“Planet Death” begins here, and it is an aptly named chapter as Aric descends on the home world of The Vine to exact his revenge on his former captors. His killing spree is halted, however, when a Vine priest tells him that the fate of Aric’s people is now tied to the planet. So now how does he destroy the planet and kill his enemies, but save the last of the Visigoths?
As far as introductory issues go, this is one of the better ones. Venditti gives us some history on not only The Vine, but how the Manowar armor came to be. Making it easier for anyone who might be just now getting into the series to not feel totally lost, while also delivering the needed back story for longtime readers. Once you see the Vine’s history you might even wonder why they’re able to do the things they’ve done to other alien races. Venditti’s twist also makes this much more than just a revenge tale, and raises the stakes for Aric as it seems like our hero has gone from one no-win situation to the next. The only drawback with this issue is that it seems to be over with too soon.
Nord’s artwork is just as strong as it was in the earlier X-O Manowar issues. From the historical narrative to the visceral attacks from Aric, this is a very good looking issue. Sure, there were some panels and sequences that stood out better than others, but the story moves very well and things are balanced out nicely. The design of the faceless oppressors of The Vine is simple yet very effective.
With all of the other Valiant titles seemingly tied together in their own crossover, it’s good to see that X-O Manowar gets its own major story line. “Planet Death” is a good jumping on point for a new reader who was maybe on the fence about starting X-O Manowar, and it will not disappoint. This is one of the titles that should be on your monthly pull list for all the right reasons.