Writer: Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum, Artist: Emilio Laiso, Colourist: Ruth Redmond, Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, Cover artist: Christian Ward.
Vlad Yakiov has kidnapped Aric’s foster family and taken Harlem hostage. His plan is such that no matter what happens, Aric will lose. If Vlad's weapons can take him down, Vlad wins. If X-O destroys Harlem with rage at the kidnapping of his family, well the world will see what a destructive “hero” he is and so turn on him, meaning Vlad wins again. However with his newly updated suit and his newly improved attitude, can he outwit Vlad to ensure this doesn’t turn out exactly as Vlad plans? No matter the outcome, X-O and his newly acquired PR man will not be the same.
So with issue 4, this actually seems more like an ending of an arc with Vlad’s primary story coming to a close. The idea that I found interesting, which seemed to be set up a few issues ago, is about who gives the superhero the freedom to do these things. Or who lets them be the judge, jury, and executioner. This interesting concept that I had high hopes for actually having a deep dive into, is glossed over very quickly, which was a little disappointing to me. Something like this has had time to be developed within certain series, but not to the degree that I was hoping we would get here. With such a unique character and a great villain in Vlad, this one thing could be developed into a political nightmare that starts a World War due to “foreign invaders” on both sides. Add to this the power that a superhero has, and that’s a fantastic concept to address with the superhero genre. However just when we get to that point, where we could see this concept evolve, it’s cut off so quickly in this issue in even a symbolic way. A reporter talks about hero’s being judge, jury, and...at which point a citizen speaks out against the accusation.
This was a little disappointing to me, however other than that, I found the writing of the issue enjoyable.
In regards to the artwork, I’ve not had any issues with the art up until now. This issue has been the darkest one yet. With not as many colours as the other previous issues. This is a shame, when the cover is so vibrant. Unfortunately the cover is the most colourful part. For such a bright hero, this is a shame when this was something that kept this book different from so many others, the colour palette. There’s also the slight problem of having a new suit debuted in the last moments of the previous issue. Instead of having a drawn out, then big reveal ,and fully leaning into this new suit. We have a drawn out beginning and then a tiny panel to show off the suit. I realise we got the reveal in the previous issue, but this is the first full issue of the new suit. To me it’s a wasted opportunity to have it out on full display through the issue.
Despite my issues with this book, I still enjoyed it. It’s probably the weakest of the series so far, but even still, I had fun reading it.
X-O Manowar #4 will be released on 27th January from Valiant Comics, your local comic shop, as well as comixology