The fifth volume of X-O picks right up after Aric has defeated the Russian forces and sees him feeling pretty confidant. Aric also happens to have Ninjak locked up whom he has also recently beaten in combat, though he soon escapes and informs Toyo Harada and Unity about Aric’s actions.
At this point, the book would have been best read with Unity Volume 1 as it literally intersects with this book much like Harbinger Wars did with its ancillary titles, but sadly it came out some time before and hampered this reading experience a little. If you did read that book, you know all about the battles that took place and that Live Wire gained control of the Shanhara armour and Aric and his men ended up imprisoned. At the end of Unity’s first book, Live Wire heads back to the prison and releases the armour back to Aric and in this volume he then makes a deal with Colonel Capshaw of the United States to essentially work for them if they provide his people with a home.
Of course, the United States will not pass up the opportunity.
Robert Venditti continues the ongoing intrigue in X-O’s life, always keeping the pressure on and the action heavy. Aric really seems to get little rest, whether it is fighting the vine, other heroes, other countries or even challenges from his own people. With the new direction presented at the end of the story and the deal between Aric and Colonel Capshaw, it does not seem like Aric will be getting any rest for the forseeable future.
This volume also saw the return of Cary Nord to pencilling duties, aided and abetted by Vincente Cifuentes. Sadly, while the pencils were decent, they were not as good as some of his previous work. The Valiant books have had some great artists working on them with some really great pencils to show for it, including Cary Nord. So whatever the reason might be for this volume not being as good as the previous ones, hopefully it gets back on track.
As the book goes on, including this volume, it is great to see that there is continuing character development. Aric is growing into his role as a king, and is starting to feel more comfortable being so. His dealings with his people are less combative as he is learning an iron fist may not be the correct way to do things. Venditti continues to knock it out of the park on Valiant’s flagship book and X-O just keeps getting better issue after issue.
4 out of 5