need to be hammered into our heads!

No characters in this story grow or develop. Aric is pretty boring at this stage, while Ken is almost a non-presence. Harada's appearance in both this issue, and the prior one amount to little. He vanishes from the series, only to act as a deus ex machina sixteen issues from now. And finally, the Renegades aren't characterised all that well, and don't paint a very appealing picture of their own series.

They also act pretty stupidly, as their plan is to go after Harada directly. Seeing as how he can take over their minds in a second, and vaporise them with a thought, I don't see this confrontation lasting all that long!

The artwork in this issue is decent, though its painted quality and cross-hatchy nature class with the style of prior and future issues of XO. One particular problem is that Aric and Torque are drawn very similar. Backgrounds are negligible, and the lighting is way off in some scenes, with night being as bright as day. And finally, expressions in some panels are a bit off.

The cover is a complete misnomer! Not once is Aric anywhere near a waterfall cave mouth, nor is he ever knocked out and found by the Renegades! It's at least a decent looking cover though.

This is another utterly passable issue of XO Man-O-War, and it's not the last annoying crossover to come...

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