Cover by Phil Jimenez

X-O Manowar #44

“The Kill List, part two: Going To Ground”

Writer Robert Venditti

Artist Robert Gill

Valiant Entertainment

Cover by Stephen Mooney

Last issue kicked off new X-O Manowar arc, The Kill List, teaming the title’s Visigoth warrior king with lovable British assassin Ninjak to root alien sleeper agents out with lethal means while at home, tensions are rising as the Vine race and the Visigoths who were once their slaves are forced to share a refuge in the American Midwest. This week sees the temperatures increase for both of these compelling stories.

The book, no stranger to battlefield violence or space wars, opens with the aftermath of Ninjak’s showy killings of a cell of Vine agents. The brutality is a shock in a very different way to Manowar‘s usual stories, but the point of this arc is to test Aric of Dacia’s limits and what he will accept to protect his kingdom and the humans of Earth. The spectacle of the assassination draws the right attention and helps lead the heroes to a fortified base. The main characters meet to discuss an elaborate infiltration strategy, and in a cute fakeout, X-O barges right in  with all the humor of Indiana Jones sighing and shooting that swordsman. X-O Manowar. Done with your crap right now.

The action sequences are great, but the heart of the book remains with the people left home. Last month, a sweet alien boy learned to play with a Visigoth, and this month, a human girl holds his hand through the fence in a scene that echoes the Holocaust image like in The Boy In The Striped Pajamas. But unlike last time, the children are noticed by the humans, and a squad of Armorines has to keep the peace. It is painful to have a reader’s own species obviously pushing for violence and hatred, but that gives the image power. And after tensions have stabilized, the Armorine leader finds a way to humanize the group as a bunch of scared people. No one ever likes change, and he knows they’re wrong but teaches that yelling and punching won’t make them see that. This book is not about to back down from this debate about how we interact with neighbors who are different, but it’s not going to stoop to name-calling and straw men. As political news gets more cringe-inducing, it is refreshing to see the same conversation held with respect and thought.

The Kill List has been one of the most exciting X-O Manowar stories of the past year, and readers will love this latest chapter.

Cover by Stephen Segovia

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X-O Manowar #44 goes on sale Wednesday, February 3, from Valiant Entertainment.