Aric of Dacia, former slave and time-displaced Visigoth, has left Earth in search of the alien Vine who, er, enslaved him and displaced him in time. In X-O Manowar #11, the first chapter of Valiant’s long-teased “Planet Death” event, Aric reaches the Vine homeworld.
Predictably, stuff explodes. Far less predictably, writer Robert Venditti folds the action into a recap of Vine history told from the aliens’ perspective that adds complexity to what could easily have been a straightforward tale of revenge.
There are worse beings in the universe than the Vine, beings called the Torment, for whom subtlety is clearly not an option and whose existence makes the Vine look sympathetic, if not heroic, in comparison. The Torment would have exterminated the Vine if not for the timely appearance of the sentient X-O Manowar armor. In the days since the defeat of the Torment, the X-O armor, now in Aric’s possession, has become an object of worship. More accurately, because the armor is sentient, it has become a god in the eyes of the Vine.
And now, bonded to a human, their X-O Manowar is an angry god, returning to the Vine to wreak Old Testament-style vengeance.
Venditti does a masterful job of escalating the stakes for both Aric and the Vine, but the real star of the book is Cary Nord. Nord does a fine job with the explosions and the fight sequences, but excels at drawing lush landscapes. The story may be called “Planet Death,” but Nord’s interpretation of the Vine homeworld is a place I’d like to visit.