Since close to the beginning of this series, readers have seen how powerful Aric truly is with the Shanhara armor on him. This is really the first full issue where we see his tact and power without the armor, aside from a few issues where Aric battled, in short scenes, without it. Aric really is a fighter and will do whatever it takes to preserve his life and life of his people.
Seeing the armor on someone else is a bit weird, but it's a great addition to the overall UNITY story line. There's a back and forth battle of will between Livewire and Aric as he uses the armor, while on Livewire, to destroy everything around him. We learn that there's a psychic link between Aric and the armor, and he, at least for a bit, had some control over its powers. What I find really cool about this book and issue is that writer Robert Venditti is always building and moving forward. He didn't toss all of the armor's capabilities at the reader right away. We learn new things about it issue to issue, like the link.
Cary Nord did the layouts for this issue and Vicente Cifuentes did the finishes. The line art and the layouts are great. The art has a great sense of movement and the action scenes, like many of the action scenes in the series, are incredibly brutal. This book is the perfect match of brilliant storytelling and thrilling action.
The final page of this issue is fantastic and will get you extremely excited for the next issue of UNITY. Aric may not be in control of the armor anymore, but he still is strategic and knows how to get the drop on his enemies. What a great ending.
The only real complaint here comes from the art. It looks really dated, but it's not the line work. It's all in the colors. It doesn't look bad, but the style does look about 20 years out of date, which doesn't fit with the rest of the series or with UNITY.
It really helps if you're reading UNITY to understand what's going on here. From page one, you may be a little confused why Livewire has on Aric's armor. However, you probably should be reading UNITY anyway if you're a fan of this book. It just makes sense.
X-O MANOWAR #20 (as well as UNITY #2, which you need to check out) is a great tie in and addition to the Unity story. Venditti not only delivers a fantastic issue, but he keeps it closely tied to UNITY and makes it feel like the perfect extension to that series. If you're reading UNITY, you should really be reading X-O MANOWAR. Overall, I highly recommend this issue.