4001 A.D.: X-O Manowar #1 is out this week, and it marks the first tie-in to Valiant’s big summer event, 4001 A.D. After what Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain did last week with the debut issue, writer Robert Venditti and line artist Clayton Henry had a difficult act to follow. But with the direction that they took the story, and their collaboration with colorist’s Brian Reber and Andrew Dalhouse, this issue really came into its own.
Instead of trying to somehow tie-in Aric of Dacia, or some version of him, into the 4001 timeline, Robert took us only 100 years into the future, to the moment that Father uprooted to nation of New Japan. This was a fantastic idea for a tie-in to this event, and it really made the book something special. Not only did Robert shine some much-needed light on the mystery behind New Japan and Father, but also the turmoil that their escape to orbit caused. His introduction to the X-O War Knights, and their role in the fate of humanity, was hauntingly poetic with the threat of extinction hitting close to home. And for fans of Valiant that have been following the publisher for a few years, he throws in a really fun cameo to shake things up.
Now even though his story was amazing, I did think that Robert’s scripts were a little off beat at the beginning; which is not like him at all. The first six pages of this issue felt very stiff and bland as he build a foundation for The X-O War. There was plenty happening in the panels, and what was happening was awful, but the narrative seemed too distant. However, after that things picked up and fast. Seriously, before I knew it I was at the back of the book, and the last three pages that Robert leaves you with is just… wow. Just really shows you what kind of range this man can do.
Speaking of range, let’s talk about Valiant art veteran Clayton Henry. Clayton has been with Valiant since the reboot, and he even helped pencil their very first summer event, Harbinger Wars. Clayton is a beast when it comes to page layouts. He is clear, concise, and his work is just a pleasure to stare at. How he manages to work unique expressions on each face in a panel, while stuffing the background to the gutter, is beyond me. But it must be killer on the flatter. Anyways… For this issue, Clayton seemed to have a lot of fun. And who wouldn’t, with Giant X-O Gungans assaulting an orbiting country?
Lastly, big kudos also goes to the other two artists, Brian and Andrew. This two guys are, like I have said over and over and over again, unreal. Just look at some of the scenes in this book. Like the savanna in panel one, page four. Or the last three pages. This is coloring at it’s finest, and it really pushes the mood and focus for each page.
All together, Robert, Clayton, Brian, and Andrew told a great story with this issue, and an even better tie-in. Do not miss this event. It, like every other Valiant summer event, is going to pale Rebirth and Civil War II. Why? Because it is not a cheap rehash. So get out there and buy! 4.5 out of 5.
Written by ROBERT VENDITTI
Art by CLAYTON HENRY
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment