Loam's sun is exploding and Aric tries to help their people and take down Dead Hand, which seems to be an impossible task.
If you are someone who has been on the X-O MANOWAR train for quite some time, this is easily the most emotional issue of the series, especially because of how far The Vine and Aric have come in their relationship since the beginning of this series, where The Vine, under different management, enslaved Aric and his people.
Aric is striving to do everything he can to save these people because he doesn't want their deaths on his head, even though this is all really because of Dead Hand. It's a really tough read in all the best ways possible because it grabs the reader and never lets go.
The really interesting thing about this issue is that there isn't a ton of stuff happening. The book sets up where this story is headed and what the fans can expect, but the connection these characters have between each other is explored so well that it works exceptionally well. Writer Robert Venditti has nailed this issue out of the park and given Aric a new reason to fight. Actually, he has multiple reasons by the end of this one.
We get a little more in depth about who and what Dead Hand is. There were some reveals here in there in the last issue which really established the threat, but things get a tad more in depth here and Dead Hand is one terrifying character that cannot be reasoned with and it all goes back to ARMOR HUNTERS.
The art here is dynamite. Penciller Diego Bernard, inker Ryan Winn, and colorist Brian Reber do an incredibly stellar job at visually telling this story. Bernard really nails the emotion within Aric's face as he goes though some tough trials and battles, and that's what really elevates this issue. Reber's colors really fit the book. They're dark and fitting the world of Loam and space.
Little to complain about here. This issue, along with the last, aren't very new reader friendly though, since this ties into ARMOR HUNTERS and the first volume of the book. To get the full effect, you have to read those stories.
Dead Hand is shaping up to be one of Aric's toughest battles yet. It's amazing how this book's stories keep raising the bar. They're epic and a great ride. What made this issue so good was the emotional aspects between Aric and the Vine. Venditti, Bernard, Winn, and Reber are really pushing the limit with this series and while it is not new reader friendly, it's worth catching up. I highly recommend this issue.