Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Diego Bernard
Dead Hand began last month, and with it came a massive crisis for the people of Loam. X-O Manowar #35 is about saving a race that is already doomed. This issue goes by fast, and is full of emotion as we see just how dangerous Dead Hand really is.
Robert Venditti somehow manages to make every arc more intense than the last. This series delivers exciting arcs on an epic scale consistently, and always makes them impactful. Aric is still a flawed character, with a past that consistently haunts him as he fights to ensure that he never fails anyone again. Unfortunately, he is once again failing, and the the Vine’s home is facing its end as their sun is destroyed. This issue is mostly a race against time as Aric tries to evacuate as many people as he can before the planet feels impact. Of course, only so many people can leave a planet with minute’s notice, which makes everything even more emotional.
Despite how fast the issue reads, it doesn’t feel rushed. The frantic scenes all call for deep thought, and it’s impossible not to feel sympathy for those who have lost their families on the planet. Venditti plays off of the readers emotions and it makes this issue’s impact on the Valiant Universe even more powerful than it already is. There is also a brief battle, further establishing how high the stakes are. It’s clear now that Aric is going to need some friends in order to prevent the destruction of all life in the universe, which makes me wonder what great heroes will be called on for help.
Diego Bernard draws the madness well, using plenty of spreads that bring the chaos to life. The final scene depicting the end of Loam is especially powerful due to his pencils. Aric’s apologies to a mother who just lost her family as she turned to ash is heartbreaking due to how well done the scene is laid out. The designs for the machines of Dead Hand are also intricate, and it’s clear that Bernard put in a great amount of work to make the short battle at the end of the issue look as cool as it should.
Somehow Venditti and Bernard continue to put out stunning issues every month. Dead Hand looks like it’s going to be fast-paced and harrowing up to the end. X-O Manowar #35 is the best issue of the series in months, and those who have recently dropped the title due to how slow it’s been lately should definitely hop back on.