Indie Comics Spotlight: X-O Manowar 2017 #1, All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #1, Sage Escape: Transhuman #1

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

X-O Manowar 2017 #1

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“I have need of you…one last time.”

A man is only as good as his resourcefulness and tools at his disposal. Aric of Dacia is one such man, made an intergalactic warrior thanks to the X-O Manowar armor. Without the armor, he’s still a capable warrior and his prowess is on display in X-O Manowar 2017 #1 from Valiant Comics. The issue is written by Matt Kindt, illustrated by Tomas Giorello, colored by Diego Rodriguez, and lettered by Dave Sharpe.

Born under the oppressive thumb of the Roman Empire, Aric of Dacia learned warfare at an early age. It was amid such violence that he was abducted by an alien race. Forced into slavery, he survived where others perished. His escape would come from bonding with a weapon of immeasurable power: the X-O Manowar armor. With it, he returned to Earth…only to find himself stranded in the modern day. Now, far from home on a strange and primitive new world, Aric has begun a new life. Liberated from his past, he tends to his crops. Free from war. Free from violence. Free from the armor. But the machinery of death marches his way once again. Conscripted into an alien army and thrown into an unforgiving conflict, the fury inside him finds voice as he is forced to embrace the armor once more. With it, he will decimate armies, topple empires and incite interplanetary warfare as he rises from soldier to general to emperor to Visigoth. They wanted a weapon. He will give them war!

If there was ever an example of a writer showing not telling, its Kindt here. His approach is phenomenal in that it shows the reader how brutally efficient Aric is as a warrior and leader. Kindt leans on this heavily throughout the story, giving Aric a great deal of bravado to fight a war he’s pressed into even without the X-O Manowar armor. Kindt’s pacing in the issue is methodical and follows the brutality of war from the perspective of a solder. And the dialogue is mostly stream of conscious on the part of Aric, yet Kindt works in some other lines of powerful dialogue on the part of the commanders of soldiers.

Matching the elegant script is Giorello’s artwork that boasts an ethereal style. His rendering of Aric focuses on softer edges that allow him to blend the characters into the battle seamlessly. Despite the perceived softness, Giorello still gets into the gritty details of war, emphasizing that battle is brutal and rife with bloodshed. And Giorello doesn’t let up as one page leads into the other, focusing on frenzied scenes of war as narrated by those higher in command. Rodriguez’s colors are bright and soft as well, accentuating the details of the characters very well.

X-O Manowar 2017 #1 is bold and brilliant. Aric is a man seeking peace, but he’s willing to wade into the thick of things if pressed into it. Kindt’s script is thoroughly enjoyable and characterizes Aric with all the willpower and persistence that accompany a great warrior. Giorello’s artwork is fantastic and adds a certain beauty to the atrocities of war. X-O Manowar 2017 #1 hits all the right notes in bringing back a great character.

X-O Manowar 2017 #1 is available March 22.

All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #1

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“I’ll sway them to do the right thing.”

Choosing a life of crime is one thing. Choosing a life of fighting crime is another thing entirely. The latter typically brings with it a massive burden of responsibility, but there are some like Crime Destroyer in All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #1 from Fantagraphics who’s up to the challenge. The issue is written by Josh Bayer, illustrated by Herb Trimpe, and inked by Benjamin Marra.

After years of facing enemies in battle during shadowy overseas conflicts…seeing friends’ bodies mutilated and maimed…a man returns to find the streets of the city he fought for ravaged by crime. Using his military special forces training to create a secret arsenal of high-tech prototypical weaponry, he begins his own war against crime.

There’s a great sense of nostalgia in Bayer’s approach to both the character and the story in All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #1. Crime Destroyer is a fully confident and capable superhero who relies on his combat prowess to see precarious situations through to the end; Bayer uses these personality traits well. What makes him more interesting, though, is his almost singular focus on justice, so much so that Bayer lets nothing stand in Crime Destroyer’s way. There is one drawback to the script in that it’s tremendously dense. Bayer packs in a lot to the issue and there’s a ton of expository to wade through in order to get through the plot.

Trimpe’s artwork infuses the book with an old-school comic sensibility as it emphasizes characters in an older way. Crime Destroyer looks like a legitimate superhero in that he’s well-built and convinces the reader that he can hold his own when going up against bad guys. And even though the characters have been around for a while, Trimpe does a great job in modernizing their look without sacrificing the throwback mentality of the work. There’s also a special attention to cross-hatching that gives the illustrations more depth. Marra’s inks are bold as well, further accentuating the unique look of the characters that are definitely characters in the comic book sense.

All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #1 is a pretty involved first issue that asks a lot of its reader, but the payoff is satisfying. Crime Destroyer is committed to helping out those in need and he won’t let anyone stand in his way. Bayer’s script is packed with a lot of dialogue, but the overarching plot makes sense. Trimpe’s artwork is phenomenal as always and brings an old-world feeling to a modern-day comic. All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #1 promises a good mix of superhero vengeance paired with a unique cast of villains to square off against.

All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #1 is available now.

Sage Escape: Transhuman #1

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“I’m relying on your services for my survival.”

Exploration of space is tough. Not just because it’s so big, but also because you need someone there you can trust to get your back. In Sage Escape: Transhuman #1, Sage is looking for such a team. The issue is written and illustrated by Damian S. Simankowicz and lettered by Primal Archetype.

Armed with political and military knowledge of the future, Sage travels to the Perian home world to assemble her team. Meanwhile, on Earth, the soul collecting entity known as The Final Word offers a deadly deal to Imogen Cray that she cannot refuse.

Simankowicz is very ambitious in Sage Escape: Transhuman #1. Sage is a universe-renowned assassin seeking out a team, but there’s a lot of missing logic in regards to why she’s doing just that. Simankowicz should be credited for creating a deep continuity for the Sage character and a lot of the events in Sage Escape: Transhuman #1 are predicated on prior events. This makes a little tough for new readers to jump right in and get a feel for the comic or the property even as Simankowicz does his best to make it accessible. The dialogue throughout the issue comes across as somewhat forced, as if the characters are aware that they’re telling a story to the reader.

Simankowicz also handles the artwork duties and his approach is relatively simple. Characters are rendered with a basic approach that illustrates them as a wide variety of alien-type characters set against pretty sparse backgrounds. Simankowicz doesn’t really provide a lot of details in terms of facial expressions, but he does handle the action pretty well in showing off Sage in combat. There are pretty simple colors throughout the issue as well, largely focusing on the primary colors more than anything.

Sage Escape: Transhuman #1 knows what it wants to do and gets pretty in-depth in doing so. Sage is a more than capable, intergalactic assassin seeking to build out her team for reasons yet to be revealed. Simankowicz’s script is pretty straightforward in following Sage in her team-building quest. His artwork has a sheen to it as it follows the action on page. Sage Escape: Transhuman #1 is a bold first issue that knows where it wants to go even if it seems like it will take some time to get there.

Sage Escape: Transhuman #1 is available now.


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