For those of you waiting for a good jumping-on point to X-O MANOWAR, now is your time! ARMOR HUNTERS is over and a new arc begins. Writer Robert Venditti does one heck of a job making this issue extremely open to new readers while keeping the older readers entertained. It's a tough balance that he pulls of incredibly well. We get to meet the new villain and Aric and the Visigoth life is reexamined in Nebraska.
As for the new story, it's pretty interesting. We have Phillip Zahn, the U.N. Chief Technology Expert, and guess what, he hates X-O Manowar. With him, comes the Armorines, a group of soldiers using technology that is a lot like Aric's armor. This character is revamp of the old school Phillip Zahn and I'm enjoying him a lot more already, since the previous incarnation was only in one arc, if memory serves me right. Now, Zahn is a bit of a scumbag, arrogant, vain, and everything you'd want in a villain.
Aric is still dealing with some leftovers from Armor Hunters. There's still some alien hounds loose on Earth, and he has to take them down. It's nice to see not everything is wrapped up in a nice little package after the event. It does help with the transition between stories showing the reader that Aric does try to get back into the swing of things and has to go back to his regular "9-5 job."
Speaking of his job, Aric gets a bit of a public promotion right off the bat. He's now the lead to the critical response team comprised of folks from the US and the UK. Well, he's pretty much been that for a little while, but now the public knows about him and his existence. While he may have saved the world, I'm still waiting for that moment for the world to turn on him and have a good feeling it's going to happen here or soon afterwards.
On the art side of things penciler Diego Bernard, inker Alisson Rodrigues, and colorist Wil Quintana do a solid job here. One think Bernard is especially great with is these wonderful establishing shots. He packs an immense amount of detail into a lot of these scenes and they just look great. One of the coolest looking shots is the overhead of the United Nations Security Council Chamber. The perspective is great and it feels very cinematic.
The issue is set-up heavy and at times, is can be a bit dry. It's hard to come down from something as epic and amazing as Armor Hunters into a new story. It's a double-edged sword, but luckily, Venditti is behind the wheel, so why this is probably the weakest part of the overall issue, I don't think many people could handle it better.
It's the start to something pretty awesome. It's tough to go from Armor Hunters to Armorines, since Armor Hunters was so epic, but this first issue of the new arc is great. On top of that, it's a great place for new readers to jump on. There is a lot going on in this first issue but it's all paced extremely well and it is never convoluted or overwhelming. This is still Valiant's flagship book and easily one of the best month-to-month reads in super-hero comics.